Well, that was different.
Watching shots go in the basket was certainly fun. Watching Torrence Watson make baskets was different and fun.
Let’s also acknowledge the obvious: there isn’t a lot to glean from drubbing a team ranked 351st out of 353 in Division I. Chicago State is a program without a lot to hang its hat on. They have a penchant for not winning many games, and the games they do win are mostly non-Division I teams. They beat just one D1 squad last season, have one D1 win this season, and probably won’t be netting too many more the rest of the year.
So, yes, we know Chicago State isn’t a stiff challenge. That being said, this game ended up offering us some things we have been waiting to see.
I won’t spend too much time here because we also need to do a non-con study hall. So let’s dive in...
- Hey, Missouri shot the ball really well. Anytime you win by 58 points, the shooting numbers will look good, but the Tigers posted a 66.9 effective-field-goal percentage and a 69.3 true-shooting percentage. (Nice.) What powered those numbers, though, is important. MU shot 54.8 percent from 3-point range, which is a season-high. And a fair number of those were unguarded looks. Entering the night, Martin’s bunch was 349th nationally in knocking down open jumpers, per Synergy. In other words, the Tigers finally started draining quality looks created by the offense. If that continues, it’ll be a coveted boost for the offense. We certainly hope this is a breakthrough and not an outlier.
- Cuonzo Martin will be happy. Missouri dominated the glass, finishing with a plus-10 rebounding margin when the expected one was plus-3.5. Pretty good. And it came without Jeremiah Tilmon playing a minute.
- You can always deal with fewer turnovers. Mizzou’s hot shooting made it not matter. Still, we’ve said trimming a couple of turnovers a night — and making a couple more 3s — will steadily improve their efficiency. MU did that Monday and then some.
Your Trifecta: Dru Smith, Torrence Watson, Mark Smith
As impressive as Dru Smith was (and he was excellent at an insane at plus-46 in just 24 minutes), this game was about Watson. The sophomore finally found his shooting stroke, including a 3-ball to close the first half and a 6-of-8 run in the second half. You could sense the relief from him and his teammates as each jumper splashed down. Watson’s been solid defensively, but his off-target shooting stroke and hesitancy to drive the ball made him a missing piece on offense.
I don’t know if this is a turning point or a blip, needed to find a path toward renewed confidence shooting the ball. Last season, it was crucial down the stretch and made defenses pay the price if they try to shrink the floor or harass Tilmon on the block. And making eight 3s, setting a Mizzou Arena record in the process, is undoubtedly one way to break out of a slump.
I want to point out Kobe Brown. Yes, Brown has struggled to shoot the ball and still turns it over a tad too much. However, the freshman was flying around the court, getting his hands into passing lanes to create deflections, and steals. He was protecting the rim and getting on the glass. He nearly made the trifecta by being good at everything but shooting and ball-handling.
There were nine players with a floor percentage of over 40.0.
Also, anyone regularly tasked with handling the ball finished with a turnover rate under 10 percent.
It was also a good opportunity to get some guys like Mario McKinney Jr. and Tray Jackson some run. We got to see the enticing athleticism of McKinney on full display. And while Jackson still looks like he’s thinking too much, he played through multiple mistakes, which is how progress is made.
ROTATIONS | If you were a starter tonight, you staked yourself to a decent scoring margin at your position. There was some nice balance and diversity at the wing and combo forward spot. Haven't seen that in a while for #Mizzou. pic.twitter.com/leVv6rDm2j— Matt Harris (@MattJHarris85) December 31, 2019
So, if you’re MU, you go what you wanted from this game: extended minutes for young players and outside shots started to drop. Just in time for a trip to Rupp Arena.