A lot of nights tend to come down to whether or not you make your 3s. But on a night when Mizzou actually got their outside shots to go down at a very nice clip, they were swamped by a late first-half run, one keyed by Dean Wade hitting three of his four 3-pointers to give Kansas State a lead they never relinquished.
Kansas State is a legitimate top-25 team, but one who had been unable to hit from deep so far this season. Going into the game, the Wildcats were only shooting 20 percent from behind the arc. Wade had taken just four attempts and made none of them. Cartier Diarra was just 1 of 7 on the year, and he made two of his three attempts. He and Wade combined were shooting 9 percent on the season. Against the Tigers, they connected at a 67-percent clip.
Sometimes it’s just not your night.
Point 1: Most of the time I like to focus on what Missouri does and less on what their opponent does because with my background in coaching we tended to always focus on the review of what we had done in the previous game. But I think looking at the sort of play the Wildcats put together is worthy here and for a variety of reasons.
We know Missouri is a work in progress. We knew coming it was likely going to be a 2-1 trip as a best-case scenario. Sure there was a faint hope K-State continued their awful shooting, and the Tigers would be able to hang in the game, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m skeptical of K-State as a real Big 12 contender, but they’re still a legitimate tournament team, and their one big flaw was not a flaw against Missouri. If Bruce Weber’s crew gets shots to fall, they are going to be as tough of an out for anyone in the country, and that includes our mutual rival.
To beat Kansas State, Missouri needed them to shoot poorly. And the Tigers didn’t get that. Mizzou didn’t help themselves with some of their defense. Sagging on ball screens when Wade was working a pick and pop and leaving him open at the top of the key isn’t ideal. And they got punished. If Cuonzo Martin and his staff were counting on Wade and his teammates to shoot the way they’d done all year it was a fairly significant risk. So you tip your cap and say well done.
- Point 2: The turnovers creeped back in, especially during a crucial stretch where Kansas State got separation on 13-0 run before half.
- Point 3: Finishing at plus-1 in expected rebounds is pretty solid against a rough-and-tumble team, particularly an experienced team.
Your Trifecta: Jordan Geist, Mark Smith, Xavier Pinson
We’re five games in, and there’s a long way to go, particularly with a team relying on as much youth as the Tigers are right now. But we are starting to see how the plan for a successful season takes shape. How the Tigers will need to compete on a nightly basis. The things they need are starting to come around, maybe if sporadical Jordan Geist has gotten out of whatever funk he’s been in the past few games, and we’ve seen Puryear be more consistent in the past.
Mark Smith isn’t high usage and needs to find a way to finish around the rim, but his shooting from outside has been consistent.
Jeremiah Tilmon played about as bad as he could’ve possibly played the last few games. He spent an entire offseason working diligently to overcome his fouling issues, and he’s improved! So far this season his FC/40 is a mere 5.6 compared to 7.5.
My issue is how Tilmon lets the fouls affect his play. When he picks up a quick foul early, you can see the mental game begin. And this is the test for his coach. When Tilmon is focused and playing hard, he’s a load, when he’s thinking instead of reacting more fouls follow. And if fouls don’t follow, usually turnovers do. Tilmon’s turnover rate is up 6 percentage points this season, and it’s caused his offensive rating to drop.
Tilmon has been too slow to recognize double teams, and when he goes to make his move, he finds himself in trouble. The book is out that you double Tilmon the moment the ball hits the floor, and in those cases, he’s as ineffective an offensive weapon as Missouri has.
TAKEAWAY: A combined 23.2 Adjusted GameScore from Pinson and Nikko was mostly wasted by poor play from a lot of actors. But if you can find consistent minutes from both of those two the floor on the ceiling likely goes up significantly. That’s good.
My second broken stat sheet this time thanks to Christian Guess, who had his redshirt ripped off for seven minutes of questionable defense, no stats, but good effort. It will be interesting to track where Guess goes from here. He’s apparently behind the other freshman wings, and there won’t be more minutes out there as the season wears on. If anything there will be less. The decision to play him was certainly interesting.
I like the idea of Pinson being a more consistent shot maker.
TAKEAWAY: I think I’ve figured out why Javon Pickett is playing ahead of Torrence Watson right now. Pickett provides more to the box score.
ooking at the combined stats of the two, Pickett seems to fill the box score a little more. He rebounds better, he’s not as big of a liability on defense either.
Torrence is figuring things out for sure, but he’s still got a ways to go. He’s taken some charges, and he’s giving effort on defense. While he’s certainly prone to overplaying and getting beaten on back doors, and he’s still figuring out the level of effort required to play defense. The faster it comes together, the better off he’ll be, and the better off the Tigers will be. They need another consistent perimeter threat on offense.
The Tigers get a break until next week, when Temple comes to Mizzou Arena.
At this point in the season, we’re on track. They have rarely played well together, and we’ve yet to see the best version of what this team can be. That’s either excellent news or just a harbinger of a long season. But I’m choosing to think this team can continue to grow and get better and find a way to beat good teams instead of letting the game get away from them after 15 minutes and being forced to play catch up.