For the second game in a row, it was Tigers vs. Tigers, and this one ended up a lot better than the last.
Following Wednesday’s 73-70 loss at LSU, Jekyll (home) & Hyde (road) Mizzou did what everyone expected them to do now that they were back at home – where they are undefeated on the season, 28-1 under head coach Frank Haith – rolling Auburn 91-77 to move to 16-5 and 5-3 in the SEC behind junior Earnest Ross and senior Keion Bell. The duo scored 47 points on 17-of-25 shooting (68%), while the rest of the team tallied 44 points on 13-30 shooting (43%). Speaking of Jekyll & Hyde, Phil Pressey was at his best this afternoon, totaling one of the best one field goal games imaginable, scoring just four points (1-2 FG, both from 3) with 10 assists and just one turnover. That is the good Flip, as opposed to the bad Flip (which we will go over more below).
Auburn’s FT shooting (15-16 in the first half) kept them in it in, where they trailed 45-35 at the break. But, in typical Missouri fashion where they put the game away before or shortly after the half, a 13-1 run opened up a 62-42 lead early in the second half, and it was basically over.
Now, on to another roadie – where I’m still predicting Missouri will go winless until they actually win one – Thursday night at familiar foe Texas A&M (8 pm, ESPN2). The Aggies are 13-8 (3-5) and have not won a game since a shocking win at Kentucky, who beat A&M tonight in OT.
Good (home) Tigers vs. Bad (road) Tigers
I highlighted some of the numbers following the loss to LSU, but here is the rundown on the road:
- Missouri has never led and trailed by 15+ in each game (10+ if you count UCLA) and trailed by a combined 63-24 through the first 10 minutes (88-40 if you count UCLA), an average deficit of 22-10.
- Missouri shot 16-57 (22%) from 3-point range, despite 22 attempts per game and is shooting 36% (60-167) from the floor, compared to their opponents (Ole Miss, Florida and LSU) shooting 82-160 (51%).
- Missouri has an awful turnover to assist ratio of 24:48, that’s right two TO’s to every one assist and has yet to have more assist than turnovers in any of the games.
- Despite leading the SEC in rebounding and free throw shooting, the Tigers are just +4 in rebounding.
Obviously it’s a different story at home for the Tigers, where they do everything doubly better, except maybe rebounding and free throw shooting where Missouri is best in SEC and do both fairly well, regardless. Take 3-point shooting, Missouri shoots just 22% on the road, but nearly 40% at home. Today they were 6-16 (38%) even with their best shooter (Jabari Brown) going 0-5.
Alex Oriakhi is as night and day difference as they come. He came into today averaging a double-double 16 points, 10 rebounds at home (just 3 & 3 on the road). He finished with 11 & 6 today.
The Tigers also shot 55 (30-55) from the floor. They are lucky to do half that on the road. Earnest Ross is 15-28 from 3 (54%) at home in SEC play, but just 11% (1-9) on the road.
Good Flip> Bad Flip
As Missouri fans, we take the good with the bad. His good is really good, and that was the case today when we had four incredible circus passes that even faked out the camera men.
We know the bad:
- He is now 1-17 from 3 in SEC road games (4-25 in all road games) and 30% overall (26-86) and has taken 17 shots or more in a game five times this season (Missouri record 3-2)
- He is averaging 11.9 shots per game – far too many for someone who is shooting 37% from the floor (29% from 3). To make matters worse, only one player (Thomas Gardner .257 in 2004-2005) has taken as many 3’s as Pressey in the first 21 games and had a worse percentage. Maybe just as bad was Marcus Denmon averaged a half-shot more (12.4) per game last year in which he was a dead-eye shooter and a two-time All-Big 12 performer.
- And the bone-headed mistakes and turnovers, too, or trying to take a game over when the team is down.
But today, Pressey was fantastic. He took just two shots – both 3’s. The first was a make and ignited an 11-1 run that put Mizzou up 20, 62-42. He spent most of the game not even looking at the basket or looking to score. He played great and got his teammates involved.
“I think Phil did an outstanding job tonight,” Haith said. “He was a point guard tonight. Phil’s one of the best point guards in the country if not the best. I’m so grateful and blessed to have a kid like that who can make plays. He’s a great leader. Today he was on his game. It’s all about trusting your teammates. When you trust your teammates, and he’s got some pretty good guys around him, I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty doggone good.”
Pressey went from 22 shots to two the next game. Unheard of.
“You figure that out,” Haith, with a smile, when asked how big an emphasis was made to Pressey of getting other people involved after LSU game.
With his 10 assist, Flip is moving closer to being Mizzou’s all-time assists leader.
Most Assists in Missouri History
- You think Keion Bell was missed at LSU? He scored a Mizzou career-high with 24 points on 9-13 shooting, adding five boards and three steals. He was very active and played the point when Flip was out of the game and did perfectly fine, getting to the basket and proved again that he is a much better option at that spot than Negus Webster-Chan (who by the way actually started Wednesday at LSU). NWC did not see the floor until four minutes left in the game. THANK GOD. He has no business seeing the floor. At least he scored for the first time in SEC play at LSU. He is now averaging 0.4 points per game in league play. You have to wonder how much a difference Bell could have made in the LSU game.
- “I’m starting to get more and more comfortable as far as finding my niche within the team,” Bell said. “I believe that not just me, but we all are starting to understand our roles a lot better.”
- You think Earnest Ross was motivated to play his former team? He had this one circled on his calendar. He had himself some kind of game – 23 points, a new Missouri career-high on 5-of-6 3-point shooting, with three steals and some trash talking to the Auburn bench and a technical foul.
- “It was kind of a personal thing when I stepped on to the court,” Ross said. “I know most of those guys so, you know, it’s more of like a friendly rival, I would say.”
- “If I played UCONN, I’d feel the same way. I know exactly how he feels,” Oriakhi said. “There’s probably no greater feeling than to play good against your former team. I’m happy for him, he played great.”
- Jabari Brown entered the game tied with Ole Miss’s Marshall Henderson with 24 made 3’s in league play. He went 0-5, but still scored 11 thanks to a perfect 7-7 from the FT line.
- Auburn made 19 of their first 20 FT’s and finished 32-36 (89%). Missouri, the league’s best FT shooting shot 78%. There was a combined 49 fouls called and 69 FT’s. Both teams were in the bonus with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
- Oriakhi became a member of the 1,000-point club with an And-1 in the post just before the under 12-minute media timeout.
- “When they announced it, it was definitely a great feeling,” he said. “When you have your teammates supporting you, it’s even better. So it’s just a blessing and I’m happy I’m going to be able to end my career as a Tiger.”
- Missouri outscored Auburn 42-20 in the paint.
- Auburn fell to 8-13 overall and has lost six straight after beginning league play 2-0.
- Auburn was the first team to score more than 70 points at Mizzou Arena this season. Despite the 77 points, Missouri played much better defensively. Missouri killed it on the boards and Auburn did not shoot well.
- For most of the first half, Missouri clearly looked like the better team, but Auburn hung around and was within a possession or two most of the half.
- Bowers received a big ovation from the crowd in his first start at home since the injury.
- Key first half stats: Missouri shot 51% from the floor, Auburn just 32%. Missouri 12-15 from the line. Bell has 15 points on 6-9 shooting, Ross 13 on 5-7, Pressey had five assists.
- Seven players had two fouls and an eighth (Missouri’s Ryan Rosburg) had three.
- Missouri had five guys in double figures. The one not mentioned was Bowers (12). The other four – the quartet of transfers Ross, Bell, Brown and Oriakhi – scored 69 of the 91 points.
- This was just the third time all season Missouri played at full-strength.
- “This is the first game since Dec. 22 that we’ve had our whole team,” Haith said. “That’s what I look at. That’s a blessing.”
- Missouri, 0-4 on the road, plays five of the next seven away from home.
- “We’ve got to get off to better starts on the road,” Haith said. “In early games we haven’t had really good starts. And that comes from focus and energy and passion and all the things we have here when we play at home. We’ve got to generate that.”