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Study Hall: Mizzou 85, Auburn 73

Getting the best version of Xavier Pinson is something which helps you win games.

study hall 2020


Perfect? No. But in the course of this season you’ll take an imperfect win over the 11th ranked team in the country in front of 12,000 people I’d think.

It has taken some time, but over the course of the last three games, Missouri has started to figure something out. They’ve played 222 possessions and have scored 246 points for an average of 1.108 points per possession since leaving the debacle of the butt kicking in College Station.

Against Arkansas, a team already lacking depth and size plus down one of their top scorers, it makes sense Missouri was able to recover. Going on the road to LSU, a team who had been riding the line for a while and one who didn’t specifically care about defending all that hard, it made sense that Missouri would surprise them and take them to the wire.

And even with Auburn, missing Isaac Okoro and having won three overtime games in a row, a dip seemed possible. But it was still refreshing to see Missouri come out and execute their game plan and beat a ranked opponent by double digits. Let’s see how it happened:

Team Stats!

study hall 2020 auburn
  • I’m not exactly sure how you can give up a 1.02 FTA/FGA, PLUS (!!!) a 71.4% 2FG and still win. Until you look at the 3-point shooting. I don’t think saying Mizzou shot great from three, they shot well, but they also only attempted 13 shots from behind the arc. Too often College Basketball comes down to “Did you make your three point shots?” and last night Missouri did, while Auburn didn’t. They were good enough elsewhere to make Mizzou sweat a little bit.
  • Mizzou is a team who turns the ball over a lot: in fact they’re currently (post-Auburn) 299th in turnover rate in the country. So having just 8 against an athletic team who defends pretty good is a step in the right direction. Here’s what’s better, at the 13:31 mark in the first half Mizzou took their first lead of the game. From there until there were 3 minutes to go in the game, (so basically 30 minutes of full game action) Mizzou had just three turnovers. In that time Mizzou was +15.
  • A minus 5.5 in expected rebounds is kind of funny: Auburn hits the offensive glass hard but c’mon guys. Most of this came down to Mizzou’s inability to fetch their own misses. A 15.4% ORB rate isn’t great.

It’s clear what the game plan was — put pressure on Auburn’s three point shooting and be willing to give up more around the basket. Offensively they did what they’ve done the last three games and attacked the tin. Missouri still fouls too much — and I know I’m supposed to insert something here about how bad the officiating was but — Missouri still fouls too much. Imagine if the Tigers wouldn’t put their opponent on the line approximately 50 times a game!

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Xavier Pinson, Dru Smith, Kobe Brown

study hall 2020 auburn

On the season: Dru Smith 36 points, Mark Smith 23 points, Kobe Brown 16 points, Javon Pickett 15 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 15 points, Xavier Pinson 15 points, Mitchell Smith 13 points, Reed Nikko 8 points, Torrence Watson 6 points, Tray Jackson 3 points, Parker Braun 1 point, Axel Okongo 1 point

Somebody finally passed Jeremiah Tilmon’s 15 points in the cumulative total! Congrats to Kobe Brown, hopefully for Brown this allows him to break out of the slump he’s been in over the last 6-7 games.

But this game was very much about Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson.

69 minutes, 56 points on 13-20 from 2FG, 4-6 from 3FG, 18-21 from the FT line, 5 rebounds, 7 assists. Pinson got a little turnover happy with five, but one of those was a charge and two were in the last 2:30, including one with 10 seconds to go when he stepped on the end line. X has played so well over the last three games he’s raised his season ORtg up to just a tick below his season last year.

More than anything, Pinson’s taking off has allowed Dru Smith to move off the ball more than he has all season.

study hall 2020 auburn

When your two highest usage guys (Pinson at 37%, Dru at 30%) have a Floor% just shy of (49%) or over (56%) fifty percent, you should have a pretty good offensive day. All told SEVEN Tigers had good offensive days with Mitchell Smith and Javon Pickett struggling a bit. But if you get good enough production from guys like Reed Nikko, Tray Jackson, Kobe Brown, and even (GASP) Torrence Watson and Parker Braun, you can have a couple of duds from Pickett and Smith.

Look at the turnover column. **insert heart eyes emoji**

Nikko is a a low usage guy with not a lot of touches. So him at 20% usually means he had one on probably five possessions. And sure enough... four shots, one turnover. His five possessions accounted for six points though.

Basically over the last three games Mizzou is getting what it needs from it’s most important rotational pieces.

Here’s the talking point we should take away from this, Mizzou season to date has been marred by inconsistent play.

I talked about it yesterday here. The game score from yesterday’s game was a 95, the Tigers 2nd highest in SEC play. But the good news here is they’ve halted the tragic skid and have a manageable slate the rest of the way.

With a home game against Ole Miss on Tuesday, Missouri could even their record overall at 13-13 and move to 5-8 in league play. The league win total would equal last years total. Not the progress we were hoping for going into the season, and probably not the progress which should have happened, but progress nonetheless.

Now at 4-8 in league play Missouri is on equal footing with Arkansas and Ole Miss, and a full 2 game lead on Georgia. The goal at this point should be to get off the Wednesday play in game in the SEC tournament.

Here are the rest of the results from yesterdays SEC action:

  • Kentucky 67, Ole Miss 62
  • Alabama 88, LSU 82
  • Florida 84, Vanderbilt 66
  • South Carolina 63, Tennessee 61
  • Mississippi State 78, Arkansas 77
  • Texas A&M 74, Georgia 69

And the standings:

  1. Kentucky 10-2
  2. Auburn 9-3
  3. LSU 9-3
  4. Florida 8-4
  5. South Carolina 8-4
  6. Mississippi State 7-5
  7. Alabama 6-6
  8. Tennessee 6-6
  9. Texas A&M 6-6
  10. Arkansas 4-8
  11. Ole Miss 4-8
  12. Missouri 4-8
  13. Georgia 2-10
  14. Vanderbilt 1-11