First things first, Officiating throughout college basketball (and as evident by the football games last night, pretty much everywhere) is pretty terrible, and that's being kind. When you go on the road, it gets even worse. Missouri fought the officials a little too much against Auburn, giving the other Tigers 37 attempts at the line. Missouri had 27 team fouls. That's a lot, but so many of those were on shooting attempts. As bad as the officiating was, Missouri had a lot of chances to move beyond it, and they failed.
Mizzou could have been good enough to overcome the officiating if they had exercised better patience and better shot selection. Not just that but their inability to defend a pretty pedestrian Auburn offense was a big problem. Very often the other Tigers found themselves shooting open three pointers, which is what led to them hitting a remarkable 52.6% of them. This is a team that averaged 67.1 points a contest coming in, and Mizzou gave them a lot of open looks early, and they ended up scoring 85 points, which is far to high for a road team to give up and expect to win on most nights
Before the game, I gave out three keys in which I thought would tell the difference in the game. And I think I got pretty close on most of them. Here are the three keys... revisited:
1) Own the Glass
Missouri didn't do enough on the glass to negate the disadvantages elsewhere, which is why it was a key. They won the rebounding advantages by 9, but outside of the initial 2nd half run, they didn't do a good enough job of keeping Auburn off the offensive glass. For that matter, they just didn't do a good enough job keeping Cinmeon Bowers off the glass, he had 9 offensive rebounds of his own. He's a tough guy to keep off the glass with his brute strength, but MIssouri didn't do enough team rebounding to make up the difference.
2) Value the Ball on the Road
The turnover numbers weren't great and most of them came at bad times. The Tigers ended up with 14 overall, but JW3 had 5 while Keanau Post had 3. 8 turnovers from two players isn't what you're looking for, particularly when those guys have been the two most important post players in the last few games. Two of those turnovers came from not good passes from the wing to their position at point where they both let Bowers through the gap (with some clutching and grabbing as he went by). They did what they needed to do in controlling pace, but they gave the ball up at terrible times and kept the other Tigers in the game with chances to get separation.
3) Three Point Makes are Good
Mizzou shot right around their average, the problem was the number of takes. 27 is far too many, when I talked about 3 point makes in the preview, I figured that the best case was for Mizzou to end up taking around 15-18 3-pointers, not nearly 30. Meanwhile, Auburn was busy taking the number of three's Mizzou needed to take, while hitting more than 50% of them. For a team that was shooting around 30% on the season, to hit 50% was bad timing for Mizzou. Auburn doesn't have a lot of great shooters on their team (their best is Harrell, but didn't miss on Saturday), but they took advantage. And Mizzou shot 5-18 by guys not named Keith Shamburger. including a bad shot late in the game with 39 seconds and down 4. Auburn was missing free throws, Missouri needed points.
Missouri not doing what it did early in the half to get the lead, relying too much on jump shots, not enough attacking the rim.
— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) January 11, 2015
After a 9-0 spurt to start the second half, Missouri's offensive possessions went like this: Missed 3, Turnover, Missed 3, Missed 3, 2 made FTs, Turnover, Turnover. Before they righted the ship, they had 3 missed 3's, 3 turnovers, and a couple made FTs. They had Auburn on the ropes, and they let them back up with 7 mostly awful possessions. That's how you lose on the road.
All that said, it's not like you expect Missouri to win a lot of road games this year. It just sucks that they gave one up that they really should have won. Missouri is a better team than Auburn, even with their extreme youth. This was a game they should have won. They didn't, let's hope they learn from it, because they have to move on and fast.
How 'bout them...
Averages overall are mostly trending up, which is a good sign. They're improving offensively, and just in time to take on what might be the best defensive team they'll play all year. Surely this will end well.
Two games in a row where the three main guards, Shamburger, Wes Clark and Tramaine Isabell all played well. I still think their shot totals were a bit high. Clark got up 14 shots, Shamburger 12 and Isabell 7. Clark taking 14 shots isn't quite where Missouri needs him to be, but without his "I'm taking over now" stretch, Missouri isn't even with striking distance. He made shots when Mizzou needed them badly. For the first time in what feels like a long time, he made shots with contact also, completing two old school three-point plays. Either way, the shot totals were high, but they were the most productive unit when they needed to be.
I don't know that they got outworked, but Bowers certainly was a bit too much for anyone that challenged him. He shot almost as many free throws as Missouri, scored 20 points, rebounded at will, and even made a 3-pointer. It was his night, and it was a game changer. Overall, they played with passion and fire, but it wasn't enough to overcome the obstacles of the road.
We saw more of Rosburg for the first time
- Keith Shamburger: 37 minutes
- Tramaine Isabell: 36 minutes
- Wes Clark: 27 minutes
- Johnathan Williams III: 26 minutes
- D'Angelo Allen: 23 minutes
- Ryan Rosburg: 16 minutes
- Jakeenan Gant: 15 minutes
- Namon Wright: 10 minutes
- Keanau Post: 8 minutes
- Deuce Bello: DNP (suspended)
- Montaque Gill-Caesar: DNP (injured)