It started off well enough. Mizzou jumped out to a 17-6 lead against Arkansas after nines minutes of play, controlling tempo and taking care of the ball. It was everything you need to do to secure a road win. The Tigers turned the ball over four times in that stretch, which is a high number, but the defense and pace matched the game plan, and it looked sustainable.
- Possessions? Nice
- The sheer difference between the PPP and PPS is honestly kind of hysterical: I mean sad, yeah. Sad.
- Ok, let’s talk about turnovers: Posting a a 33.1 turnover percentage is bad, and it’s the second worse for Mizzou in the KenPom era. The worst was Iowa State. According to KenPom, this ain’t good.
Missouri has a turnover problem. They have a turnover problem because of a lot of mitigating factors. They have young guards, foul prone bigs and only one true point guard on the roster.
Your Trifecta: Mark Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon, Jordan Geist
For all the complaining I saw about Jeremiah Tilmon, I really don’t think he was the problem. Yes, he fouled out, but he also provided 27 minutes of court time and was crucial to the early first-half run. Tilmon had several odd calls go against him, but progress is never linear, and for as good as his first 10 minutes where the next 17 were up and down.
Mark Smith was excellent. He just needed help.
More on Tilmon and Smith, I said this part of the way through the game:
Gafford/Joe = 28 points— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) January 24, 2019
everything else = trash
Smith/Tilmon = 28 points
everything else = 15 turnovers (trash)
Smith and TIlmon finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds, 6 turnovers, and a 47.4 game score in 64 minutes. Gafford and Joe combined for 36 and 11 in 68 minutes. So maybe Missouri needed a few more minutes from Tilmon, but it’s the rest of the team... 29 points, 18 turnovers.
Jordan Geist is sort of the engine which spurs the Tigers on most nights, and last night Geist wasn’t at his best. Early on he was under control and handled the pressure well, but as the rest of the team faltered, Geist started to press more and more. He wasn’t able to overcome his teammates’ mistakes, instead compounding his own.
Geist’s pressure valve was released briefly by some positive minutes from Xavier Pinson. Pinson missed the last game with a ‘DNP-CD’ next to his name. Pinson had a typical batch or turnovers, but I can see him in Bud Walton Arena in two years handling pressure and whipping the Razorbacks by 15 points with care and poise. And Pinson isn’t the only one. Javon Pickett, the surprise breakout freshman of the season, was awful on both ends for 10 minutes. Torrence Watson did one thing right, and a lot of things wrong in his eight minutes. Kevin Puryear wasn’t bad but wasn’t particularly good either. And we’re all waiting for K.J. Santos to prove he can provide positive minutes.
Overall, it was a disappointing end with a promising start. Missouri is sitting in a 1-4 hole with one of the hottest teams in the league coming to Mizzou Arena on Saturday. We’ve seen they’re capable of putting together good long stretches of basketball, but the competition in the SEC has been a step up, and the ‘long’ stretches have gotten shorter.
There’s still a lot of intrigue with this team, and they’re very close to being 12-5 and 2-3 in conference play — if they could only curb the turnovers. We also know the Achilles heel of this team for the last two seasons has been their inability to take care of the ball against pressure. But the shooting and execution (when not turning the ball over) with a young team is something that will improve with experience. Yes, it’s frustrating in the interim, but this team has some truly exciting building blocks. We’re just watching all the corners filled in along the way.