I want to preface all of this with one thing: Georgia is a bad basketball team.
Nicolas Claxton is a good player, and so is Rayshaun Hammonds, who went down late in the season with a foot injury. The rest of the Bulldogs roster, though, leaves a lot to be desired. And then there’s the reality that it’s a group tailored to Mark Fox’s style, not the free-flowing, up-tempo system preferred by Tom Crean.
Put it all together, and you have a team that is just lousy.
So, if you’re going to come out and not play your best game, it’s probably best to do so against a team like Georgia. Your margin for error improves when you can get Claxton into foul trouble. A career night from Jordan Geist is also a perk.
Geist was unreal for Mizzou, throwing up a 133.0 offensive rating and 30 points to offset a roster that was struggling as a whole. But that’s kind of been the M.O. of Geist all season. If there’s a hole for MU, the senior will slide in and plug it. He’s found a way to be everything this Tigers team has needed this year — and they’ve needed a lot. So it was good to see him have this kind of game.
- It shouldn’t surprise you that the game was ugly: Missouri has found some rhythm late in the season offensively, but that relied mainly upon Torrence Watson hitting shots. The freshman didn’t do that last night. Neither team shot well from deep, and if you subtract Geist, Xavier Pinson and Georgia’s Jordan Harris from the equation, the teams combined to shot 4.5 percent from long range. Read that again. Four. Point. Five. Percent. And Pinson, Geist, Harris only combined to make six 3s. The rest of both rosters made one of 22 attempts. Woof, I’m glad that game is over.
- The Tigers have largely been dominating the glass: However, the struggled to gather offensive rebounds. Part of it was the Tigers weren’t attempting long jumpers, but an expected margin of plus-1.4 and a raw difference of plus-3 is vastly underselling where the Tigers have been coming from when it comes to rebounding lately.
After kicking the crap out of Georgia a week ago in Athens, there was likely to be some more push back this time around. But the biggest issue is Mizzou just didn’t knock down open shots they’ve made over the last three weeks, which seemed to give us more hope. They struggled around the rim again, with Tilmon finishing just 1-of-7. Meanwhile, Pickett and Watson didn’t make a shot from the field, and the Tigers were fortunate to have Geist and some extra offense from Pinson.
Your Trifecta: Jordan Geist, Xavier Pinson, Mitchell Smith
On the season: Jordan Geist 57 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 30 points, Mark Smith 25 points, Javon Pickett 19 points, Xavier Pinson 16 points, Kevin Puryear 14 points, Torrence Watson 13 points, Ronnie Suggs 3 points, Reed Nikko 4 points, Mitchell Smith 1 point, K.J. Santos 1 point.
Hey, MITCH made his first trifecta, everyone!
Noooooot a great night offensively.
I already talked about Geist. Pinson continues to excel with his opportunities. But I want to take a moment and ask people to watch how Pinson gets his points. How often does it come within the structure of MU’s offense? Last night, he missed swinging the ball to open shooters, and in a ball-screen, he failed to take his man into the screen set by K.J. Santos, earning the redshirt sophomore an illegal screen call. I get everyone’s excitement, and I think his ability to score is a huge unexpected bonus, but in the areas you want a point guard to be he’s still behind. Learning how to use screens and handoffs — and making reads out of those actions — are near the top of the list. He also struggles at times defensively, but he is playing with effort and energy on that end — a crucial first step to improving. Still, his recent offensive spurt is going to give him confidence and momentum heading into an important offseason.
Pickett had a rough night, but it’s probably to be expected. The freshman’s been fighting a sore back and trending downward as the minutes and season wore on. His counterpart in Watson had been on a tear — until last night. Watson didn’t make a shot from the floor for the first time since the Tigers’ meltdown against LSU. The difference is he played 36 minutes last night. It’s an indicator of how Martin’s trust has grown to reach the same level as crucial cogs in Geist and Pickett.
Mizzou can’t afford to have as many missing pieces have off nights when they face the Auburn Tigers. Need I remind you the last time these two teams met, it wasn’t a good night. The 34-point loss was the worst of the Martin tenure. I certainly don’t expect Mizzou to lose by that margin again, but Auburn is a daunting match-up for this Tiger team. They’ve got the depth and bodies to roll out and make life difficult on Geist while forcing tempo and popping threes at a clip which makes keeping up a tall task.
There may only be one more game for the Mizzou basketball team this season, but we’ve learned a lot. And if they’re able to continue for one more night past tomorrow, we’ll take it. But at this point, we’ve learned enough about them to know what to say and what to takeaway from each game. There hasn’t been a lot of new insights over the last few weeks. We understand the best version of the Tigers, and that version is capable of beating Auburn. In fact, the odds are about 24 percent, according to KenPom.
Tonight I’ll either be writing another Study Hall or writing a season-ending piece. Either way, it’s been a really interesting year where we’ve learned about the fight you can expect from this team in even their darkest of seasons.