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When hot shooting from deep can’t cure all that ails you

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Mizzou lost for the first time in six games, and we’re all very frustrated about it.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Before any game, if you ask a coach if they’d take hitting on nine of their first 11 attempts behind the arc, I can assure you they would.

Missouri made six of seven 3-pointers in the first half, and while the Tigers came down to earth a bit in the second, they still eclipsed their season average by shooting over 42%. If you go on the road against a decent but beatable team and hit 12 of 21 from deep, you should win, right?

Mizzou didn’t win. So what happened? A random collection of weird, unfortunate luck and some hard regression to the mean in shooting elsewhere on the court.

TO THE BOX

Box Score Mizzou LSU 2018

Jeremiah Tilmon struggled.

He did have a reason.

Still, Tilmon struggled. He had one point and missed all six shots from the field. On top of that, just one board and three turnovers in 22 minutes. Tilmon’s day was sort of encapsulated by his first possession. He got good position on the block and made a move which got him underneath the rim a little bit but close enough to basically drop the ball in off the glass. He missed, and he missed it badly.

The rest of the game didn’t go much better for Jeremiah either. He made a single free throw in four attempts after shooting six of nine against Texas A&M.

If Mizzou had just gotten the moderately timid version of Tilmon, and not who showed up yesterday, they probably have a six- to eight-point lead at halftime, something they can build upon early in the second. As it was Missouri didn’t have an aggressive, confident Tilmon in the second either — he didn’t attempt a shot.

As Tilmon, and others, struggled around the rim in the first half, Mizzou went away from rim in the second half. Here’s a shot chart of the misses.

shot chart LSU mizzou misses

The recipe Missouri used during its five-game win streak (and for much of the season when Tilmon is available) was to get Tilmon touches, which allows their outside shooting to flourish.

They were capable of overcoming his poor play in the first half because Jontay Porter was four-for-five shooting. But then he went into the tank from the field in the second half, and suddenly Missouri was neutralized on the interior.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Tremont Waters won this game for LSU.

He also highlighted Missouri’s weakness. Mizzou did a decent job defensively on Waters and did what they could to make him work to get his points. But down the stretch they were unable to contain him off ball screens, and it cost them.

Waters is a difficult matchup in a lot of ways. He’s crafty with the ball and has learned to finish around the rim over the length of the SEC. He’s a freshman, and he’s inconsistent —Mizzou fans should be well aware of freshman inconsistency — and typically better at home. The Tigers were unfortunate to get the better version of Waters at home. and he was a difference-maker. And now he’s led his Tigers to four straight home wins, three of those over likely tournament teams.

Missouri, on the other hand, has missed a lot of opportunities to clinch and win games due to its lack of a true point guard. The Tigers have held on to win several games in spite of it, and are 6-4 in games decided by five points or less. Overall that’s pretty good considering their main flaw. But it is noticeable when you see someone like Waters, who can impact the game late and execute and get the shots he wants or get the shots he wants for his teammates.

THE REFS COST US THE GAME!

Not really, but I wanted to bring this up:

For all the talk about freedom of movement, the rule on the charge and block is still mostly the same. The rule as it’s supposed to be enforced is a player must be allowed to come down if he leaves the ground before the defender is set.

mizzou LSU kassius robertson charge call

I will, however, give the official the benefit of the doubt on this, as it’s a bang-bang kind of play. Kassius Robertson was leaving the floor before the defender was set, but to me the spirit of freedom of movement is where I have the biggest issue. The reason they imposed these new rules is to give the benefit of the doubt to the offensive player. So in bang-bang kinds of plays, the defender should be called for the foul.

Again, this is a tough call. But if you want to clean up freedom of movement, you have to start being harder on guys trying to take charges.

Oh, and this, of course, is a foul.

kassius robertson fouled lsu mizzou

With that said, I did think the refs did a good job for most of the game. And truth be told, I prefer them to go a little lighter on their whistles down the stretch, so I don’t really mind how either of those two calls turned out. So as usual, this is not a ‘blame the refs’ point, just something I wanted to clarify from yesterday.

Mizzou shot horribly on 2-pointers and went 7-for-17 from the line. That doesn’t include both Robertson and Porter missing the front end of 1-and-1’s while you’re in the middle of holding LSU scoreless for roughly 5:34 seconds of game action.

Missouri overall has been aces at the line all season and against LSU, good free throw shooters (Robertson, Kevin Puryear and Porter) went 6-13. That’s 46.1% from three guys who had shot 82.1% prior to yesterday from the line this season.

So while the officials weren’t at their best at the end, neither was Missouri. You couple 10 missed free throws with Jeremiah Tilmon playing his worst game in a while, and there’s your recipe for a road loss.

But take heart. Everyone else ahead of Missouri lost as well. Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida all lost, so did Alabama and Texas A&M.

The SEC is a tough league to win in, and there are going to be 10 teams between 7-11 and 11-7 in conference in all likelihood. Take all this into account and remember Mizzou wasn’t favored by Vegas or KenPom yesterday. They were supposed to lose by a point and did. Somethings things just are what they are.