Winning is fun. But it's the most fun when it happens like this, when you don't expect it. There were really zero reasons why Mizzou should have beaten LSU. They have the most talented frontcourt (outside of Kentucky, and to a man maybe better) in the SEC, and are brimming with talent. They were 100 spots ahead in KenPom, 120 spots in RPI, and 140 spots in BPI. That's a HUGE difference. They beat West Virginia on the road with a packed house screaming at them, so the less than intimidating atmosphere at the half full Mizzou Arena with virtually no student section wasn't going to affect them. Yet here was Mizzou, scratching and clawing and forcing LSU into bad shots possession after possession. The southern Tigers had 19 turnovers vs. Missouri's 14. Neither team shot particularly well, but the Tigers played through their mistakes and missed shots in a way the other Tigers couldn't, or didn't.
Before we dive too much into the game and what went down, let's revisit our three keys to the game and see how the good guys did...
1) Limit Second Chance Points
LSU had 17 offensive rebounds to Missouri's 10. However they only had 10 points off of those rebounds, that's only 5 opportunities out of 17 (or 29%) that LSU was able to convert. Missouri got their average of 10 rebounds. They were effective enough, and maintained enough grit when LSU got their offensive rebounds that I'd consider this a small win for the good Tigers.
Weird game leads to a weird stat. RT @todpalmer: Mizzou outscored LSU 36-24 in the paint despite 50-39 deficit in rebounding.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) January 9, 2015
2) Capitalize on Turnovers
I got one thing right. LSU gave the ball up. 19 times they turned it over. Missouri forced some of them, but so many were of the careless throw the ball away or don't catch the ball variety. LSU was going to cough the ball up, and Missouri was given extra chances (though they'd do well to cut down on their own 14 turnovers -- but it was overall a pretty sloppy game). But did MIzzou capitalize?
Yes, 18 points off turnovers. That's almost half, which is pretty good capitalization. LSU was careless, and Mizzou took advantage. A win for the good Tigers. Also, points off of turnovers can sometimes be fun.
3) Free Points
This one... well, LSU missed one less free throws than Missouri made. Missouri made 11 of 15, which is a good percentage, but not nearly enough attempts. Especially for a home game, when the visitor attempted 23 free throws. They did have success in getting LSU into some foul trouble. Both Mickey and Martin spent a fair portion of the 1st half on the bench, and Martin fouled out. That said, this is not part of the game that Missouri won.
Basically MIssouri had advantages in two offensive areas, Three point field goals made and assists. The three point attempts were equal, so the 3 additional made threes by Missouri, coupled with the fewer turnovers helped Missouri to enough of an advantage that they won the game.
No bigs, JW3 with 20&10 against 2 future pros.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) January 9, 2015
At this point, we have to be spoiled with what Johnathan Williams III brings to this team. He didn't have his most efficient night from the field going 8 for 17, but he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds going against Jarell Martin (9&7 - fouled out) and Jordan Mickey (9&17 - that's 17 rebounds, you read that right) who are both certain to be headed to the NBA soon, if not at the end of the year. Williams played through foul trouble, gave this team 36 minutes of high level play, and led them to their first big win of the season. He also did this, which was awesome...
And then, how can you talk about the success of this game and not talk about Keanau Post? Hows this line?
43 minutes, 9-15 FG, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, 19 points.
This is what Post has provided in the last two games. Talk about a turnaround. He's basically been the X-factor in both games, providing hustle, rebounding, dunks, and RELIABLE minutes. On a team that is lacking in reliability, man has this been refreshing. It may sound weird to say, but without Keanau Post, Missouri doesn't win the last two games.
But let's keep this moving. How do the stats look?
Three point shooting was important against the Southern version of the Tigers, and has saved the Tigers on more than one occasion this season. They struggled from the field, which was to be expected because points on the inside are difficult as both Mickey and Martin are highly intelligent defenders and adept at blocking shots. They got 6 blocks, and altered many others.
They played a lot of combined minutes, with even Tramaine Isabell getting 30 minutes, and he played the least of the three. A combined 101 minutes and 3 turnovers, 26 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists (that's a 4.3:1 Assist to Turnover Ratio!). Their shooting percentages weren't great, but with Mizzou down 8 with 8 to play, Keith Shamburger buried a 3, then Isabell hit one, that ignited the Wes Clark unconscious minute, which culminated with Shamburger hitting another 3. In all it was a 17-5 run, which was only overshadowed by the 9-0 to end the game in Overtime. That 17-5 run, all scores by your three points guards. I'm not sure you could ask for much more than what they provided.
Mizzou outworked LSU, and from the start. From where this team has started, this was a complete game for them effort wise. Something that we've almost seen on more than one occasion, but on this night, Missouri wanted to win more. LSU played like they expected to win.
A different distribution than we've seen thanks to Post coming on and MGC being out.
- Keith Shamburger: 37 minutes
- Johnathan Williams: 36 minutes
- Wes Clark: 34 minutes
- Namon Wright: 33 minutes
- Tramaine Isabell: 30 minutes
- Keanau Post: 29 minutes
- Jakeenan Gant: 14 minutes
- D'Angelo Allen: 10 minutes
- Ryan Rosburg: 2 minutes
- Deuce Bello: DNP (suspended)
- Montaque Gill-Caesar: DNP (injured)
All in all you have to feel good following any win you aren't expected to win. They need to reset and reset quickly. They've got Auburn (KenPom projected 4 point loss) at Auburn Saturday night. Then a quick turnaround to go TO Kentucky for a meetup with the Wildcats (Missouri's % chance to win went from 1 to 2% after the LSU win; good lucky guys). So the road doesn't get easier, if anything it gets more difficult. If they can sneak away from Auburn with a win, they'll take on Kentucky but then follow that with two winnable games vs Tennessee and Texas A&M. But step by step, go beat Auburn. It won't be easy, they'll be charged up.