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Pourover: There’s still time!

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Cuonzo Martin and the Missouri Tigers looked like a different team against Utah, which is a quaint reminder that they still have time to right the ship. Whatever that might look like.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll likely do a full study hall tomorrow, but I wanted to take the a different approach here and keep the “Pourover” for the Sunday column intact, at least for now. Make this less about stats, and more about the “intangibles”.

Statistics are a great way to help you tell a story about a game, or a run, or a season. And those same statistics can tell you why Missouri has largely been a poor basketball team so far. Like they’re 354th in 3-point percentage, and 339th in the ‘non-steal turnover percentage list (basically unforced errors). So they don’t shoot the ball particularly well, they turn the ball over too often, and on top of that the defense has been leaky, giving up an effective field goal percentage over 52%. That’s a pretty poor recipe if you’re trying to win basketball games.

It’s always easy to overreact to singular results in college sports. But a bad basketball game is akin to a bad quarter of football. Or maybe a bad half. After watching Mizzou Football’s defense be atrocious for half the season, they managed to turn it around enough to get the Tigers bowl eligible, and even that was around midseason. So even after a disastrous 10 game start for the Mizzou Basketball team, the season isn’t over by a long shot.

Well, take that with a caveat. This team is mostly cooked. They aren’t going to make the NCAA tournament, and a top half finish in the league is almost assuredly out of the question. But while we were all pretty much ready to shovel dirt on the program and Cuonzo Martin as head coach, there was always a path to make this better. And better enough to warrant giving Martin and his group another crack at this next year.

The Football team is a prime example of that. There’s a middle ground where you can see the talent isn’t good enough, but they should have also been playing far better. And that’s the key here for Mizzou Hoops. The talent level isn’t good enough to win at a high level, but they’ve also not been playing well.

Utah is a perfectly mediocre college basketball team, playing without their best player in center Branden Carlson. Carlson is a 7’0 center with a top 50 level block rate and is a good and consistent rebounder. Missing him from the lineup changes the level at which the basketball game was played on both ends of the court. Missouri turned to youth early, and Kobe Brown late, and attacked and attacked and attacked on offense. Defensively they switched all five positions, and made Utah take tough and contested shots.

So while they still shot poorly, like usual, the aggressiveness with which they attacked the rim led to a boost in overall free throw attempts, and it also netted them 16 Offensive Rebounds. All while turning the ball over just 6 times. Creating more opportunities is exactly how this team can be more competitive. It’s not a complex recipe.

Don’t turn the ball over, get on the offensive glass, and play tough defense. Almost like Cuonzo Martin has a history of teams focusing on those things.

The pace they played with on offense helped as well. For the first time in a few games it felt like they were playing with the kind of energy and pace we’ve heard Martin talk about. Going from Utah to Illinois is a jump but it’s one the Tigers have scaled before. I don’t think Martin needs to completely get this thing going to save his job or his reputation, but they’ve got to start being more competitive. And beating a Utah team, even one missing it’s best player, is certainly a good start. Find the blueprint that works, and attack it relentlessly.

Here are your College GameDay scores:

Hoops!

  • 13. Auburn 74, Saint Louis 70
  • 6. Alabama 65, Jacksonville State 59
  • 19. LSU 66, Louisiana Tech 57
  • Hofstra 89, 24. Arkansas 81
  • Florida 66, South Florida 55
  • Clemson 70, South Carolina 56
  • Ole Miss 76, Dayton 68
  • George Mason 80, Georgia 67
  • Texas A&M 83, Oregon State 73
  • 21. Kentucky 98, North Carolina 69
  • 18. Tennessee vs Memphis (cancelled)

Football!

  • Western Kentucky 59, Appalachian State 38
  • UAB 31, BYU 28
  • Fresno State 31, UTEP 24
  • L*berty 56, Eastern Michigan 20
  • Utah State 24, Oregon State 13
  • Marshall Louisiana

Yesterday at Rock M

Nothing else happened yesterday related to Mizzou, nope... nothing

  • The Mizzou Women play Southern tomorrow. Braggin’ Rights is Wednesday at 8, the Armed Forces Bowl is at 7. Mizzou Wrestling has the Collegiate Duals tomorrow also.
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