I can’t imagine many people have pleasant trips to Morgantown, and even moreso when you have to play the Mountaineers.
Easy digs against the good folks of West Virginia aside, yesterday didn’t go well. Namely, there was a segment of about six minutes of game action where West Virginia went from a team threatened by a scrappy underdog on the early card at home, to one running away in a blowout.
It happened fast, too. In a landslide of poor possessions, and an inability to steal a possession or two to keep your head above water, Mizzou went from a single point deficit to behind 22 points. Let’s relive the pain, shall we? Here’s how it all happened (these are strictly the Missouri possessions):
- 18:03 – Missed 3PT Xavier Pinson
- 17:33 – Turnover Dru Smith
- 16:55 – Missed 3PT Mitchell Smith
- 16:37 – Missed 3PT Xavier Pinson
- 16:09 – Missed Tray Jackson layup
- 15:29 – Missed 3PT Mitchell Smith
- 14:50 – Turnover Dru Smith
- 14:31 – Turnover Xavier Pinson
- 14:15 – Missed 3PT Mark Smith
- 13:59 – Missed Reed Nikko layup (blocked)
- 13:25 – Turnover Reed Nikko
- 13:00 – Missed 3PT Torrence Watson
So that’s 12 possessions, six missed threes, four turnovers, two unsuccessful attempts at the rim, and zero points. West Virginia got 9 points off turnovers during the streak, and 10 points off second chance points. Some of those points overlapped, but going into the game we knew what sort of team West Virginia was. They thrived on second chance points and easy baskets, and they took Missouri’s early punch and then laid them up with a technical knock out.
From then on, the margin ebbed and flowed. It ballooned to as big 29 points before a Torrence Watson flurry trimmed it back to 23 at the end. But that six minute stretch was the deciding factor. Mizzou had 12 possessions, West Virginia 13. The Tigers scored zero points, the Mountaineers scored 21.
For a while it looked like West Virginia, a team who likes to muck it up, and Missouri, another team who likes to muck it up, would muck each other up enough to have an ugly, somewhat close game. I still expected WVU to win the game, but after the first half the thought seeped into my head… ‘Maybe they can keep this close.’
- You knew it would be a brutal day on the glass, but this… -9.1 is quite a number. Mizzou has given up 41% a few times (Butler, Oklahoma, Florida), but 51.2% is a crushing number. On the year Mizzou is giving up 28%, WVU usually grabs about 40% (they actually rank first in the country). The Tigers are an average defensive rebounding team actually, but you don’t expect them to get crushed like they did.
- 3FG% – basically even, FT% – basically even: but we need to talk about 2FG now. I’m sorry. But the Tigers were +7 on 3s and FTs. But the Tigers were -30 from inside the arc. That’s minus 15 made baskets.
So it would appear West Virginia basically just West Virginia’d Missouri by crushing the glass, forcing turnovers, and making the Tigers’ life miserable inside the arc.
Your Trifecta: Torrence Watson, Kobe Brown, Axel Okongo
On the season: Dru Smith 29 points, Mark Smith 23 points, Jeremiah Tilmon 15 points, Kobe Brown 14 points, Javon Pickett 12 points, Mitchell Smith 7 points, Xavier Pinson 6 points, Torrence Watson 6 points, Tray Jackson 2 points, Reed Nikko 1 point, Parker Braun 1 point, Axel Okongo 1 point
This is how bad it was. Axel Okongo, bless him, played eight nearly non-existent minutes, but because he didn’t do anything bad, he snuck into the trifecta. He had a dunk for his first career points, and that was enough.
Kobe Brown only played 14 minutes, but a single made three, a few rebounds and an assist got him into a clear second.
And if there’s a hope, though it clearly didn’t work the last time around, but Torrence Watson’s torrid finish to the game against an assortment of walk-ons might be enough to get him back onto the right track. He’s made two other trifectas (Chicago St, Oklahoma), but neither has catapulted him into the consistency we hoped for after the way he finished the season last year. But if we’re being honest, 14 of his points came within the last 6:30 of the game. And he hit three 3-pointers within the final 2:02. Cleaning up in mop up time isn’t normally the recipe you use to get right. Maybe it is.
These are all ugly too.
It was nice to see Tray Jackson out there. And we were able to see some productivity in the last eight minutes of the first half, when Mizzou outscored WVU 17-4.
ROTATIONS | Lineups with Kobe Brown and Try Jackson got some traction for #Mizzou when they were incorporated with Xavier Pinson, Dru Smith and Reed Nikko. That’s about the only silver lining I have for you. pic.twitter.com/yE4ioj61rn
— Matt Harris (@MattJHarris85) January 26, 2020
For 2:30, Cuonzo Martin ran with an unusual lineup and it made a dent. Pinson-Watson-Brown-Nikko together went on a 7-0 run. The unconventional lineup worked because it increased Missouri’s strength on the glass, and they were able to get a couple made threes from Watson and Brown.
Of all the matchups in the challenge, this was always going to be the toughest for Missouri to pull off.
The good news is— the rest of the SEC managed to tread water in the matchup against the Big 12:
- Auburn 80, Iowa State 76
- LSU 69, Texas 67
- Oklahoma 63, Mississippi State 62
- Kansas 74, Tennessee 68
- Oklahoma State 73, Texas A&M 62
- Arkansas 78, TCU 67
- Kentucky 76, Texas Tech 74
- Alabama 77, Kansas State 74
- Baylor 72, Florida 61
I like the series, I like that it’s in late January, but I wish they could be better about the matchups. If you look at the KenPom ratings of the matchups, only Kentucky-TTU and Oklahoma-Mississippi State were within 10 spots of each other. There were still a few close games, but the intrigue left a lot to be desired.
Part of the issue is the overall quality of teams this year. Both the Big 12 and SEC just aren’t as deep as they’ve been in recently years. The SEC’s challenge of occasionally leaving out some of their better teams didn’t happen this year. Missouri was the lowest rated team in the mix, and of the teams left out everyone is rated below the Tigers. So the SEC got the top 10 teams this year.