For the first 25 minutes there were all kinds of reasons to be nervous.
Missouri hasn’t been a great team, but they were around 200 spots better than a struggling Oral Roberts team and here they were, up just two points with 14:12 to play in the second half.
Then everything changed, keyed by an important offensive rebound by Mitchell Smith, Torrence Watson buried a three. Then on the ensuing possession Watson tipped the defensive rebound to Jordan Geist who streaked down the floor for a layup, then stole the inbounds for another bucket and the foul. Geist would convert the 3-point play and for the next 11 minutes Mizzou ran away with the game extending the lead all the way out to 29 points.
For the full game story, I’ll refer you to Brendan Lavell’s excellent gamer from last night: Missouri offense explodes to finish off Oral Roberts.
After a few great games from Javon Pickett it was Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson’s time to shine. Those two, along with Geist and Mark Smith, throttled Oral Roberts from the outside while Jeremiah Tilmon fouled his way through a productive 16 minutes.
**if you have recommendations on the stats/layout, I am listening but will try to input changes over time. As I said in a previous thread, I’m working to make this post-game piece my own and put my own spin on it. So bare with me and keep the feedback coming**
- Bill often complained about ‘when the three’s go in or not’: and it certainly does have it’s impact on the game but the good news here is Missouri is looking like a dangerous team from the outside. The Tigers offense is geared to get open looks from the outside and when they get them Mizzou takes advantage. Watson, Pinson, Geist, and Smith were 11-of-19 from deep and that’s good enough to beat a lot of teams, even in the SEC.
- Mizzou’s TORate is down to 20.4% on the season: When the bigs take care of the ball, the guards have been good enough to be an equally efficient offense. Anytime the Tigers take care of the ball and get north of 1.25 PPS they’re going to be competitive. When they get near 1.5? Yeah, I’m sure Cuonzo Martin will take that.
- On games where the Tigers hold their opponents to under 1.0 PPP they’re 4-1: Over 1.0 PPP and they’re 1-2. As much as the offense is going to carry this team, Martin teams rely on defense to get them through and this teams defense is still just ok. They’re 74th in AdjD in KenPom after ORU. I plan on spending a lot of time talking about offense but the reality is once this team hits conference play they’ve got to hit certain metrics defensively if they’re going to surpass the current expectations.
You can see the makings of a really good, if not great, defensive team. The rotations are close, and most of the mistakes they’re making right now aren’t made of a lack of effort.
Your Trifecta: Xavier Pinson, Jordan Geist, Torrence Watson
On the season: Mark Smith 12 points, Jordan Geist 11 points, Kevin Puryear 7 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 7 points, Javon Pickett 5 points, Torrence Watson 5 points, Xavier Pinson 4 point, Reed Nikko 1 point.
I can’t say if we’re ever going to see a stat line quite like this in a blowout game for this version of the Tigers. So far this season they’ve tended to rely on two or maybe three hot shooting nights to get the offense going but last night was buoyed by pretty much everyone. Basically everyone who they need to get contributions from this season they got them. The game scores are pretty hilarious when you look a the per minute numbers, Pinson scored the highest overall (and he truly had a great night as evidenced by this tweet below) with a 14.6 game score, but lost out because he was on the floor during walk-on time and Watson went nuts from the floor.
This is true! So Pinson was essentially +25 https://t.co/0kei1KhNdc— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) December 8, 2018
I’m pretty sure we’re going to see at least one 30 point game from Watson before his career is over.
If Jeremiah Tilmon can figure out the middle ground of not fouling and just stays on the floor for around 23-27 minutes per game what a difference he can make for the ceiling of this team.
Look at those turnover percentages! Nikko, Santos (who’s super rusty), and the Walk-ons weren’t great but nobody else was even over 10%. More of that please.
I could look at most of these percentages and gush, but the reality is here the Tigers played a team ranked 331st in Adjusted Defense so they should look pretty good.
So what can we learn from a game like this?
Missouri went into these last two games in search of a few things.
There have been a few knows coming into the season and for the most part the knowns have lived up to their end of the bargain. Jordan Geist has been a little better than advertised, Kevin Puryear has been a little more inconsistent, and while Tilmon has frustrated at times you can see the stages of growth.
But coming into the seasons we had question marks about the rest of the roster and there’s still a ways to go for them, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what to expect. And these last two games have done exactly what Martin and his staff wanted:
Building confidence in some young guys, in particular Watson and Pinson. Get a couple easy games where the talent can overwhelm the opponents and let the guys get their own ball rolling. Get Tilmon the ball and work on how the offense moves the ball on kick-outs, all the while working on your interior defense rotations and closeouts.
Missouri got better these last two games, and after a 3-0 week they head into finals week and start to prepare for Xavier.