I said last night, and I stand by the original thoughts, there’s a lot of positives you can take away from this game. I watched the game unfold, and even as the weird predictable late first-half malaise settled in suddenly leaving the Tigers down 10, there were little things happening which looked better over the previous five games.
What happened: Jeremiah Tilmon made two consecutive free throws to put the Tigers up two points at 28-26 after the under-four media timeout. Then, two turnovers (Jordan Geist and Torrence Watson), two fouls (Geist), another turnover (Puryear), a made free throw, a made 3 and another turnover (Mark Smith) provided the Tigers an ugly enough stretch to push Temple into a commanding situation for the start of the second half. From up two to down 10.
In the second half, another problematic stretch saw Mizzou cut the lead to 55-52 before three turnovers (Xavier Pinson, Mitchell Smith, and Pinson again) and a missed jumper allowed Temple to stretch the margin to 64-52.
In a 64-possession game, Missouri gave away seven of their 15 turnovers in approximately 6:30 minute of game action. Meaning the other eight came in 33:30 of gameplay.
Good Mizzou: 33.5 minutes: 73 points, 8 turnovers, +18
Bad Mizzou: 6.5 minutes: 4 points, 7 turnovers, -20
With a young team, you hope to see the bad version a lot less as the season wears on. Last night the Tigers were very good for about 83.8 percent of the time.
I’m not remotely saying once this team grows up there will be 100% Good Mizzou. It’s basketball, runs happen and sometimes your team plays bad. This happens to even the best of teams. But if the bad version can simply find a way to -11 or -15 instead of -20 then you’re winning close games and playing from ahead instead of trying to catch up.
- Eww, BCI: Hoooooooly Moooooooooooooooly, the BCI. Hide your eyes. Temple’s ball control was outstanding. The Tigers aren’t a team that’ll turn you over a bunch, but they did everything you could want your team to do when it came to controlling the ball. 5.2 is just an absurd number.
- Gettin’ Fouled, Shooting’ FTs: It’s now two games in a row where the Tigers did a much better job of getting to the free throw line. Part of that was Jeremiah Tilmon, who was playing aggressively and getting fouls called for him instead of against him.
- Make more 2s: There probably won’t be a ton of games where Mizzou will out-shoot and out-rebound their opponent by those margins and lose the game. But one area where the Tigers are struggling is their two-point shooting. Last night: 48 percent, which came on the heels of a 42-percent outing against K-State. Mizzou has had just two games at or above 50 percent, and those were the first two games of the season.
Your Trifecta: Mark Smith, Kevin Puryear, Jeremiah Tilmon
On the season: Mark Smith 12 points, Kevin Puryear 7 points, Jordan Geist 6 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 5 points, Xavier Pinson 1 point, Torrence Watson 1 point, Javon Pickett 1 point, Reed Nikko 1 point.
Watching the second half, I nearly talked myself into thinking Geist would make the trifecta, but this game was really about Jeremiah Tilmon’s second half. Oh, and Mark Smith’s continued efficiency. Oh, and Kevin Puryear exploiting some mismatches to get to the rim.
On the other hand, Xavier Pinson picked a bad night to have his worst game. He did have a nice pass to Mitchell Smith in the first half but four turnovers in just 14 minutes. His freshman counterpar, Torrence Watson, wasn’t far behind either.
Missouri is really found something in the second half: And it’s something I mentioned in the first half—
I’m still a bigger fan of getting Tilmon moving around the perimeter setting screens and handoffs for some roll opportunities over pitching it to him on the block.— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) November 28, 2018
The Tigers stopped feeding Tilmon the ball and let him find his own offense, and surprise, he was able to! Jeremiah is a very talented athlete and a guy who can clean up around the rim. The more you focus on a more traditional matchup where he plays with his back to the basket, the more you lose his advantage. His second jump and quickness around the rim make him a really great offensive rebounder. At this stage of his career, he hasn’t shown himself to be a great passer out of double teams, which means he gets hard-double-teamed a lot. That explains why the sophomore’s turnover percentage has skyrocketed on those possessions.
The floor percentage for Smith, headlined by a 4.0 turnover percentage, is excellent. Smith is turning into everything he was advertised as before his freshman year at Illinois. He’s strong with the ball, stout defensively and is currently shooting over 50 percent from 3-point range.
These kinds of trends (coupled with his surprisingly good defense) give us good reason to think Smith can be a stalwart at his position for the next three seasons.
We can also see Tilmon improving by merely making him less of a focal point. With him playing well, and Geist and Puryear finding a little more consistency, there’s a glimmer of hope, even after an ugly 3-3 start riddled with uneven play.
We knew and even said multiple times when the news broke, losing Jontay Porter was going to cause a lot of issues for this team. They went from hoping to be on the bubble to hoping to stay above .500. Not all is lost but losing that high-level talent lowered the ceiling and shrunk the margin of error, and it forces a host of freshmen guards into roles they aren’t prepared for at this point.
With a lot of season ahead, the roles and expectations may have adjusted through the lens of the fan. But the foundation of the program is built this season more than any in the last six before it.