Strictly looking at this game as a 45 minute play won’t quite tell the story of how Missouri was able to jump out of the gates, fall way behind the curve, take control in the second half, slip back behind, scrap and claw to give themselves a chance, have a terribly difficult shot fall to extend the game, and out hustle UCF to win the upset over a tough team at home in overtime.
Rather, let this play out in another way. Without Jeremiah Tilmon on the floor Mizzou was outscored by 17 points. With him on the floor, the Tigers were a completely different ball club. Matt posted the 2nd half numbers last night on twitter:
More specifically, look at the second-half metrics for #Mizzou and UCF. Both offenses were basically equal. But UCF only attempted THREE free throws and started coughing the ball up. pic.twitter.com/vAezC1FJoA— Matt Harris (@MattJHarris85) December 2, 2018
Tilmon was on the floor for all but about 30 seconds of game action in the second half, and played about four minutes in the first half and all of Overtime. With Tilmon out of the game, Missouri didn’t have the interior offensive presence to force UCF’s defense to shift on post entries. UCF was so unafraid of Missouri’s post players in the 1st half they switched to a 2-3 zone and took away the one thing that was working early for the Tigers. The 3-point shot.
Missouri made four of their first eight 3-point attempts, then Tilmon fouled out of the first half and the offensive attack turned to mush.
Give UCF credit, they’re a top 25 defense and it showed in the first half. But the system Martin runs is one which spaces out defenses, the caveat is they need something inside to force the defense closer to the rim and Tilmon, even when he’s struggling offensively, provides that dimension. Once Tilmon got going, suddenly the spacing was there and Missouri was able to get more open looks.
- MIZZOU WON BCI!: They dominated BCI in the second half but I think Missouri fans can live with a 17% turnover rate. But how you win BCI is with a showing like Jordan Geist had, zero turnovers. Pinson didn’t get extended minutes but he also had zero turnovers.
- 2FG Shooting is still a problem: The Tigers currently have two players who shoot better than 50% on 2-point field goals. Tilmon shoots a hair under 52%, while Nikko hits on 62.5%. At some point this needs to get better.
- UCF is big and athletic and Missouri out rebounded them: Javon Pickett starts because he does the little things the other freshman haven’t figured out yet. Last night was a great example of why, he goes to the glass. Three offensive rebounds, all incredibly well timed. Pickett’s effort was a difference maker in the game last night.
Your Trifecta: Jordan Geist, Javon Pickett, Jeremiah Tilmon
On the season: Mark Smith 12 points, Jordan Geist 9 points, Kevin Puryear 7 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 6 points, Javon Pickett 3 points, Xavier Pinson 1 point, Torrence Watson 1 point, Reed Nikko 1 point.
Mitchell Smith made up for the lack of production from Puryear who struggled with the imposing size of Tacko Fall. It seems like every time Puryear went to the rim he was getting turned away by Fall (who had SIX blocked shots). I feel noting Smiths contributions because we had a sidebar on Smith against Temple and I felt he didn’t play all that well, he just made some shots. Smith made shots against UCF but he contributed so much more. He had seven boards and provided energy and effort, and the void when Puryear struggled.
Clearly the story lately has been the play of Jordan Geist. Geist has been dealing with a back injury which explains his slow starts but he did everything the Tigers needed from the floor. Including harassing UCF’s B.J. Taylor. Jordan has needed some time to warm up, but by the second half he turns around and is the MVP. Geist has caught an awful lot of flack from all corners of Mizzou-land over the years but it’s impossible not to appreciate him at this point.
I’d also like to add, Missouri won a game where Mark Smith played his worst game (from a statistical standpoint — Kennesaw St. was probably worse by everyone else was so bad his GameScore was better).
Several people were wondering what happened with Torrence Watson since he only saw the floor for a few minutes and looked to get banged up. It’s possible he didn’t see the floor after getting banged up because he was still feeling it. It’s also possible Watson isn’t seeing the minutes he, or the rest of us, would like to see him getting because he’s still trying to figure out how to help on the floor without scoring. Right now if Watson isn’t scoring, he isn’t contributing and he’s got to get over that hump.
Look at Pickett’s line. He’s figured out how he needs to play in order to stay on the floor. Cuonzo Martin is learning to trust him because he knows he’ll get effort, despite playing from behind in some other categories where Watson has him beat.
There’s a quick turnaround, which should be good for the young guys to understand how soon they need to get past the emotion of the tough win.
But we are beginning to see what can work for Missouri.
I don’t think many games will be won with the shooting disparity, but you saw effort and emotion and excitement. They took care of the ball and played through the post which opened up solid 3-point shooting. The defense still has some issues but you have to imagine Cuonzo Martin can straighten that out.
The Tigers have a couple games where they should be able to test this new recipe. Let’s see if they can begin to develop the bench a little more in that time.