If there’s any solace to take from Mizzou’s nearly complete collapse this year, it’s that nothing this college basketball season makes sense. When you think you’re starting to figure things out, everything gets turned on its head.
Hopefully for the Tigers, that can happen to them... again. Coming out of the non-conference season, the Tigers had slumped, but they were still making it work. With a trip to Starkville, Mizzou was bounced hard against the Bulldogs and have really only recovered for about 13 minutes against Georgia. And now Georgia is making their name as a team who blows big leads, getting out in front of Florida by 22 last night, only to lose by 6.
The way things are going, Missouri falling behind anyone — even the 270th rated offense — is going to be tough for them to make it up.
Sorry if these are getting less and less numbers-y, but the reality is Mizzou is playing bad basketball and there’s only so much numbers breakdown you can do on them. It’s not complicated why Mizzou is losing.
- The easy key to this game was rebounding: Missouri, with their coach who wants to own the glass, was absolutely dominated here. Texas A&M is a good offensive rebounding team, but Missouri gave up 55% on the Offensive Rebound Rate! That’s an insane number. In the first game the Aggies grabbed 29% of their shots. So grabbing 25% more of their shots meant they were able to create more opportunities and end up with an effective offense. And Emanuel Miller grabbed NINE of those rebounds himself.
- The next big advantage for A&M was at the line, Free throw rate for the Aggies was +30%. Mizzou fouled 32 times, sending Texas A&M to the line 37 times. When you’re struggling offensively, and Missouri is just like A&M is, getting to the line can relieve some of the pressure.
For Mizzou to be so even everywhere else, but so overwhelmingly owned in these two categories... it’s a little startling. Particularly because they got the kind of shooting performance you can expect from Texas A&M. But getting crushed on the glass and sending an offensively challenged team to the free throw line nearly 40 times... on the road that’s a good way to get run out of the gym.
Your Trifecta: Mitchell Smith, Dru Smith, Kobe Brown
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 11 points, Xavier Pinson 8 points, Reed Nikko 4 points, Torrence Watson 6 points, Tray Jackson 3 points, Parker Braun 1 point, Axel Okongo 1 point
I’m going to go back to a previous point about the trifecta and who is playing well. I think it’s fair to give credit to Mitchell Smith for his fight, but your trifecta winner simply can’t shoot 2 for 5 from the floor and not crack 10 points.
How Dru Smith managed to have 7 assists on 15 made shots is beyond me. The fact Missouri only made 15 shots is a whole other topic, but Smith wasn’t good offensively and still cracked the top 3 thanks to assisting on nearly half of the made shots.
While it was nice to have Jeremiah Tilmon back, the rust was going to be a factor, as well as the conditioning. It felt like he put together a solid 12 minutes though.
Minutes played: Evan Yerkes 9, Tray Jackson 4
It’s clear they’re trying to impart something on Jackson, and when he entered the game he did not look ready to play. He was giving up rebounds and missing assignments... so basically he sat the rest of the game, which is puzzling. Particularly when you need scoring.
Things are what they are this season. To call it disappointing is a huge understatement.
Early February last year Mizzou was sitting at 11-11 and coming off a home loss to Texas A&M, they’d slumped into the 90s in KenPom and the season looked lost. The Tigers found a way to beat Arkansas, but stayed about what they were until they were 12-15 and 94th in KenPom before a short recovery at the end of the year to make things look better.
Maybe the recovery at the end of the year, where Mizzou climbed from 94th to 68th instilled more of a sense of confidence in the returning production than we should have had. Maybe without Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith, Mizzou is closer to a 90th rated KP team than the top 50 level we were hoping to see this year as a sign of progress.
I’m not ready to do an obituary on the season. But as I said on twitter the other night:
I’m not going to say a lot here, because I’ve got a post to write, but this program needs a reset in a big way.— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) February 5, 2020
The 2017-18 season was an interesting one. Mizzou took its shot and it was fun for a bit, but the novelty of the Porter experiment has worn off and we’re left with a bigger rebuild than we expected, with a roster of players not adequate enough to sustain the loss of their top guys.
Resetting the program doesn’t mean starting from scratch. But they need more than what they have right now. And I think it extends to all corners of the program.