The “hot” streak continues!
Missouri, after going on the road and stealing a win in a hostile environment like the Vanderbilt Memorial Gym, has now won four of their last six games and are sitting at 6-9 in conference play with two remaining games at home (with both on Saturdays!).
These are all good things of course. If you’re a realist like me you might also want to note Missouri barely budged in KenPom, nudging up to 103 after the game. So while there is clear progress being made in the win column the Tigers are having a hard time climbing in the analytics. Considering they were a 1-point favorite going in, you’d think a 9 point win might give them the necessary bump to climb out of the 100s and into the 90s but nope.
Still, a win is a win and Missouri is still clinging to the 10th spot in the SEC and NOT playing on Wednesday night. They won their first true road game since beating Temple in early December, and their first SEC road game since beating Georgia last year.
- A recipe for a road loss is: Turnovers, Poor outside shooting, and getting outshot from the FT line. Fortunately for Missouri they only lost the FT line +/- by 3 points despite taking FOURTEEN less shots from the line. Vanderbilt was awful from the FT line. Missouri is the 2nd best SEC team at the Free Throw line and they capitalized last night.
- Vanderbilt made very little effort to go to the glass: which allowed Missouri to own the glass in a big way. Missouri was +15 overall, and despite not getting a bunch of offensive rebounds of their own they still eliminated the Commodores from the glass.
- Because of the rebounding: Mizzou held a +7 advantage in shot attempts. They were only a tick better in shooting percentage, but those 7 additional shots were the margin of difference. Both teams were 1.16-ish for PPS so getting MORE shots is good! And doing that on five less possessions... not bad. You take it.
All told, Missouri was able to do what they needed. Despite some rusty offensive numbers they got the win, got Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon some minutes and avoided disaster.
Your Trifecta: Reed Nikko, Mitchell Smith, Xavier Pinson
On the season: Dru Smith 39 points, Mark Smith 23 points, Xavier Pinson 21 points, Kobe Brown 19 points, Javon Pickett 15 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 15 points, Mitchell Smith 15 points, Reed Nikko 11 points, Torrence Watson 6 points, Tray Jackson 3 points, Parker Braun 2 points, Axel Okongo 1 point
So for one... How about Reed Nikko?
Cuonzo shares this: Reed Nikko was nearly a pregame scratch with a back injury. He hasn't practiced this week. Came through with 10 points, didn't miss a shot from the field or the FT line.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) February 27, 2020
Reed of course netted 14 points, he was a perfect 5-5 from the floor and apparently did so on a sore back. Well done! But one of my favorite things about Nikko is his biggest fan... Jeremiah Tilmon. Every time Nikko made a play, Tilmon was the first off the bench cheering on his friend.
Mitchell Smith got into the trifecta by rebounding. I feel at some point we’re going to have some level of Mitchell love... he’s really not a good offensive player but he does so many other things for this team. The term “glue guy” gets thrown around a lot but Mitch really is that for this team. He defends his butt off, rebounds, takes charges, and he clearly a key to an important road win. Good job Mitch.
But the key to this teams success comes down to their ability to score the basketball. Xavier Pinson fell short of a 100 offensive rating thanks to four turnovers, but there’s no question he was vital to the Tigers getting an sustaining their lead. He hit the all-important 40% mark from the floor, but early in the second half Pinson turned a one point deficit into a four point lead with a 3-pointer and a slicing layup in the half court offense. Pinson’s 15 second half points helped seal away the win.
- It was good to see both Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon back in action. Tilmon looked healthy and nearly springy going up and down the floor. Both had elements of rust but they were a combined 3-5 from the floor for 7 points, three rebounds in 23 minutes of combined action.
- As an aside, I feel bad for Torrence Watson landing a negative game score. It’s basically because he missed his one shot attempt and didn’t land another stat. But he was really good defensively. In the first half with Pinson in foul trouble Watson played minutes on Saben Lee which allowed Cuonzo Martin to put Dru Smith on the hot shooting Scottie Pippen, Jr. That move alone kept Missouri in the game when the offense stalled out.
6-9 in SEC play with a big home game coming up
Mississippi State is coming to town on Saturday where Mizzou has won four in a row and are only a projected loss on KenPom by a point. The Bulldogs are fighting to crawl back onto the top side of the bubble and a loss to Missouri might put them out of the running all together. After Mizzou got blasted on the road at Starkville which summarily sent them on downward spiral which nearly cost them the season.
Mizzou pre-Starkville wasn’t great, but they were 9-6 and top 60 in KenPom. After Starkville they’re 5-8 and in triple digits in KenPom. And that includes wins in four of the last six and three of the last four.
Beat MSU and you can at least recover some of what was lost during the initial seven games coming off that loss. Plus you can clip a team trying to make the tournament. Let’s do it and keep this new “win” train rolling.
Here are the rest of the results from the early week SEC action:
- Kentucky 69, Texas A&M 60
- Auburn 67, Ole Miss 58
- Florida 81, LSU 66
- Mississippi State 80, Alabama 73
- South Carolina 94, Georgia 90
- Arkansas 86, Tennessee 69
And the standings:
- Kentucky 13-2
- Auburn 11-4
- Florida 10-5
- LSU 10-5
- Mississippi State 9-6
- South Carolina 9-6
- Texas A&M 8-7
- Alabama 7-8
- Tennessee 7-8
- Missouri 6-9
- Arkansas 6-9
- Ole Miss 4-11
- Georgia 4-11
- Vanderbilt 1-14