Regression to the mean is often used to describe something that starts hot and fizzles back to Earth. Where you are at the end of the year determines how the rest of the season went, and as uneven as this season has been for Missouri, there’s still a lot left to play, and hopefully more regression... to the mean.
Before things started this year, we pegged Missouri as a good shooting team, but one that might take a step back with the loss of Jordan Geist, a good shooter, taking a fair amount of shots. What transpired over the first two months wasn’t what we expected from this team, and they were nearly disastrously worse than expected.
Surely something, sometime, at some point during the season things would get better.
Against Florida, Missouri had a big long rush towards the mean.
There’s no way you would believe the above tweet having watched the first few months, but here we are. Small sample sizes.
- For all the talk about faster play and pressing tempo: Missouri basically played as fast as they have all year. 67 possessions is exactly their average. As I said yesterday:
It was how those possessions were played that made the difference. Mizzou was in attack mode early and often. Even the few rare transition opportunities in the early going set the tone. Just by starting the attack early, the energy within the half court offense had more snap.
- None of these offensive stats are what you might consider sustainable over the season: I’m not saying they couldn’t replicate this performance again, but you aren’t going to expect this kind of shooting and scoring against SEC defenses regularly. We know this. But confidence is a funny thing and seeing the ball go through the hoop as often as it did against a (former) top 40 defense is something you want to build on. For as much as we’ve talked about guys and their ability, there haven’t been many nights when everyone is hitting the way they’re capable. Missouri doesn’t need 91 points and 73.1% effective FG shooting every night. You just hope they use this performance to build on something more sustainable.
- Losing the rebounding battle: can probably be summed up by making too many shots. That’s what I’m going with. But UF’s offensive rebound percentage was awfully high, and Missouri really did struggle to keep them off the glass.
I have to imagine that as good as things went on the offensive side of the ball, Cuonzo will be pointing to Missouri’s defensive struggles in conference play. They’ve given up 71, 69, and 75 points since joining conference play, currently ranked 11th in conference in Defensive Efficiency and a lot of it comes down to a Defensive FTA/FGA rate of 55.2%. Their opponent 3FG% is nearly 40%. Those are both marks to keep an eye on in hopes of the Tigers getting their defensive PPP under control.
But hey, a clear BCI win is good, and only a 16% turnover rate with it.
Your Trifecta: Dru Smith, Javon Pickett, Kobe Brown
On the season: Dru Smith 23 points, Mark Smith 19 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 15 points, Javon Pickett 12 points, Kobe Brown 7 points, Mitchell Smith 6 points, Xavier Pinson 5 points, Torrence Watson 3 points, Tray Jackson 2 points, Reed Nikko 1 point
First of all, Dru Smith was awesome. He continues to live up to everything we’d heard about him in the offseason. But you know it was an amazing offensive game on the floor when virtually everyone who played saw their Offensive Rating cap 100, and really only Reed Nikko and Mark Smith were sniffing 100, everyone else was WAY over.
Seven players with a Floor% over 40%, including Javon Pickett who was at 75%. Overall most of these offensive numbers are just nearly comical. Xavier Pinson had the highest usage rate, and a 53% floor percentage, and Dru Smith with a 24% usage and a 59% Floor%. Missouri was getting the shots they wanted on nearly every possession from the word go.
They scored on their first possession, then several minutes went by, and things were looking normal until Dru Smith hit a rolling Reed Nikko for a dunk with about 13 minutes to play. From there, Missouri scored 40 points in just 13 minutes of play, and even though Florida was making shots, the Tigers were outpacing them. I counted and Missouri had 6 missed shots over those 13 minutes, and just one turnover.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen the best version of Missouri
The only question becomes what exactly is “median” Missouri?
A lot has been made about Mizzou finding their footing without Jeremiah Tilmon on the floor, and I think it’s already been overstated how much the offense is dependent upon Tilmon. Maybe it was implied by the coaching staff, but Missouri wasn’t sluggish offensively because they were force-feeding Tilmon. Missouri was sluggish offensively because they weren’t making open shots. Missing as many open shots as the Tigers missed led to them pressing the issue via other shots. And that’s a tough spot to be in.
Mizzou had just 3 post ups against Florida, per Synergy. They had 17 spot up jump shots. Kind of circling back to the beginning, Missouri’s ability to make jump shots moved them from a ‘Poor’ rating on Synergy before conference play to an ‘Average’ Rating. For the offense to work, they need to be a threat to knock down unguarded jump shots and that’s finally started to happen with more regularity.
So how much can they carry this over into the next week? Things are about to get interesting with a couple tough road games. Missouri is a 3-point underdog to each of their opponents, at Mississippi State on Tuesday, and at Alabama on Saturday. I think if you can split these two games you’d have to feel pretty good compared to where we were going into the Florida game.