I just can’t be mad. I kind of want to, but I can’t. A win over LSU would have put Mizzou in a tie with Tennessee for second in the conference. That would have been awesome, and instead a loss did quite a bit of damage to Missouri’s chances for an SEC tournament double-bye. (The odds are still solid, but they could have been excellent.) This was one that got away, and considering the horrid no-call on Mizzou’s last possession*, the opportunity for bitterness doubles.
But here’s where stats and projections change my frame of mind quite a bit.
- Mizzou was projected to lose by one.
- The Tigers got one of the worst games of an ill Jeremiah Tilmon’s life — as you’ll see below, he took about 11 points out of Mizzou’s box score.
- While they shot better than their season average from 3-point range (they got 36 points out of 21 3-point attempts, while their average would have given them about 25), they also got eight fewer points than normal from 27 2-point attempts and six fewer points than normal from 17 free throws. They shot inside the arc as poorly as they will ever shoot.
- They still only lost by one.
Basketball is stupid sometimes, and Mizzou caught some stupid bounces/illnesses against a team that is very good at home. And Mizzou damn near won it anyway. I’ll keep trying to be mad, but I don’t see it happening.
* I know I’m in the minority on Team Call The Last Minute Like You Called The Rest of the Damn Game and all — I loathe the “let the players decide the game by completely redefining what’s a foul on the final possession” thing — but good lord, Kassius got bear-hugged. I saw a lot of “they never call that on the final possession” responses, but ... bear-hugged. You’re still supposed to call that.
Even after Saturday, Mizzou is still 27th in 2-point shooting (39.2%) and 51st in free throw shooting (75.4%). Tilmon and Jontay Porter don’t tend to go a combined 2-for-8 from the line, and Robertson doesn’t tend to go 3-for-6. While we’re at it, Tilmon, Kevin Puryear, and Jordan Barnett don’t tend to go 2-for-13 on 2-pointers, especially against a team that ranks 270th in 2PT% defense. But here we are. Basketball is random.
Mizzou nearly overcame this poor shooting with good long-range shooting. Barnett and Robertson don’t tend to shoot 9-for-13 from long-range either.
Such a strange shooting line defined the game, but even with all the misses, Mizzou could have survived with either good ball-handling or good rebounding. But the BCI advantage lurched toward Mizzou’s opponent after two straight happy ball-handling games, and for the third straight game, Mizzou got pushed around on the glass.
In terms of expected rebounds, Mizzou is minus-13.9 over the last three contests, minus-4.6 per game. Three games is officially a (small) trend. Something to watch moving forward, especially if the Tigers get outrebounded on Tuesday by an Ole Miss team they beat on the glass not too long ago.
Your Trifecta: Barnett-Robertson-Geist
For the third straight game, Mizzou’s two seniors — Barnett and Robertson — were the top two here in some order. They combined for not only all those 3-pointers, but also 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and only three turnovers. That’ll play.
Really, the contributions were pretty normal overall ... except for one. Jordan Geist produced a bit more than normal, and Puryear and Porter combined for 15 Adj. GS points. Plus, Mizzou got positive production from both Reed Nikko and Cullen VanLeer (CVL did almost nothing in 22 minutes, but he indeed wasn’t in the red at least). That should be enough to take the game. But man oh man, Jeremiah.
Tilmon was battling illness, and ... we’ll just say he has not yet learned how to fight through illness and play well. He had a miserable Saturday. He managed to avoid fouls, but considering foul trouble would have granted more minutes to Nikko, maybe that would have been a good thing this time. But yeah, one point on six FG attempts and four free throws, plus two more turnovers than rebounds? And no defensive rebounds in 22 minutes? Guh. Get well soon, Jeremiah.
Mizzou still tried to work its offense through Porter and Tilmon, but to say the least, it didn’t pay off quite as well as it has in other recent games.
Oh yeah, and FLOOR CHECK EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: When Mizzou has at least four players posting a 40 percent Floor% (the percentage of your possessions that result in points), the Tigers had won all but once. Make it twice. Having a guy combine a 29-percent Usage Rate with a five-percent Floor% offset the stellar offensive games from most everyone else.
This team has bounced back from worse than this, and I would expect the Tigers to handle their business at home against Ole Miss tomorrow. The Rebels have lost seven in a row and have nearly fallen out of the KenPom top 100. Take out your frustrations on them and get ready for a huge game in Lexington over the weekend.