Obnoxious Analysis: Tigers Attack Basket, Change Fortune vs. Georgia

The Missouri Tigers had their hands full Tuesday night. Not only were they getting beat by a lackluster team they were favored to beat at home, but the team now had the restless fan base to deal with, who were already filing out of Mizzou Arena.

They knew it was coming, the criticism. They could feel it. Players aren’t blind to what their perception is, despite the fact they seldom acknowledge it.

Not again. Another loss. There’s going to be more criticism of coach Cuonzo Martin, they’re going to say the players gave up, they’re going to pick the team apart.

But then slowly, and with precision, Xavier Pinson began to hit small shots and get to the foul line. Big man Reed Nikko was able to establish a presence inside in the continued absence of Jeremiah Tilmon, and played what many local journalists referred to as the best game of his career.

Dru Smith’s 16 points were essential as well, and his chemistry with Pinson during the second half comeback was butter. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to enable the comeback.

Defense was a key, as Mizzou had essentially allowed Georgia Bulldogs standout Anthony Edwards to have a pro-day exhibition up to that point. On draft day, when Edwards easily goes in the top-5, you’ll likely see highlights from this game at some point. But the Tigers were able to contain Edwards in a team effort, while Georgia wasn’t able to supply an answer from someone else.

But perhaps the happiest person was Coach Martin. You could tell from the tone in his voice and the words he used that the relief he’s feeling will allow him to have a much better night of sleep than he’s been getting lately. He was happy for his players that succeeded, and happy he didn’t have to go into a defensive mode to start his press conference.

It was a feel-good night all around.

The big positive in this is that Mizzou was able to win this game after abandoning what is perceived to be their primary strength, the three-point shot. Granted that Reed Nikko will not be able to win every game for Mizzou simply by taking the ball to the hoop, but with Jeremiah Tilmon expected to return this Saturday at South Carolina, there may be a new dynamic approach to the Tigers’ offense.

Relying on the three-point shot is like taking a gamble. But being able to have two legitimate threats to keep defenses guessing, might help open up the three a little bit more.

We’ll see how this game plan plays out against the Gamecocks, game time is 2:30pm Mizzou Time on SEC Network.

Obnoxious Mizzou Fan is 3-0 as a backyard wrestler. Follow him on Twitter.

Comeback City: Xavier Pinson and Reed Nikko Lead 20-Point Mizzou Comeback

Mizzou was able to shake the ugly identity that’s usually associated with close games, at least since the Kim Anderson-era. It was an epic comeback that hasn’t been seen in Columbia in quite some time.

The Tigers started well, but then found themselves down by as many as 18 points in the first half before closing the break trailing 42-30 against one of the worst teams in the SEC in the Georgia Bulldogs.

Mizzou went down by 20 points with around 13 minutes remaining in the game. But, the play of Xavier Pinson and Reed Nikko got the Tigers back into the game. Pinson’s free throw shooting and field goals helped enable the comeback.

The play of Nikko down the stretch helped establish a more physical game to a winded Georgia team.

Dru Smith also had 16 points.

The Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak, winning four of their last five games against Georgia.

Mark Smith sat on the bench during the whole second half with an injury that looked painful.

Mizzou next plays this Saturday at South Carolina on SEC Network. Tip-off time is set for 2:30pm Mizzou Time.

Obnoxious Mizzou Fan likes cream soda and you should, too. Follow him on Twitter.

Halftime: A Half of Two Halves, the Mizzou Way

Forget those guys who were too timid to pull the trigger and find their comfort zones, and it started with a huge three-point-shot by Torrence Watson on the baseline. Taking the lead isn’t going to be essential right now, just staying in the game and allowing the hot shooting to potentially continue in the second half is going to be the recipe.

Amazing that it’s been the transition play, this could be the Florida game all over again.

Preview: Mizzou Basketball Travels to Morgantown to Take on West Virginia

Take that image you had at the beginning of the season out of your head. Seeing the West Virginia game on the slate brought a guarded optimism that Mizzou could pull out a win against a relatively consistent program.

Come Gameday however, it doesn’t have the same fuzzy feeling we were all hoping. Mizzou moral is low, but there is a silver lining to all of this, in that the Tigers would have a lot to gain from what is now a ranked West Virginia team.

The important thing to remember while the Tigers seem to be in a free-fall is that this isn’t a Kim Anderson squad. These teams aren’t losing games they should be in by 20, 30 points. I remain absolutely resolute in my stance that this team is talented enough to play with the majority of the SEC, they’ve just happen to lose a lot of games.

The scouting report on the Mountaineers is pretty intimidating given the Tigers recent weaknesses. Success begins and ends with two of their forwards, Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, both of which nearly average a double-double every game. Tshiebwe is 6’9″ and listed at 258, while Culver is only 6’10” and weighs in at 255.

One of their primary three-point threats is a freshman they’re big on, Miles McBride. He’s currently better than 40 percent from 3-point range on the season. Over the last three games, shooting percentages have been 71, 73 and 57. So if you plan on somehow establishing a physical game, you’re going to have to contend with McBride on the outside.

So is there a hope? There is if Mizzou can meet three major criteria, and they will probably have to pull every one of them off to even have a chance.

One, shoot lights out from three. We will have to have another “Florida game” from behind the arc to be able to stay level.

Secondly, we’ll need to continue the absolutely red hot pace from behind the line. We need to get to the line often, hopefully establish foul trouble for their forwards, and keep netting free throws.

Finally, and yes I mean this, something is going to have to happen that takes one of their players out of the game. Whether it’s a freak illness, or somebody accidentally pulling a muscle in warmups, Mizzou will also need the benefit of some freak bad luck.

The odds aren’t good, but that’s why they play the game. West Virginia has an excellent coach in Bob Huggins and a bench of very big, talented guys. The Tigers have leadership and talent as well, it’s just going to take every bit of it for Mizzou to come out with a victory on Saturday.

Obnoxious Mizzou Fan can cook things but sometimes prefers cheese and unwarmed bread. Follow him on Twitter.

Free Throw Record a Bitter Consolation Prize

Mizzou took an odd streak into Tuesday night’s game against Texas A&M. It didn’t come along with winning any games, so there just wasn’t any real excitement about it. Acknowledgement? Sure, but more of a sarcastic excitement almost.

It was a team record, which should be a bigger deal, but following the 66-64 loss, the only thing the team really wanted was to have won the game.

And the fans, too, for that matter.

But, just as a “win is a win” I guess a “record is a record” as well. We’ll all be able to look back fondly years from now and remember the time where the team was still terrible but they at least got that record.

The season presses on. The Tigers next play at No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday at 11:00am Mizzou Time.

Rapid Reaction: Caleb Love Chooses UNC, Mizzou Loses Out on Big Recruit

Another big name college recruit from the state of Missouri is leaving to play elsewhere, this time for the North Carolina Tarheels.

Mizzou fans were predictably unhappy, but not too many expected Caleb Love to pick Mizzou over national powerhouse North Carolina.

Most of the reactions were frustrated, but within reason.

The Antlers had a direct yet unemotional response:

Everyone’s favorite Twitter fan Mizzou Kris came at it with a little sarcasm, which is perfect for this kind of situation.

Not everyone was so happy, however. Some people were a little salty with Love’s presentation.

Still others weren’t as focused on Love so much as they were Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin.

Many other top recruits hang in the balance still for Missouri, but no question that losing out on Love was a huge missed opportunity that could have helped propel Mizzou to the next level. But as for now, the next step for some will be learning how to cope with this shattering reality check.

Dan Irwin wrote this. He has a Twitter account but you probably shouldn’t follow it.

Blake Harris Transfer Means Less Than You Might Think

It’s the start of an unassuming Friday right before a huge game against Florida on CBS tomorrow, and everything was feeling good. Even listened to Keep Their Heads Ringin’ by Dr. Dre this morning while driving, just because everything was feeling like a good Friday.

But now the news about Blake Harris, a former ESPN Top 100 guard who came to Mizzou from the basketball-entrenched land of North Carolina, purely to play with Michael Porter, Jr.

Now a lot of people are beginning to hit the panic button quickly. Why? Aside from leading the team in assists with moderate numbers, his points and productivity during minutes isn’t going to be a very big loss at all.

And of course, any “glass half empty” fans will tell you we lost *another* four-star guy, and that doesn’t look good. I get that, but they’re leaving for different reasons (C.J. Roberts and Blake Harris), so I’m not to worried about the culture of the team falling apart, and I just don’t buy into the “Cuonzo has lost the team” sentiment either, there’s no proof of it. Even Harris, who could have really taken any kind of shot he wanted on his way out, said there was nothing wrong with the program (h/t @DaveMatter), and I belive him.

So what does this all mean?

Well, it means that a guy who didn’t have the best attitude about already being “the man”, and finding a way to blame his surroundings, is gone. He was also not likely to stay longer than Michael Porter, Jr’s career at Mizzou anyway, was probably going to transfer afterwards. This means fewer team resources and assets going into a player who ultimately won’t be helping Mizzou.

The big question moving forward is can Terrence Phillips and Jordan Geist step up to lead this team. Both players have had their inconsistencies, but have great speed and defense as well. The success of the team moving forward depends on them more.

As for Harris, he’s probably headed to N.C. State…or kansas if he really wants to try to stick it to Cuonzo.