Your Trifecta: Barnett-Walton-Puryear. But really, it was probably Rhyan-Rhyan-Rhyan.
On Thursday in Gainesville, Missouri gave a textbook definition of what quitting looks like. When a team quits, it isn’t (usually) a conscious, premeditated decision; it’s just that, when punched in the mouth, the team finds out its collective give-a-f*** tank is empty, and there’s no way to refill until the game at hand is over at the earliest.
Less than 48 hours in Columbia, Missouri’s tank was refilled. I’m sure pride was part of the reason for that — the team had gotten humiliated on ESPN2, after all. But for the second straight year, Missouri gave its most inspired performance of the season on Rally For Rhyan day. That probably isn’t a coincidence.
Mike Anderson credits Missouri for getting to all the important loose balls— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) February 5, 2017
While living every parent's nightmare so much class and strength shown by Brad & Jen Loos, not just tonight but the last year and a half— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) February 5, 2017
Missouri 83, Arkansas 78
|Pace (No. of Possessions)||69.0|
|Points Per Possession (PPP)||1.20||1.13|
|Points Per Shot (PPS)||1.57||1.53|
|True Shooting %||63.1%||62.0%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||9.9||10.2|
I assumed that if Mizzou was ever going to win another game this year, it would be in part because of randomly great 3-point shooting. Instead, the Tigers lost the games with the randomly great shooting and then won while going 6-for-21. They came out briefly on fire, which helped build an early cushion, but regulated quickly.
And yet, despite going 6-for-21 from distance, Mizzou still won with offense — Arkansas averaged 1.13 points per possession, which is pretty high. Only, Mizzou averaged 1.20 because of two things: 66% shooting on 2-pointers (!!) and 29 free throws. Well, and a third thing: making free throws. Before going 3-for-6 in the last 20 seconds or so (which was nerve-wracking), the Tigers were 20-for-23. They took advantage of the “Mike Anderson team on the road” factor.
Also: Mizzou dominated the ball-handling battle. Against a Mike Anderson team. Mizzou had more steals, And Arkansas had nearly twice as many turnovers.
Mizzou Player Stats
|Jordan Barnett||18.0||0.86||21 Min, 17 Pts (5-9 FG, 2-5 3PT, 5-6 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 3 PF|
|K.J. Walton||15.8||0.63||25 Min, 16 Pts (6-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 3-5 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF|
|Kevin Puryear||14.9||0.41||36 Min, 15 Pts (7-13 FG, 1-2 3PT), 8 Reb (3 Off), 1 TO|
|Russell Woods||9.3||0.31||30 Min, 8 Pts (1-1 FG, 6-6 FT), 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF|
|Terrence Phillips||8.8||0.37||24 Min, 7 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 5-6 FT), 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF|
|Cullen VanLeer||7.6||0.24||32 Min, 12 Pts (5-9 FG, 2-6 3PT), 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 4 PF|
|Jordan Geist||7.2||0.40||18 Min, 6 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-5 FT), 1 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF|
|Reed Nikko||1.1||0.12||9 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG, 0-1 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 PF|
|Frankie Hughes||-2.0||-0.39||5 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 1 Reb, 1 TO, 2 PF|
Jordan Barnett and KJ Walton were awesome. Kevin Puryear and Russell Woods were good. Terrence Phillips and Jordan Geist couldn’t find their shot but contributed 11 assists and three steals to just three turnovers. Cullen VanLeer found his shooting range early and went 3-for-3 inside the arc. Reed Nikko had a powerful scoring move at one point and didn’t turn the ball over.
Granted, Frankie Hughes is still lost at the moment — last 5 games: 37 minutes, 4 points, 0-for-7 on 3-pointers, four assists, five turnovers, eight fouls — and I ache for him. The most confidence player on the team over the first two or three games of the year has lost his confidence, his shooting stroke, his identity, and everything else.
Still, Mizzou got definitively positive contributions from eight members of the nine-man rotation and got star performances from two of them. Funny how much of a difference that makes.
Last year, Mizzou beat Tennessee on Rally For Rhyan day, then beat South Carolina and played competitively down the stretch — they lost their last five, but only one by more than 10 points.
The Tigers have been mostly competitive in SEC play this year, done in by bad spurts but fighting hard. That changed in Gainesville, but it changed back in Columbia last night. If they keep this fight up for a while, it bears mentioning that three of their four remaining home games are at least semi-winnable: Vanderbilt (29% win probability, per Ken Pomeroy), Alabama (33%), and Texas A&M (32%). Nothing’s going to turn this into a good season, and it would take a whole hell of a lot to change Kim Anderson’s fate, I figure. But Mizzou played fun, inspired basketball on Saturday night. And they might do more of it. For this moment, at least, that’s enough.