Missouri, led by Coach Cuonzo Martin, enters this afternoon’s game with an 8-4 record. The Tigers dropped games on the road at Xavier, to Butler and Oklahoma on neutral courts, and then at home to Charleston Southern. However, ever since that upset home loss to Charleston Southern, Missouri has rattled off four straight victories including a 91-33 beatdown of Chicago State on Monday. As usual, Coach Martin’s team is very good defensively but also has faced offensive struggles. Mizzou ranks sixth in the nation in Scoring Defense allowing only 55.7 points per game while holding opponents to 36.1% shooting, good for eighth in the country in that category. On the offensive end of the floor, the Tigers really struggled to get going from 3-point range until they exploded for 16 3-pointers on 31 attempts against Chicago State. Still, they are only shooting 29.9% from beyond the arc. Missouri will look to turn this into an ugly, physical battle to open up Southeastern Conference play.
#12 Dru Smith: 6’3″ 203 lbs, Redshirt Junior Point Guard
11.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg
Point Guard. Big, strong guard. More of a driver than a shooter. No right hand drives. Really looking to penetrate and use his size to score in the paint. Closeout a step short to him until he makes a couple. Likes to shoot the floater or the little pull-up J from 10-feet and in. Have to have your hands up and be physical as he drives to give it a good contest. Capable shooter. 8-23 from 3-point range on the season. Just be there to take away the obvious catch-and-shoot 3’s. Don’t need to fly at him to start the game. Closeout to take away the drive. Can look for opportunities to help off of him when he doesn’t have it. You can hop under the ballscreens if you see them coming, otherwise be ready to switch. Not a bad thing to get a bigger guy on him. Get the ball stopped when he brings it in transition. Stay between him and the basket and keep him out of the paint.
#13 Mark Smith: 6’5″ 220 lbs, Junior Guard
11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 40.5% 3pt
SHOOTER!!! No 3’s!!! 72 of 104 shots have been 3’s. Have to be tight on him and take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Really looking to squeeze them off. Find him in transition. Chase him off of down screens and get over flares. Get over ballscreens if they are set for him. Absolutely no help off of him. When you are guarding him treat it like guarding McMahon for Louisville because he is really their primary threat from 3. Always have to be tight on him. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. Really gets them up anytime he has space. Will shoot them from deep to. Your only job is to take away his ATTEMPTS. Once you take away the 3 he will look to drive it right. Not thinking about passing it when he does drive.
#24 Kobe Brown: 6’7″ 240 lbs, Freshman Forward
5.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Big, strong wing. Willing shooter. Half of his shots have been 3’s but only shooting 18.2%. Be there to contest the obvious catch-and-shoot 3’s, but give him a step to start the game. No right hand drives. Physical driver. Shooting over 60% from 2-point range so playing him more as a driver than a shooter until he makes a couple. No layups! They will throw it ahead to him in transition some for him to drive it. Stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. Right hand, left shoulder if he posts up. Throw a hand up to contest if he shoots, but really focusing on keeping him out of the paint. Can help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter.
#5 Mitchell Smith: 6’10” 221 lbs, Redshirt Junior Forward
4.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Long, athletic forward. Plays on the wing and in the post. Willing shooter. Half of his shots have been 3’s. Closeout a step short to begin the game until he makes a couple. No right hand drives. Likes to ballscreen and try to get an easy dunk on the roll. Runs hard in transition. Don’t let him beat you down the court. Be physical in the post and get him off the block. Doesn’t really want the game to be physical. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Not a high percentage finisher. Make him score with you between him and the basket. Box out.
#14 Reed Nikko: 6’10” 240 lbs, Senior Forward
1.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Post player. Only going to shoot layups at the rim. 8-9 from the field on the season. Sets ballscreens, tries to offensive rebound, and plays defense. Be physical with him and don’t let him get a cheap, easy bucket. Right hand, left shoulder. BOX OUT!!! (Will come off the bench as their backup post if Jeremiah Tillmon can play).
#23 Jeremiah Tilmon: 6’10” 260 lbs, Junior Forward
9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Physical post player. Big & strong. Wants to score it in the post. He is looking to duck you in. Wants to catch it deep in the post. You have to be physical with him, do your work early, and get him off of the block. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Be physical on his right shoulder. High percentage finisher, but his percentages will go down the further off the block that he has to start his move. Bad free throw shooter. Foul if you are beat. No And-1s. Not thinking about passing when he catches it in the post. Come dig it off of him. Averaging 2 offensive rebounds per game. BOX OUT!!!
#1 Xavier Pinson: 6’2″ 170 lbs, Sophomore Guard
8.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.0 apg
Backup Point Guard. Very quick. Similar scout to #12 Dru Smith expect Pinson is smaller and not nearly as physical. Capable shooter, but just 6-27 on the season. Be there to contest the obvious catch-and-shoot. Start by closing out a step short to guard against the right hand drive. No right hand drives. Stay in between him and the basket and make him score over you. You can look to go under the ballscreens. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter but be aware of him cutting. Will push it some in transition, get back and get the ball stopped. No layups for him.
#0 Torrence Watson: 6’5″ 205 lbs, Sophomore Guard
4.9 ppg, 59 of 68 shots from 3
SHOOTER!!! No 3’s!!! 59 of 68 shots have been 3’s. Coming off of making 8 of 13 3-point attempts so he will be ready to jack them up. Have to be tight on him. Find him in transition. Chase him off downscreens and get over flares. Absolutely no help off of him! Looking to squeeze them off. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. Your job while guarding him is to take away his ATTEMPTS!
#4 Javon Pickett: 6’5″ 220 lbs, Sophomore Guard
7.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Big, strong guard. More of a driver than a shooter. No right hand drives. The 3’s that he makes are the inside-out 3’s off of penetration that he knows he is supposed to shoot. Just throw a hand up to contest the obvious catch-and-shoot 3’s. Really wants to drive it right. Will bring it some in transition when he gets a rebound. Have to stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. He is their leading offensive rebounder. Averaging over 2 offensive rebounds per game. BOX OUT!!!
They are primarily a 4-around-1 motion team offensively. They set A LOT of random ballscreens in their motion. A lot of those ballscreens they will set downhill (towards the baseline) in order to try and force switches. Free-flowing motion offense that relies on ballscreens, dribble penetration, and the drive-and-kick. They do have a handful of entries into their motion offense and a couple of set plays they will run in the half-court as well. This clip below is a good example of the ballscreens that they will set within their motion. Also, #20 for Illinois does a really bad job of stuffing the gap defensively. He is guarding #5 Mitchell Smith who is essentially a non-shooter but lets Dru Smith drive to his right for a layup.
“ELBOW”-Scoring Screen: Begins in Secondary spots. Point Guard dribbles over towards the right wing as the rim-run forward sets a back screen for the forward in the trail spot. If they can’t throw it to the guy off the back screen, they hit the screener popping to the top of the key. The point guard then sets a screen for the guard in the corner who will read the screen and look to score. They are just playing in their motion from there.
Wheel (Virginia Motion): Begins in Secondary spots. Point Guard dribble towards the right wing and hands-off with the guard coming out of the corner as the trail spot forward sets a downscreen for the guard in the other corner. The point guard continues around the baseline after handing off and gets his head under the rim. The ball has been reversed to the guard who came off the downscreen. At this point, he dribbles to the top of the key as the point guards comes off a downscreen on the left side and the other guard gets a flare screen from the post player who has come up to the perimeter. In the clip below they set one more flare and then are into motion which turns into a downscreen to dribble handoff action.
Baseline Runner: Point Guard hits a guard on the right wing and cuts away to the opposite corner. Forward posting up looking for it on the block while the other forward pops for a catch at the top of the key. Usually running this for #13 Mark Smith to get a 3, so he is on the left wing and starting to work towards the rim as the ball is reversed. Guard on the right wing comes off a little back screen from the post and gets his head under the rim to set up a staggered double for #13 Smith coming off for a 3. Have to chase Smith off that double. In the clip, you can see #21 from Illinois not in position to “show” on the staggered double because he was helping on the back screen. Good action to limit your help. Smith’s defender also goes “up through” the second screen instead of chasing but also had too much of a gap. Need to try and sniff this out so we can switch it if there is that much of a gap.
Very solid man-to-man team. They are going to be very physical with you on the ball and try to get away with some fouls to create steals. They will look to get out in the passing lanes some. Trying to use their defense to create some easy offense. Big & strong guards, long & athletic wings, and some good size around the basket. You have to be ready for them to be PHYSICAL!!! They aren’t necessarily a team that will stuff the driving gaps a ton. They are more focused on taking teams away from 3-point range. So, you should look for opportunities to get by your man 1-on-1 when you can in closeout situations. If you beat your defender be thinking about getting to the rim.
Keys to the Game
- No 3’s for #13 Mark Smith or #0 Watson. Smith is an outstanding shooter that is really looking to squeeze them off and Watson is very aggressive coming off of an 8-13 shooting performance. We have to limit their attempts and take them away from 3.
- Limit Turnovers. With their physical defense they are going to get away with some things and create a couple turnovers, but we have to keep away from the unforced turnovers. No mental lapses to give them easy buckets.
- Make your Free Throws. They are going to foul you. They will get away with some too, but we have to be strong with the ball and try to get into the bonus early in each half to take advantage of some points at the free throw line. Step up to the line and knock them in.
- Just Keep Playing. Their style of play is to just try and make the game as ugly as possible. They will have long possessions offensive and be very physical defensively. There may be a stretch or two where we don’t score for a few minutes. Just focus on continuing to get stops on our defensive possessions and keep playing our game on the offensive end. Don’t start to try and do too much.