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Study Hall: Mizzou 85, North Florida 51

That was fun.

I didn’t get my wish. On local radio this week, I said that I hoped Missouri would shoot very poorly from 3-point range against UNF, easily the worst team left on the schedule, just so the Tigers would get one more chance to practice Plan B before the real games begin again.

When you’re taking upwards of 25 threes per game, and you’re in the top 50 in the ratio of 3-point attempts to FG attempts, you’re vulnerable to the whims of the rim. Sometimes you’ll shoot 50 percent, and you’ll be unstoppable. Sometimes you’ll shoot far worse, and that alone might make you dead in the water.

It’s only been a month since Mizzou shot a combined 7-for-47 (15 percent) on threes against Utah and Emporia State, losing big in Salt Lake City and damn near figuring out a way to lose to a D2 school. When you’re hitching your ride to the 3-point wagon, you’re going to fall off a cliff a few times.

I did not get my wish. Mizzou shot 10-for-25 from long range against North Florida — nearly matching the season average for both attempts and makes (40 percent last night, 41 percent for the year). Granted, the Tigers could have gone 0-for-25 and still won, but this was the last time that a really awful shooting night wouldn’t have cost the Tigers. From here on out, a 15-percent night from long range will probably mean a loss.

But that’s enough hand-wringing. Last night was fun, and Mizzou now has more wins than all of last season. That’s cause for celebration.

Same, man. Same.

Team Stats

Yeah, that’s domination right there. Despite playing a team barely ranked in the top 300, Mizzou rose from 51st to 45th in the KenPom ratings — the Tigers’ highest ranking at this point in the season since 2012-13. When that happens, that means you stomped someone.

Mizzou basically broke even in the free throw percentage, FTA/FGA, and turnovers categories and dominated in all the others. That’ll do.

  • eFG: The Tigers are now 11th in the country on offense and 21st on defense.
  • 2PT%: They’re 24th on offense and 27th on defense.
  • 3PT%: They’re 20th on offense and 40th on defense.
  • Offensive Rebounding Rate: They’re 37th on offense and 77th on defense.

Basically, the Tigers are still below 200th in turnover rate on both offense and defense, and they tend to foul guys who can make their free throws (i.e. guards). Those are the only weaknesses besides “They shoot a lot of 3s, which makes Bill C. nervous.” This is a damn good team.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Barnett-Geist-Nikko

  • HEY, REED NIKKO. When you’re behind both Jeremiah Tilmon and Jontay Porter on the depth chart, your opportunities are going to be limited, especially now that Tilmon has learned to play without fouling every 18 seconds. But he got a chance to remind Cuonzo Martin of his abilities and did just that, pulling off a trifecta bid despite playing just 13 minutes.
  • Sam and Matt have been banging the “Attack the rim, Jordan Barnett! Don’t just take 3s!” drum for a while, and he listened yesterday — only four of his 12 FG attempts were 3s, and he was 6-for-8 inside the arc. Good, good.
  • Jordan Geist went into a brief funk following the WVU game (in which he was a bit of a catalyst for WVU’s comeback efforts), scoring zero points and taking just one shot in 25 minutes against UCF and Miami (Ohio). Against Green Bay and North Florida, however: 38 minutes, 39 points, 8-for-9 on 2-pointers, 7-for-12 on 3-pointers, four steals, two assists, one turnover. Damn.
  • Kevin Puryear picked a good time to lay a couple of eggs. Against GB and UNF, he played 40 minutes, scored eight points on 4-for-13 shooting, turned the ball over four times, and committed seven fouls. He posted a negative Adj. GS rating in both games. I’m not going to pretend to be worried about him just yet, but the next opponent on the list, Stephen F. Austin, is pretty good, and he might be needed in that one.

Blake Harris: 88% pass, 2% TO. He had more than twice as many assists (seven) as FG attempts (three), and he had just one turnover. We saw against WVU that he wasn’t quite ready for prime time overall, but in these three cupcake games, he’s averaging 25 minutes, five points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two turnovers. Granted, he’s 0-for-6 from 3-point range, and good opponents will sit back and dare him to shoot, but he’s coming along.

Cupcake time is now basically over. Stephen F. Austin visits Mizzou Arena on Tuesday with a 10-1 record and fresh off of a win at LSU. (The Lumberjacks’ only loss was by five points at Mississippi State).

Stylistically, this is an interesting one. The Jacks play fast (69th in Adj. Tempo), hit the offensive glass reasonably well, and most importantly, they’re No. 1 in the country in forcing turnovers. They foul a ton, and they give up open looks when they’re not making steals, but they’re custom-made to test Missouri’s biggest weakness. And following their trip to Baton Rouge, they’re confident. Mizzou played well last night and made its 3s. The Tigers will need to do the same on Tuesday.