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Jordan Barnett has been everything Mizzou could have hoped for (and it’s barely mattered)

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NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Texas A&M Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Barnett-Walton-Phillips.

Jordan Barnett has played 14 games in a Missouri uniform. He is averaging 12.4 points per game on 44% field goal shooting, he’s making 76% of his free throws (best among those with at least 15 attempts), he’s grabbing 6.1 rebounds per game, and he’s averaging 1.2 combined steals and blocks. And after beginning his season 8-for-37 on 3-pointers (22%), he has since gone 13-for-36 (36%).

Barnett has been everything Mizzou fans could have hoped for, someone you could see challenging for all-conference status as a senior in 2017-18.

Mizzou is 1-13 in his 14 games. The Tigers were 154th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings the first time he suited up, and they are 185th now. Mizzou is 6-17, and the Tigers would probably only be one game worse without him.

That’s insane. I guess you could take that to mean Barnett hasn’t actually made Mizzou any better, but ... think of how bad the Tigers would be without him.

After scoring 17 points on nine field goal attempts in the win over Arkansas on Saturday, he scored 23 points on 13 shots in College Station. He also grabbed seven rebounds. He also did this:

It was almost enough to power Mizzou to a win.

Almost. Not quite.

Texas A&M 76, Missouri 73

Mizzou Texas A&M
Pace (No. of Possessions) 69.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.06 1.10
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.18 1.29
2-PT FG% 52.5% 55.6%
3-PT FG% 36.4% 39.1%
FT% 70.0% 64.3%
True Shooting % 55.0% 58.3%
FTA/FGA 16.1% 23.7%
Mizzou Texas A&M
Assists 20 22
Steals 8 5
Turnovers 9 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.11 1.93
Mizzou Texas A&M
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.0 11.3
Offensive Rebounds 7 11
Difference -5.0 -0.3

Texas A&M was the bigger, more physical team, and that got the Aggies the win. Mizzou shot well overall and, for the second straight game, handily won the ball-handling battle. That was almost enough. But A&M got to the line a bit more and won the expected rebounds battle by nearly five. That’s five extra possessions, basically, and it was enough to give A&M three extra points.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jordan Barnett 29.3 0.95 31 Min, 23 Pts (9-13 FG, 4-8 3PT, 1-2 FT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO
K.J. Walton 12.6 0.41 31 Min, 12 Pts (5-12 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 8 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 PF
Terrence Phillips 9.0 0.28 32 Min, 9 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF
Kevin Puryear 8.7 0.31 28 Min, 9 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-1 3PT), 1 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 4 PF
Russell Woods 4.1 0.27 15 Min, 7 Pts (3-6 FG, 1-1 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 4 PF
Jordan Geist 4.0 0.36 11 Min, 5 Pts (2-3 FG, 1-2 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 TO
Frankie Hughes 3.9 0.32 12 Min, 3 Pts (1-3 FG, 1-3 3PT, 0-1 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl
Reed Nikko 0.7 0.07 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 PF
Adam Wolf 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Cullen VanLeer -0.1 0.00 28 Min, 3 Pts (1-6 FG, 1-5 3PT), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Jordan Barnett 25% 58% 2.7 41% 45% 11% 3%
K.J. Walton 22% 41% 2.6 44% 45% 12% 0%
Terrence Phillips 21% 38% 5.2 73% 16% 6% 5%
Kevin Puryear 15% 53% 3.3 75% 22% 0% 3%
Russell Woods 26% 42% 2.8 41% 41% 11% 7%
Jordan Geist 24% 46% 3.5 45% 23% 24% 8%
Frankie Hughes 15% 32% 2.6 56% 29% 15% 0%
Reed Nikko 14% 27% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Cullen VanLeer 15% 18% 2.1 60% 30% 0% 10%

At the least, this was a different vintage of loss. Mizzou was fine on 3-pointers and really did handle the ball well. But while the Tigers are 95th in FTA/FGA on offense, they didn’t get to the line much, and for the first time in a while, rebounding killed them. A&M is fifth in the country in average height; Mizzou is 210th.

That made the biggest difference, but Mizzou still nearly figure out how to end its road losing streak. But the team needed two guys to step up down the stretch, and only one did.

  • 5:34 remaining: Barnett makes a 3-pointer to tie the game at 65-65.
  • 5:01: DJ Hogg makes a layup to put A&M up 2.
  • 4:31: Mizzou turns the ball over, and Robert Williams scores on a fast break dunk. 69-65.
  • 3:39: Barnett makes a jumper to keep Mizzou within 2.
  • 3:10: Hogg makes a 3-pointer. 72-67.
  • 2:49: Cullen VanLeer misses a 3-pointer.
  • 2:34: Williams dunk. 74-67. Ball game.
  • 2:05: Hogg blocks a KJ Walton layup for good measure.

With 7:20 left, Kevin Puryear hit a 3-pointer. Over the next 7:17, Barnett scored eight points, and all other Mizzou players went scoreless. He just needed someone else to do something, anything, on the offensive side of the court.

If nothing else, this gave us a glimpse of what a decent Missouri team might look like next year. No, I’m not going to say anything about who might be coaching that team, but an actual, sustained senior leader (Barnett) with a bunch of sophomores-turned-juniors and freshmen-turned-sophomores?

There would still be clear, obvious issues regarding size and outside shooting, but ... well, I said “decent,” not “tourney-caliber.” But we’ll see if the continuity you can see on paper actually carries over; it’s been easy to project forward for a while, but when you lose multiple transfers and actually get younger every single year, all the theoretical continuity in the world doesn’t matter.

Regardless, Jordan Barnett’s good. And he appears to be getting better. That’s fun, even if little else is.