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When it rains it pours; Missouri’s struggles from behind the arc continue against Alabama

The Tigers shot 10.7% from behind the arc against the Crimson Tide, which was just the latest cold shooting performance for Dennis Gates’ bunch.

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

From the opening weeks of the season, we knew what the identity of this Missouri basketball team would be. Dennis Gates’ 2022-23 Tigers would be an undersized group that forced turnovers, got out in transition and shot plenty of threes.

In the early months of the season, that system worked like a charm in nearly every game.

However, Mizzou has lost three of their last four contests. There is a marked difference in this team’s play pre-Vanderbilt vs. post-Vanderbilt.

While they have continued to pressure opponents on defense and push the ball on offense, the third part of their “identity” has been missing. In their first fifteen games, the Tigers shot 25% or worse from behind the arc twice. In their last four games, they have been under that mark every time.

The 85-64 defeat at the hands of Alabama put a cherry on top of the recent struggles. The Tigers shot an ice-cold 3-for-28 from three-point land in the game, and at times they appeared to just be attempting to shoot themselves out of their recent slump.

“We were fortunate they couldn’t make a three tonight,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “That really helped our defense.”

It’s not rocket science. This is a team that features plenty of quality shooters, spreads the floor and has a coach that encourages his team to play to their strengths. When three-point shots are falling, life is good. When they aren’t, this team struggles to win games. The age-old cliché of “live and die by the three” rings true with this team.

By no means is that a negative attribute. Many upsets have been pulled thanks to the three-pointer, otherwise known as the greatest equalizer in the sport. We especially see this come in to play during March Madness, when plenty of 3-point specialists catch fire and carry their team on a run. (Looking at you guys, Mr. Curry, Mr. Hield and Mr. Napier, to name a few)

To get to that point, however, Missouri has to regain their rhythm.

Gates explained that he believes D’Moi Hodge has been “rattle-snaking” his shot earlier this week. Essentially, he implies that Hodge attempts to get his shot off too quick, not following through properly and thus changing the trajectory and aim of the ball. This habit may have come as a result of teams really cracking down on him as a shooter, as he rarely sees an open look anymore and is faced with mainly catch-and-shoot scenarios in which he has a hand in his face.

Whatever it may be, Hodge’s biggest task is finding his rhythm again. After shooting over 40% from three in nine of the team’s first fifteen games, he has yet to shoot over 20% in the team’s past four contests. Hodge showed his potential to be an offensive spark at the beginning of the season, catching fire in multiple games. He was tough to contain thanks to his smooth stroke and never-ending movement on the floor. For this team to be successful, they need Hodge to regain that swagger.

Noah Carter joined Hodge as a threat from behind the arc to start the season. Highlighted by a 6-for-9 performance against Penn, Carter figured to be a guy that could draw opposing big men out of the paint. However, he shot 1-for-7 from three against TAMU, 0-for-3 against Florida, didn’t play against Arkansas, and then went 0-for-1 against Alabama.

Nick Honor was another efficient three-point shooter on this team. Like Hodge, Honor shot 40% or better in nine of the team’s first fifteen games. In Missouri’s last four games, he is 2-for-12 from behind the arc.

At the end of the day, shooting in basketball is never a given. Teams will go through shooting slumps, and then at other points it will seem like they can not miss. Such is the sport of basketball.

Maybe the return of Isiaih Mosley can add another weapon to the perimeter shooting arsenal. He has really struggled from behind the arc thus far (0-for-12), but many of his shots have rimmed out. Just a season ago, Mosley shot 42.7% from three. As he continues to shake off the rust of not playing for over a month, his shot should return as well.

The question Missouri fans are wondering right now is: When this team finds their shooting groove again, will it be too late?