As the clock ticked down and the Tigers refused to go quietly, finding ways to sink 3-pointer after 3-pointer, and finding a way to threaten the heavy favorited Auburn Tigers. After getting down 10 after the first six minutes of the second half, the Tigers went on a 13-3 run over the next three minutes to tie it at 52.
But good fortune didn’t seem to favor Missouri on this day. On the ensuing possession Horace Spencer converted a jump shot and the foul shot after a Mitchell Smith foul. Two more three-pointers from Auburn extended the lead back out to nine and Mizzou was never able to get back over the hump.
They cut it to four, and again nibbled it down to five. The Tigers were able to convert offensive opportunities but never able to get a stop when they needed one down the stretch. In particular Jared Harpers only made basket with 3:12 to play, and Bryce Brown’s three with 1:36 to play.
In a lot of ways this game was a metaphor for the season. Close to good, but not quite there yet.
- Mizzou won the pace battle: in Auburn Arena the pace was over 70 and yesterday Mizzou held it to 64. Auburns PPP and PPS were virtually the same as they were in Auburn Arena (1.26 and 1.33) but with the decreased pace Mizzou was able to set their own tone a little more offensively and execute in the half court. As evidenced by their 0.30 increase from the last go around.
- The difference between the 2FG and 3FG shooting, well: that leaves a little to be desired. Mizzou’s hot shooting from the outside suspended the complete inability to get anything going on the inside. Jeremiah Tilmon was 4-5 from inside the arc, the rest of the team was just 4-17 and I think I remember each of those. One from Pinson, Puryear, two from Geist. Blah.
- Here’s something new: Mizzou went up against a team that forces a lot of turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over (if you simply subtract Xavier Pinson’s day). I don’t mean to bag on Pinson who’s been pretty good from a turnover standpoint down the stretch but WOW is eight a lot of turnovers.
Mizzou has dominated the glass but doing so against Auburn is difficult to accomplish. They attempt a lot of three’s which forces long rebounds, and they’re athletic as hell and are more capable of chasing down long rebounds. The raw split was just -1 so all in all not too terrible.
Your Trifecta: Jordan Geist, Torrence Watson, Mitchell Smith
On the season: Jordan Geist 60 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 30 points, Mark Smith 25 points, Javon Pickett 19 points, Xavier Pinson 16 points, Kevin Puryear 14 points, Torrence Watson 15 points, Ronnie Suggs 3 points, Reed Nikko 4 points, Mitchell Smith 2 points, K.J. Santos 1 point.
Since we glossed over Mitchell Smith making the trifecta yesterday I thought it would be good to give him a little love here. Smith, in this version of his role, has excelled the last few games. There are some obvious holes in his game but I think if you’re looking for supplemental minutes at the four spot next year it looks like Mitch has the ability to carve out a role. You don’t need to ask him to do a lot and maybe less than 27 minutes is better, but it’s still hard to argue he hasn’t brought some solid contributions down the stretch.
Torrence Watson’s confidence recently has been just really fun to watch. When he’s hitting step back threes on Bryce Brown from 23 feet it makes you realize a lineup that involves Watson and Mark Smith next season is one that is going to create a lot of space. Space is good.
I’m not going to read too much into the descent of Javon Pickett. He was bad since sitting out with a back injury and hasn’t actually played well since Florida. The season is long and he was dealing with a back ailment, which is tough to play with. Get to the offseason, get healthy and get stronger for next season.
There’s been a lot of attention paid to Jordan Geist, and sometimes it still feels like it’s not enough. I’m sure Jordan would have preferred to been more of a rotational piece on a tournament team and one winning or at least competing for conference championships. But that wasn’t in the cards this season and he adapted. He adapted into a reliable scoring option on a team devoid of scoring options. He’s been a leader on a team in need of leaders, and he saved his best for last. 30 points against Georgia, 25 against Auburn, an Offensive Rating of 133, or 1.33 ppp. Geist was exceptional.
This being the last single game study hall of the season, I’m going to try to keep this about the game itself. Missouri replayed the game against the team responsible for the worst beating in the Cuonzo Martin era and cut the point differential by 24 points. All of this while leading up to the game and the experts (me included because I’m expert-y) talked about how bad of a matchup this is for this Tigers team.
Martin doesn’t want a pat on the back for a job well done when he’s paid to win games, and Mizzou only won 15 this year. But 15 is right about what they were expected to win the roster he had. Beating a team like Auburn was always going to be a long shot... for now. The way Martin is working and shaping this program you have to think those wins are going to come sooner than later. We do have to wait until November for it to start happening though.