If you’re looking for more of the macro-view of where Mizzou is right now, I wrote about that yesterday. We’re going to focus on this game in the micro-view, and how the combination of a hot South Carolina team and a Jeremiah Tilmon-less Missouri team left the Tigers just a possession or two from capturing a needed road win.
Early in the second half, the South Carolina lead surged to as many as 13 points, and it looked like they might put away the Tigers at that point. But the Tigers cut the lead to three on three separate occasions — at 9:41, 7:54, and at 3:13 — but the last play they needed to pull even eluded them, and the Gamecocks were able to make just enough plays to keep the Tigers at bay.
- The Tigers are a very tough team, and it was evidenced by the fact even without Tilmon for much of the game they still won the rebound battle: And not just of the expected variety. Mizzou won the overall rebound battle 31-27. Despite having everything go against them, the Tigers kept battling and that is a testament to their coach.
- The PPS numbers for Mizzou were great, for South Carolina they were ridiculous: Here’s where I’d like to heap some praise on Carolina and bring up the fact Missouri caught them at a bad time. This team was struggling through the early part of their non-conference schedule and suddenly they started to right the ship. The problem is they were going up against Michigan (undefeated and 6th in KenPom), Virginia (undefeated and 2nd in KenPom), and Clemson (10-6 and no losses outside of the top 50 in KenPom).
The Gamecock’s guards have been the major difference. With Hasani Gravett playing better, and A.J. Lawson and KeyShawn Bryant providing something, it’s freed up the more than solid interior play to make this team a very dangerous one in league play. Now they’ve taken down Florida, Mississippi State, and Missouri. With a couple road games coming up, going 1-1 could leave with you a compelling case for the Gamecocks as one of the 6 best teams in the SEC.
Their formula hasn’t changed, all they needed was some consistent guard play.
- Missouri’s 3-point shooting nearly saved their bacon: but South Carolina’s Free Throw shooting saved theirs. Here’s some funny math...
- Mizzou 3-pointers: 30 points
- South Carolina free throws: 29 points
- Mizzou free throws: 17 points
- South Carolina 3-pointers: 18 points
For those following at home, that’s a net result of zero. A tie. But all season long, the Tigers have struggled from 2-point range, which is Carolina’s strength. And the Gamecocks made that the difference.
Your Trifecta: Javon Pickett, Mark Smith, Jordan Geist
On the season: Jordan Geist 23 points, Mark Smith 18 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 12 points, Javon Pickett 9 points, Kevin Puryear 8 points, Xavier Pinson 6 points, Torrence Watson 5 points, Reed Nikko 1 point.
We’ve been charting each game, and Javon Pickett’s per-minute GameScore is one of only two over 1.0 for the season (Xavier Pinson’s 1.04 against Tennessee), and his total GameScore is one of only two above 30.0 (Jordan Geist’s 30.2 against UCF). To say Pickett was good against South Carolina would be an understatement. Keep in mind, the Adjusted GameScore weighs contributions against the rest of the team, so when others play bad it can inflate the score of another. However, I think it’s safe to say Pickett had his best game to date, especially considering that he had zero turnovers in a game where the Tigers were kicking the ball around the gym.
Kevin Puryear is doing a pretty good job coming in fourth of late. I think that’s worth pointing out that while Puryear isn’t the offensive weapon many hoped, he’s still a very productive player that finds a lot of ways into the box score.
On Jordan Geist:
South Carolina's Frank Martin barely settled into his seat when he started talking about Jordan Geist: "Holy cow. I told him after the game I don’t think I’ve been around too many guys who have improved like he’s improved. He don’t go away. He just keeps coming at you."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) January 13, 2019
If only Jeremiah Tilmon could figure out a way to not foul.
A good offensive game is where you see multiple players hit the 40-percent level in floor percentage. Mizzou had one, and Javon Pickett was at SIXTY ONE PERCENT. That’s very good.
Meanwhile, Mark Smith has really become the Jordan Barnett of this years team. He gives you so much and is a capable shot maker that you want him to take more. Yet there’s so much value in his efficiency that I’d worry about it getting lost with more usage.
There’s still a lot pieces we aren’t sure about, but one area I’ve been really critical of Torrence Watson is his inability to do anything more than shoot the ball. (Don’t get me wrong, he’s still pretty good at it.) For Watson, getting to the line was good to see, as was his rebounding. Even though it wasn’t particularly noticeable, seeing the ball find his hands six times after a shot is something that can give him confidence. Though after those first two 3s went in, I was pretty sure he was gonna have like five or six for the game.
This was a winnable road game that the Tigers missed out on a chance to capture.
And being 0-2 in league play isn’t where you want to be. But there is some hope on the horizon — if the Tigers can get one in the win column against Alabama on Wednesday. They’d follow that game with two winnable contests on the road. An 0-5 or 0-6 start is possible sure, but so is a 4-2 start. Just go out and beat Alabama at home to start, worry about the rest after that.