In a way, this might be the most Cuonzo Martin win of the Martin era at Missouri. When Martin signed on to be the coach for the Tigers, he was known for fielding fiercely competitive teams who would defend and rebound, and work enough on offense to get the job done.
That was Missouri’s night last night.
It wasn’t anything close to the Tigers “A” game, but it was enough against an overmatched team from the Ohio Valley Conference. Let’s hop in.
DON’T SAY IT ABOUT THE POSSESSIONS! StatBroadcast actually had the possessions at 70, but I use a slightly different metric which had it in the 68 and change range, which rounded up to 69. Ok, you can say it.
- Above when I said this was a very Cuonzo win, a PLUS NINE POINT ONE in expected rebounds is stunningly good. I know the OVC isn’t exactly running out guys like Missouri will see in the SEC, or even on Monday against Butler, but a plus-nine is still a plus nine. They were +17 overall, and Morehead missed 31 field goals and only grabbed six offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Missouri missed 34 shots and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. That’s a heckuva performance no matter your opponent.
- The three point shooting is starting to look like this could be a problem. Missouri is now shooting 26.7% from 3-point range. If you subtract Mark Smith, the Tigers are shooting just 20.6% from deep. And it officially drops below 20% if you subtract Jeremiah Tilmon’s 1-1 performance on the season. The Tigers shoot over 40% of their shots from deep, and haven’t had an issue like this the last few years, but it seems like they’ve got more than a few guys searching for their shot. If they’re going to win games in Kansas City, they’ll need something to drop.
- It’s also hard to ignore the FTA/FGA advantage, where Missouri had an 8% advantage and had 23 attempts to Morehead’s 16, while also hitting at a much higher clip. 20 points from the line versus nine for the Eagles was enough to give the Tigers a significant advantage.
So the effective Field Goal percentages were a virtual draw, the Free Throw advantage went to the Tigers, the turnover rate was a draw, and the Offensive rebound rate was a H-U-G-E Tiger win. When it comes to winning the four factors, Missouri drew two big advantages and that was enough to give them a clear victory.
Your Trifecta: Mark Smith, Dru Smith, Javon Pickett
On the season: Mark Smith 12 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 9 points, Dru Smith 6 points, Xavier Pinson 3 points, Javon Pickett 2 points, Mitchell Smith 1 point.
I think it’s fair to say Mark Smith has been really good this year. It’s also fair to say that this was an uneven of an offensive performance as we’ve had so far this season. If Smith weren’t in first half foul trouble, it might’ve been even better, but I think you’ll take a 21 point, 8 rebound night while only missing two shots from the floor.
Meanwhile, it was the polar opposite from Tilmon. The Morehead State defense was sound and ready for Tilmon with each move. Missouri has done a good job of moving Tilmon around the floor all year long, but the offense looked more stagnant than it has all year. That left Tilmon on the block more often than not. Tilmon’s five turnovers were a drag on the offense, as it just seemed like he was a step slow. Which was a little surprising because his early play was key in helping Mizzou jump out to an early 10 points lead.
WELCOME BACK JAVON: Pickett hasn’t exactly been great all year long. He especially struggled against Wofford and has been prone to turning the ball over as he figures out his role on this year’s team. He isn’t needed as a scorer, so his shot selection has been more methodical and last night was hopefully the first step in him figuring things out. He took eight shots, all inside the arc, and all around the rim. He played more minutes than anyone else, and just when things started to get dicey, it seemed he would step in and make the necessary play to buoy the offense.
It was nice to see the bench get as deep as it did. You can see why the staff is so high on both Tray Jackson and Mario McKinney. They’re exciting young guys, but both were a little quick on the trigger and while McKinney only had one turnover, there were at least three poor decisions while he was out there. Jackson started well, but unleashed a couple quick threes along with three turnovers, and that was more than enough. The flashes are there, and they’ll figure it out in time, but for now it’s easy to see why those minutes wane.
Meanwhile, Kobe Brown continues to have nice moments. He’s still a little all over the place on offense, but certainly inserts himself into the muck around the basket and finds room to make plays.
I’M NOT SURE I’VE EVER SEEN A LINE LIKE PARKER BRAUN’S, with nothing but rebounds, a couple blocks and a foul. I think he broke the algorithm.
IT WASN’T PRETTY, BUT IT GOT THE JOB DONE
This had the look of a game which might be a little uglier than you’d hope. Missouri was coming off a game against a tough opponent in which they played well with a shorter bench. They had a quick turnaround with a looming tournament early next week, and Martin inserted his lineup changes into the game early and often. The mixing of the lineups happened just as the starters were hitting a groove and that caused some friction on offense. You mix that into a team who is still struggling to hit outside shots, and suddenly you have an ugly game against a pretty good Ohio Valley Conference team and you’re sweating for 35 minutes.
But if there’s one thing we can take away from this Missouri team to date, they’re going to defend.
The best offensive rating for an opponent this year was Wofford with a 0.91. The Tigers are now ranked 7th in Adjusted team defensive efficiency at 86.3. They’ve extended pressure more this year, they give you multiple looks on ball screen defense. Last night they went from going under and dropping coverage to icing the ball screens in the second half. More than anything it took Morehead State out of their offensive rhythm. They’re a team who wanted to play at a faster pace and their Time of Possession increased and they have few opportunities in the second half.
The game plan worked to start, got altered, and the adjustments completely finished it off. Now Missouri heads into deeper water. The trip to Kansas City should be a tough one as they face a Butler team who beat Wofford by 19 points (sound familiar?) and play Morehead this Friday. The Tigers are off until then. Hopefully in the meantime, they can find a jump shot.