Whenever your program is in need of a win, just schedule a Rally for Rhyan game! Raise some money for charity, get a win... like clockwork.
For as much as I wanted it to be for the purpose it served, this wasn’t a well played game. Neither team played well, they fouled a lot, when they didn’t foul the officials still called one. But Missouri was able to take advantage of their strengths over the Razorbacks, who were smaller, and had little depth especially with Isaiah Joe out after surgery on his knee.
So facing a team with less depth than their own, the path to a win seemed somewhat clear: own the glass, attack the rim, and find a way to keep Mason Jones from completely going off and you’ve got a chance. How’d they do?
- Mizzou started out in the earlygoing really setting the tone on the glass. The Tigers had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, en route toward nabbing 40% of their misses. When you can’t shoot, getting second chances will help the overall efficiency and it completely worked against Arkansas. The Tigers ended up +5.6 on the glass.
- Three point shots haven’t been falling, so when you're again playing a game without your top shooter in Mark Smith, how do you generate points? Well, attack the rim, of course! Arkansas lacks a true rim protector, so spreading them out creates easy attacking lanes. The added benefit to the attack is, with happy whistles, the Tigers got their opponent in foul trouble early and ended up getting four players disqualified. So while Arkansas had a 63% FTA/FGA, Mizzou’s was 73%. That was enough.
- Mason Jones didn’t go crazy: His overall line was 17 points, but just 3/14 from the floor and 0/6 from 3. That means he did get to the line 14 times, which is a lot. But he fouled out early in Overtime and was basically a non-factor.
Neither team was good offensively, but getting to the line five more times while making six more of your shots was all they needed.
Your Trifecta: Xavier Pinson, Mitchell Smith, Reed Nikko
On the season: Dru Smith 31 points, Mark Smith 23 points, Javon Pickett 15 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 15 points, Kobe Brown 15 points, Mitchell Smith 13 points, Xavier Pinson 11 points, Torrence Watson 6 points, Reed Nikko 6 points, Tray Jackson 3 points, Parker Braun 1 point, Axel Okongo 1 point
We got a good Xavier Pinson game at a good time. This is game where X can thrive, little rim protection and not much size on the defense... then you add in Mizzou’s early success on the offensive boards, Arkansas’ made efforts to seal off the Tigers post players as the game wore on and that made the driving lanes a bit bigger. Pinson still wasn’t that efficient when you consider he was 3-11 from 2FG. But this is a game where you see the enticing potential, his ability to slither into the lane. But he’s still too slight to finish consistently, otherwise he’d have had about 36 points and Missouri would’ve won by 12-15 in regulation.
But five players in double digits in GameScore, and one (Dru Smith) just missing out, is certainly a good way for the Tigers to find victories going forward. If you’ve got six players being consistent, and you add in Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith... this is a team that might be able to make some noise.
Now finding that consistency? That’s been the problem.
With the Hogs lacking any kind of interior threat (outside of Reggie Chaney), Missouri was able to get in with Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith. But even their efficiency in scoring wasn’t great. Pinson’s usage was solid but just a tick of 41% from the floor, and only Mitchell Smith was on the only other guy above 40.
The outlier here is Tray Jackson.
I feel pretty good about being in front on the Jackson hype. And you saw on Saturday why it’s so real. He still makes mental errors from time to time. He was left holding the ball with the shot clock expiring — though I’m willing to give him a pass on that because he shouldn’t really be the target of a pass with under 2 seconds on the clock — and he was inserted into the game in the first half and promptly gave up an offensive rebound. But Jackson has an exciting ability few players on the roster have: he can put the ball in the basket.
With Kobe Brown marred in a bit of a slump, Jackson should get the minutes he needs to see through a few of his inconsistencies. I’ll keep saying it until it actually starts happening.
How sustainable was this win?
Well, for one, I don’t think it’ll travel to Baton Rouge. Mizzou’s next opponent, the LSU Tigers, have similar depth issues as the Razorbacks but they’ve got their best players available. They rely on a senior guard in Skylar Mays who’s having a great year, and have three other five star guys carrying the load. They’re on a two game losing streak with an embarrassing road loss to Vanderbilt, and they coughed up a late lead and lost at Auburn. I’m guessing they’ll be ready for a reset against Missouri.
For this to work on the road the Tigers are going to have to make more shots from the field. 45% from 2, and 19% from 3 isn’t going to win much the rest of the way.