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Missouri needed 4 strong performances to beat Kentucky. The Tigers got 3.

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Study Hall time.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Phillips-Barnett-Walton. Unfortunately, almost all of Mizzou’s production came from those three.

Kentucky 72, Missouri 62

Mizzou Kentucky
Pace (No. of Possessions) 71.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.87 1.01
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.03 1.38
2-PT FG% 47.4% 55.9%
3-PT FG% 18.2% 27.8%
FT% 60.9% 67.9%
True Shooting % 44.2% 56.0%
FTA/FGA 38.3% 53.8%
Mizzou Kentucky
Assists 4 10
Steals 5 2
Turnovers 9 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.00 0.71
Mizzou Kentucky
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14.8 11.3
Offensive Rebounds 7 10
Difference -7.8 -1.3

Eventually, Kentucky laid the hammer down. With the game still somewhat in the balance, the Wildcats put the game away with a layup-great defense-dunk combination with about two minutes left. The better team won. Obviously.

But ... man oh man, those missed free throws. Mizzou was virtually guaranteed to shoot poorly from the field against a defense that ranks 12th in the country per Pomeroy. But if Tigers not named Terrence Phillips or Jordan Geist had made even 60% of their free throws — if they had gone about 8-for-13 instead of 4-for-13 — then the game might have been as close as 2 points heading into those final two minutes. Instead of tying the game with 7:45 left, maybe Jordan Barnett’s layup would have given Mizzou a 2- or 4- or 6-point lead.

And if Kevin Puryear goes 4-for-11 from the field instead of 1-for-11 ... well ... you get the idea. If, if, if. The better team won, but Mizzou had complete control of the points it scored from the free throw line, and the Tigers blew quite a few of those points. And while they won the ball control battle, they simply missed too many freebies, missed too many 3-pointers, and got erased from the offensive glass. Change one of those three things, and the result is much tighter. Change two, and you maybe pull an upset.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Terrence Phillips 41.5 1.34 31 Min, 22 Pts (5-10 FG, 4-8 3PT, 8-8 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 4 PF
Jordan Barnett 18.6 0.58 32 Min, 13 Pts (6-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 1-3 FT), 7 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF
K.J. Walton 4.1 0.12 33 Min, 9 Pts (4-11 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-3 FT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF
Jordan Geist 3.0 0.11 28 Min, 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 1 Reb, 2 PF
Russell Woods 2.8 0.20 14 Min, 4 Pts (2-3 FG), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 5 PF
Reed Nikko 0.0 0.00 10 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 2 Reb, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF
Cullen VanLeer -2.4 -0.29 8 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT), 1 PF
Frankie Hughes -3.0 -0.33 9 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-3 3PT), 1 TO
Kevin Puryear -3.2 -0.09 35 Min, 4 Pts (1-11 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-7 FT), 8 Reb (3 Off), 1 Stl, 2 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Terrence Phillips 25% 50% 3.4 47% 27% 21% 5%
Jordan Barnett 23% 45% 1.9 27% 55% 13% 5%
K.J. Walton 22% 29% 1.3 0% 69% 18% 13%
Jordan Geist 14% 33% 0.9 0% 79% 21% 0%
Russell Woods 14% 48% 0.8 0% 75% 0% 25%
Reed Nikko 10% 48% 0.6 0% 50% 0% 50%
Cullen VanLeer 6% 0% 0.4 0% 100% 0% 0%
Frankie Hughes 28% 19% 1.6 0% 80% 0% 20%
Kevin Puryear 20% 13% 1.4 0% 62% 38% 0%

Your regular reminder: When a bunch of players play poorly, that skews the adjustments a little bit. In this case, four of Missouri’s nine players registered either zero or worse in the game score calculations. And with Phillips once again playing beautifully, that meant for quite the skew in his favor.

Regardless of the distribution, the problems here were obvious. Phillips was awesome, Barnett and K.J. Walton were good ... and that was about it. Jordan Geist had a couple of moments, and Russell Woods and Reed Nikko contributed a bit (six points, six rebounds) in between fouls (they had 10 of them in 24 combined minutes!). But in 17 minutes, Cullen VanLeer and Frankie Hughes went a combined 0-for-4 from 3-point range and brought nothing else to the box score besides a turnover and a foul. Meanwhile, Puryear had a miserable time.

That’s been the story of Puryear’s career so far, I guess. Here are his stats against top-30 teams (per Pomeroy):

  • vs. No. 14 Xavier (11/17/15): 29 minutes, 12 points (4-9 FG)
  • vs. No. 19 Arizona (12/13/15): 22 minutes, 4 points (2-10 FG)
  • vs. No. 18 Texas A&M (1/23/16): 30 minutes, 11 points (3-8 FG)
  • vs. No. 6 Kentucky (1/27/16): 19 minutes, 10 points (4-7 FG)
  • vs. No. 25 Vanderbilt (2/10/16): 23 minutes, 10 points (4-10 FG)
  • vs. No. 18 Texas A&M (2/27/16): 19 minutes, 7 points (1-6 FG)
  • vs. No. 21 Arizona (12/10/16): 27 minutes, 11 points (4-10 FG)
  • vs. No. 4 Florida (1/2/17): 29 minutes, 8 points (2-8 FG)
  • vs. No. 7 Kentucky (2/21/17): 35 minutes, 4 points (1-11 FG)
  • CAREER AVERAGE VS. TOP 30: 8.6 PPG (32% FG)
  • 2016-17 AVERAGE VS. TOP 30: 7.7 PPG (24% FG)
  • CAREER AVERAGE VS. EVERYONE ELSE: 11.8 PPG (46% FG)

Now, everybody plays more poorly against good teams — that’s why they’re good teams. But a 14% FG percentage difference is huge. And I guess it makes sense; Puryear is talented and could be an excellent complementary piece on a good team. But he’s always going to be 6’7, and he’s always going to be going against guys who are longer and more athletic, particularly against top competition. Creating shots is always going to be a lot more difficult.

But still. 2-for-7 from the line. For a 78% career free throw shooter. Damn. I doubt he slept well last night.

Three regular season games left for Mizzou. The Tigers have been somewhere between decent and excellent in each of the last four home games, and you have to think their chances of beating Texas A&M in the final home game of the year next Tuesday are decent. (Pomeroy says Mizzou has a 37% chance.) Meanwhile, they have a 17% chance at Ole Miss and an 18% chance at Auburn.

In all, Pomeroy projections say there’s still a 57% chance Mizzou wins another game before the SEC Tournament. That would give the Tigers eight this season and 27 for Kim Anderson’s tenure.