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Study Hall: Mizzou 68, Georgia 56

This is a very strange team. I like it a lot.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Based on current rankings, Mizzou will end up playing 12 games against top-60 teams over the 18-game SEC schedule. On Wednesday came the second of six in a row.

So far, so good. Mizzou moved on mentally from the gut-wrenching Florida loss and, more importantly, showed up physically. And eventually the ball started going in the basket, too.

Team Stats

Mizzou shot 25 percent from 3-point range and beat a decent team by 12?

I’ve talked all year about a) my frustration in trying to break down basketball games when “Did you make your 3s? Y/N” usually tells you whether your team won or not, and b) my concern about how this Mizzou team react when the 3s aren’t falling.

It took a while, but Mizzou ended up responding pretty well. The Tigers were just 1-for-9 on 3s in the first half, and while shooting only nine is a sign of slight restraint, they were just 7-for-21 (33%) on 2-pointers as well and only got to the line three times. Even with five offensive rebounds, that’s about as directionless as it gets.

Second half:

  • 4-for-11 on 3s (36%) — better still not amazing
  • 12-for-17 on 2s (71%) — yesssssssss
  • 14 free throw attempts (and 12 makes!)
  • Seven more offensive rebounds

Everything went from inside out. Jeremiah Tilmon was 5-for-6 in the second half after going 0-for-3 in the first. Jontay Porter technically only took one shot from the field in the second half but earned eight free throws. Jordan Geist and Kassius Robertson did attempt six second-half 3s but also went 4-for-6 from inside the arc (and 3-for-4 from the line) with three assists and no turnovers. And Kevin Puryear got involved from inside and out, too.

Mizzou attacked from everywhere, in other words, and with everyone. That was lovely to see. As incredible as Jontay Porter was — and to be sure, he was tremendous — four different players scored between nine and 12 points in the second half, and another scored five. If this is Plan B moving forward (for when the 3s aren’t raining down), sign me up.

You’ve got to turn Mizzou over

As good as Georgia’s FG% defense is (the Dawgs currently rank 11th in eFG%), Wednesday certainly suggested what we were already suspecting: you’ve got to force turnovers if you’re going to beat Missouri. It is easily the Tigers’ fatal flaw, and Mizzou has averaged 16.5 TOs per game in four losses.

The Tigers committed six on Wednesday. Georgia’s defense isn’t built around ball control — the Dawgs are in the nation’s bottom 20 in terms of forcing turnovers — and we pretty clearly saw the effects. Mizzou won’t always shoot well, but give the Tigers enough possessions, and they’ll figure out some answers. Despite the spectacularly slow pace, Mizzou only turned the ball over on six of 61 possessions. That’s 51 scoring chances (more or less). Too many for this team.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Jontay, Robertson, Geist

Mizzou is now 4-1 when Geist makes the Trifecta, 6-2 when Jontay makes it (and 3-0 when he’s first), and 7-2 when Robertson makes it. (This has nothing to do with anything ... was just curious. Though I’m pretty sure Geist making it is significant considering Mizzou’s turnover issues this year.)

Jontay > Yante

After dishing two-thirds of Missouri’s assists against Florida, Jontay Porter instead decided to play big man on Wednesday, posting 15 points (with no 3-pointers), grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking three shots. Georgia’s Yante Maten: nine, two, and one, respectively.

Sam already pretty thoroughly covered how good Jontay was in this one. The stats back that sentiment up, to say the least.

Where would this team be without Kassius Robertson’s jumper?

  • Kassius Robertson: 3-for-5 on 3-pointers
  • Everybody else: 2-for-15

I tend to look at the Usage% and %Pass numbers first when I see this table. That tells you who’s dominating possessions (in this case, Tilmon and Puryear) and who’s playing the closest thing to a point guard-style role. On Wednesday, the only two players with a %Pass over 65% (a decent PG benchmark) were Terrence Phillips and Cullen VanLeer, who combined for 14 minutes, zero points, and two assists. In what ended up an easy win.

This is an odd team. I like it a lot.