Since joining the SEC, no program has beaten Missouri more than Ole Miss. It was a run started when Andy Kennedy had a tough program that took advantage of the SEC’s soft middle and only worsened when Kim Anderson took over. Now, Cuonzo Martin owns just two wins over the Ole Miss Rebels in eight tries. I’m not sure what the issue is with Mizzou and the state of Mississippi, but it’s a problem that needs solving — especially if Ole Miss is going to continue to be a permanent rival.
But this game wasn’t about the entire series. It was just one game, and it was played on terms set by the Rebels. They wanted to drag the game into the mud, and fight and scrap and claw their way on top. If Cuonzo Martin has adapted to a more modern game, Kermit Davis still believes in recruiting good athletes and setting them loose in diverse array of aggressive zone defenses. Ultimately, he picks the one that causes you the most problems.
For Missouri, it was a matchup 2-3 zone. To their credit, MU picked the lock on Ole Miss’ base 1-3-1 setup, which has a high pick-up point and uses length and athleticism to create treacherous lob passes over the top. Once Ole Miss tweaked its scheme, it paid attention to Mark Smith and forced Mizzou to make plays out of the high post. And after storming back from an 11-point deficit to take a two-point lead, Mizzou just couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to win the game.
- Every single stat here says Ole Miss win to me: The pace was slow, with long offensive possessions and tons of offensive rebounds. Turnovers were problematic for both teams. For Missouri it was the first half, while the Rebels struggled after the break.
- All year long Missouri has been a good 2-point shooting team. It’s tough to win when you shot 38.2 percent inside the arc and convert just 10 of 22 attempts around the rim. On top of its struggles inside the arc, Mizzou didn’t generate enough points from the free-throw line. Their 19.3 free-throw rate was the lowest mark — by a lot — this season.
- The defense did its job, aside from a bit of a slippage in the first half: Most of the night, the Tigers forced Ole Miss into guarded 2-point jumpers and forced enough turnovers to blunt the Rebels’ offensive punch. When that many things are equal, however, the game is tipped by only a few possessions.
Your Trifecta: Tilly, Mark, Kobe
On the season: Jeremiah Tilmon 33 points, Xavier Pinson 26 points, Dru Smith 26 points, Mark Smith 16 points, Kobe Brown 9 points, Javon Pickett 5 points, Parker Braun 3 points, Torrence Watson 2 points
I want to spend a little more time on the individuals here, but Jeremiah Tilmon coming in first on the trifecta with an offensive rating in the eighties isn’t great. Don’t get me wrong, Tilmon was MU’s best player on the glass and protecting the rim. But he only mustered nine shot attempts and turned the ball over three times (granted, two of those turnovers can be chalked up to poor high-low entry passes). It was enough to dent his efficiency on a night where it was desperately needed.
It’s nice to have reliable Mark Smith back. If anything, I thought he didn’t look for his shot enough down the stretch. But now, let’s get to the negatives...
If MU’s goal is to make noise in the postseason, they need Xavier Pinson to produce consistently. By now, we know Pinson’s play runs hot and cold, but recently, the swings seem more pronounced. I got a little excited about his play at South Carolina because it was actually just good. Not great or bad. Meanwhile, even if X struggles, Dru Smith’s reliability has almost become a rule.
Except on Tuesday.
Last night, the Tigers’ primary ball-handlers combined for just 11 total points on eight shots. Neither knocked down a 3-pointer. And worst, they didn’t attempt a single free throw. Pat Adams and his crew were light on the whistles, letting contact around the rim slide. Considering Mizzou’s offense is built, in part, on manufacturing freebies, that’s a problem. As a result, MU’s offense sputtered down the stretch.
So, Pinson had a night with 20 percent usage and 14 percent floor rate. That’s not at all good. Still, Mizzou did put together one six-minute stretch of competent offense, a 15-2 run from between the 15:19 and 9:25 mark of the second half. It felt like Mizzou was making their move and had the momentum. Then, the most unassuming player on the floor checked out and the offense bogged back down.
I’m not sure what made Drew Buggs work so well, but when Cuonzo Martin paired him with a few of the starters, the offense found a rhythm. It also helped that the lineup prodded Ole Miss into five turnovers and six missed six shots.
But when Buggs was subbed out for Pinson, the Rebels stabilized. Three empty possessions with a two point lead (two of those with Buggs on the floor if we’re being upfront about everything), and Missouri had lost its momentum. The game morphed into a slugfest down the stretch.
There was one other play, though, that stood out and could’ve helped Mizzou maintain momentum. It Tilmon’s spin to a layup to tie the game back up at 50. The senior was shoved in the back. He still scored it, but it was clearly a shove. No call. Instead of stopping the game and potential three-point play, the action went on.
Offensively, the Tigers were a mild disaster down the stretch. Pinson stared at the matchup 2-3 zone, unsure sure how to attack it. There were no cutters. No real attempts to screen the wing. Ultimately, Pinson deferred to Dru Smith, who missed shots on back to back possessions as Ole Miss expanded its lead to six points from two.
The loss obviously hurts Missouri’s SEC seeding standpoint and its potential seeding in the NCAA tournament. While the Tigers are still firmly in the field, the loss likely dashes hopes of making a push toward a five-seed. Instead, MU’s probably aiming to keep its place squarely in the middle of the No. 6 seed line. (ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, for example, has them No. 23 on his overall seed list.) That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see MU move down another seed line.
As far as the SEC tournament is concerned, MU is now seventh in the standings and holds a tiebreaker over Kentucky. The circumstances required for the Tigers to earn a double-bye are also extreme. First, MU needs to win out. Next, Florida, Tennessee and LSU all need to lose their remaining games. In that scenario, MU’s win over Alabama would give them the tiebreaker against LSU for No. 4 seed in Nashville.
That also assumes there’s a visit from Texas A&M this weekend. What does seem certain is the program’s 11-week stay in the top-25 poll ends next Monday.
True Shooting Percentage (TS%): Quite simply, this calculates a player’s shooting percentage while taking into account 2FG%, 3FG%, and FT%. The formula is Total Points / 2 * (FGA + (0.475+FTA)). The 0.475 is a Free Throw modifier. KenPomeroy and other College Basketball sites typically use 0.475, while the NBA typically uses 0.44. That’s basically what TS% is. A measure of scoring efficiency based on the number of points scored over the number of possessions in which they attempted to score, more here.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): This is similar to TS%, but takes 3-point shooting more into account. The formula is FGM + (0.5 * 3PM) / FGA
So think of TS% as scoring efficiency, and eFG% as shooting efficiency, more here.
Expected Offensive Rebounds: Measured based upon the average rebounds a college basketball team gets on both the defensive and offensive end. This takes the overall number of missed shots (or shots available to be rebounded) and divides them by the number of offensive rebounds and compares them with the statistical average.
AdjGS: A take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual’s “score” for a given game. The “adjustment” in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game’s points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
Offensive Rating (ORtg): Similar to Adjusted game score, but this looks at how many points per possession a player would score if they were averaged over 100 possessions.
Usage%: This “estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor” (via sports-reference.com/cbb). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team’s offensive outcome.
Floor%: Via sports-reference.com/cbb: Floor % answers the question, “When a Player uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?”. The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.
Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, touches attempt to estimate, “the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor.” Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession. For point guards, you’ll see the number in the 3-4 range. For shooting guards and wings, 2-3. For an offensively limited center, 1.30. You get the idea.
Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player “in an attacking position” passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.