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Hoops Preview: Can Missouri get its mojo back against Charleston Southern?

The Buccaneers are struggling, and Missouri needs to get back in the win column. A match made in heaven!

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Southern at Michigan State
Hey, look, it’s Rocket Watts!
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

At the risk of oversimplifying (and dramatizing) things, we’ve reached a sticking point in the 2019-2020 Missouri basketball season.

We know Missouri is good — bad teams don’t go to Xavier and force overtime. But how good is still very much in question. The Tigers have throttled nearly every team that has dared step into Mizzou Arena, but have looked far more vulnerable against programs of higher renown. Ideally, the Tigers would have another win or two in hand and a little more wiggle room in the back half of their non-conference slate. Instead, the Tigers are 4-3 and in need of a winning streak to enter SEC play on a high note.

To this point, the Tigers have two types of games left: non-Quadrant games against Charleston Southern, Southern Illinois and Chicago State; and Quadrant One games at Temple and against Illinois in St. Louis. Both of those last two games would provide a good entry point for a potential tournament resume, though the Tigers will need to fill it up with some high-profile scalps in conference play.

But before the Tigers get there, they need to take care of business and get back in the win column. And there are very few teams in Division I basketball that will give them a better chance to do so than the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, whose best win came over the fourth-lowest ranked team in KenPom.

The Scout

The Starters

Position Missouri (4-3) Charleston Southern (2-5)
Position Missouri (4-3) Charleston Southern (2-5)
PG Dru Smith (Rs. Jr., 6'3", 203) Dontrell Shuler (So., 6'2", 180)
CG Mark Smith (Jr., 6'5", 220) Malik Battle (Fr., 6'3", 180)
WING Javon Pickett (So., 6'5", 220) Phlandrious Fleming Jr. (Jr., 6'4", 195)
PF Kobe Brown (Fr., 6'7", 240) Duncan LeXander (So. 6'8", 205)
POST Jeremiah Tilmon (Jr., 6'10", 260) Sadarius Bowser (So. 6'9", 220)

Note: These starting lineups are projected.

Charleston Southern may seem to have the size to match Missouri down low, but it’s the guards and wings who make most of the offense tick.

Shuler and Fleming Jr. are the Bucs first and second options mostly because they’re both on the floor so often — they run minutes percentages of 66.7 and 75.4, respectively. Battle is actually the only player on the roster that is running a KP offensive rating above 100, but the freshman gets limited minutes and little usage when he takes the floor. He is shooting 50 percent from deep, but has only taken six shots from behind the arc this year. LeXander and Bowser both get extremely short run and neither is counted on for a ton of offense. Both are rebounders first, though Bowser shoots above 50 percent from the floor when he gets a chance.

The Buccaneers have a few intriguing bench pieces. Sophomore Travis Anderson shoots better than 42 percent from three-point land. He hasn’t been the most efficient player from closer range, but he takes care of the ball and may be the Bucs best playmaker off the pine (23.2 assist rate). Juniors Ty Jones, Sean Price and Deontaye Buskey all eat about half of their available minutes and could be described as capable rebounders and willing shooters.

When Missouri has the ball...

Missouri Offense vs. Charleston Southern Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Missouri 103.5 (95) 17.6 (219) 49.5 (152) 20.9 (246) 25.4 (234) 33.5 (139) 27.1 (317) 55.5 (34) 75 (53) 6.2 (51) 8.1 (92)
Charleston Southern 103.3 (263) 16.2 (42) 56.7 (329) 22 (75) 36.4 (341) 25 (62) 33.6 (200) 59.9 (341) 72.5 (256) 5 (319) 8.8 (198)
NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Missouri
Jeremiah Tilmon struggled in KC, but has torched lesser opponents so far in 2019.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Can Missouri impose its will down low?

We’ve seen Jeremiah Tilmon bully weaker opponents into submission this year, and the Buccaneers shouldn’t put up too much of a fight — they’re not exactly dominant rebounders or defenders down low. We could wait for the three-point shooting to improve until the sun explodes, but all the Tigers should need to break this game open is a strong outing from Tilmon and for the big guards to use their size advantage at the rim.

When Opponent has the ball...

Charleston Southern Offense vs. Missouri Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Charleston Southern 90.5 (323) 17.2 (170) 36.7 (352) 22.5 (302) 26.7 (211) 18.5 (345) 21.6 (351) 39.3 (344) 65.2 (286) 9.4 (204) 11.4 (314)
Missouri 89 (20) 17.8 (258) 43.1 (25) 21.8 (87) 23.3 (42) 30.2 (146) 27.8 (40) 44 (59) 72.8 (264) 10.3 (106) 9.7 (134)
Missouri v Xavier
Tray Jackson is one of five Tigers averaging more than four fouls per 40 minutes played.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

What to Watch | Stay out of foul trouble

When it comes to playing blood donors, there are always two things to keep an eye on: three-pointers and fouls. Missouri has done well at defending the former, and the Buccaneers aren’t prolific shooters in their own right. However, Missouri has a middling record of putting other teams on the line. If the Tigers can’t stay aggressive without getting overly physical, CSU will need a miracle shooting night to stay in the game.

KenPom predicts...

Missouri 75, Charleston Southern 53 | There’s not much to learn about Missouri from a game like this, especially if they’re doing what they need to do. More likely than not, we’ll see Cuonzo Martin continue to tighten up his rotations ahead of the trip to Philadelphia this weekend.