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Study Hall: Mizzou 68, Central Arkansas 55

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Our first glimpse at the new look Tigers previewed what is likely to be a season long slog on offense.

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I’m not sure Rock M Nation could ever be Rock M Nation without Study Hall. To be frank, it’s Bill Connelly’s fault that I’m here, it’s his fault I give a damn about advanced statistics, and it’s his fault this site exists, so I’m going to do my best to keep this tradition alive.

I’m also NOT Bill. I know, you’re all shocked right?

So I’m also going to adapt this to be my own, probably over time. Starting off it’s probably going to resemble what you remember from all the years past. With that said, let’s get into it!

You never want to make a bunch of judgements based upon a single game...

...Small sample size and all, but the likelihood this season turns into an offensively slog through long stretches of games is probably very high. We could’ve predicted that coming into season, especially once Jontay Porter’s injuries news came to light. With Porter there was a focal point of the offense and piece to play off of him. Right now, there are a bunch of pieces who can play off one elite guy and nobody to really get the ball to on offense.

What happens is you see a team moving in the half court but going through the motions of the offense without a real purpose. There didn’t seem to be a reason for the Tigers offense last night other than they had the ball and had to do something.

There were a few sets, notably one to Torrence Watson and another couple to Jeremiah Tilmon where the purpose was to get a guy the ball in a specific space or area of the floor with a specific shot in mind. They worked hard to get Tilmon on the left block hoping he could attack the middle of the floor, they got Watson the ball on the deep wing with a cleared out baseline hoping he could attack the rim.

They’re going to have to plan these sorts of actions more often because they’ve lost the offense generator in Porter. Porter on his own was good for 20+ points just by being on the floor and attracting attention creating more open opportunities for other guys. Without him Mizzou looked a little stuck last night, and too often got into late shot clock situations without anywhere to go.

Small sample size and all, but Cuonzo Martin and his staff are going to need to figure out how to inject a little more purpose and flow into the offense.

Team Stats!

study hall 2019 uca

So my (read Bill’s: yes I’m blaming Bill for this) sheet projected the incorrect Exp rebound margin, it’s actually: +4.8. I just noticed this so give me a break.

  • Point 1: Since this is game one we really don’t know what a ‘typical Mizzou win’ looks like. I imagine it’s probably going to look a lot like ‘Win the expected rebound margin, win BCI, win TS%. The Tigers did all three.
  • Point 2: The opponent was semi-disinterested in defending hard for 40 minutes so take this with a grain of salt, but 10 turnovers in nearly 70 possessions is EXCELLENT considering the Tigers are running out Jordan Geist at point, and a bunch of young guys who haven’t played much D1 basketball. Is it sustainable? We’ll find out.
  • Point 3: Defensive 2FG% was very good. It was clear Mizzou’s length on the interior bothered the smaller Bears, but the Tigers length on the interior should bother a lot of teams. If Tilmon, Mitchell Smith, Reed Nikko and others are patrolling inside the arc they can affect a lot of shots. It’s worth tracking the rest of the season.
  • Point 4: Not enough free throws.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Mark Smith, Tilmon, Javon Pickett

study hall 2019 uca

Maybe next time I’ll organize this in descending order. But it’s rarely good news with a player who gets only five minutes of clock nearly cracks the trifecta. Reed Nikko had very solid minutes in the first half and I’m a little surprised he didn’t get any run in the second half. On one end I’m pleased they gave Mitchell Smith a longer look, because we kinda know what you’re gonna get with Nikko. It’s just weird to see him be productive in a short run and not see the floor again.

One area Nikko excels is rebounding the ball so even though he only got five minutes of clock I was a little surprised to see a zero in that column.

I don’t know if this is the new norm yet, but it certainly looks like Mizzou is Tilmon and Smith’s team and everyone else is playing for third. When neither one was the focal point of the offense or off the floor things grew stagnant.

TAKEAWAY: There’s a bit of disparity in the Game Score, and that’s not what you want to see in a game where you’re clearly better athletically. In these buy-games Missouri needs to seek out more balance, and they’ll have opportunities to do just that. In game one it’s easy to fall into the trap of leaning on one or two guys and Mark Smith was the first guy to get hot. They fed him and Tilmon the ball and let them carry the weight.

study hall 2019 uca

86% Floor% Reed Nikko? SHOULDA PLAYED MORE!

I honestly don’t know much to say here because like I said above, we don’t yet know what Good Mizzou/Bad Mizzou looks like yet. I tend to think this is slightly below average performance but not all the way to Bad Mizzou bad.

TAKEAWAY: Despite having a rough shooting night, Kevin Puryear and Jordan Geist held their own in every other facet of the game. I want to emphasize this, when Geist — who was dreadful offensively from the floor — was on the bench things got worse for this team offensively. Geist isn’t going to have that many woeful shooting performances this season (at least we hope he doesn’t), and we know he’s not a guy who’ll carry the load most nights, but it’s clear he knows what he’s doing more than anyone else when running the offense. He was +18 when on the court and considering he couldn’t buy a jump shot that’s pretty good overall. It was clear to me that Geist had the offense humming far more than any time he was off the floor.

Summary: I fully expect Mark Smith to finish averaging a double double and only taking 9 shots a game.

If the Tigers can get consistency from their upperclassmen and some occasional hot shooting from the young guys they’re going to be fine. This isn’t a great team, but they’ve got enough there to make some noise.