No. 20 Missouri scored 86 points tonight against No. 2 Kansas. They shot 51.7% from the floor. The Tigers hit eight threes, put each of their starters into double figures, and committed just eight turnovers.
And they still managed to lose by 17 to a team that missed 10 free throws and had a starter in street clothes.
Its tough to put into words just how dominating the Jayhawks were on the offensive end of the floor in Monday’s 103-86 win, so I’ll let the numbers help me out: Kansas shot 60.7% from the floor, 66.7% in the second half, and 11-19 from three. They grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to Missouri’s 15 defensive rebounds. The Morrii combined for 38 points and 15 boards on 13-17 shooting from the field while Mario Little, Travis Releford, and Thomas Robinson combined for 36 points and 15 boards on 14-17 shooting, including 5-5 from three, off the bench. Most impressive, however, was that Kansas scored a blistering 1.47 PPP.
This was a terrific offensive performance for the Jayhawks, but its not exactly a surprise. In six of their last seven league games, Kansas has notched at least 1.22 PPP. The only game that didn’t happen? Against Texas, where they were held to 0.88 PPP. But I digress.
As good as Kansas looked offensively, Missouri looked that bad defensively. They allowed the Jayhawks to get, literally, whatever they wanted on the offensive end. Think about this stat — Kansas only scored four of their 103 points in transition. That means all but two of their baskets came against Missouri’s set defense. That is not a good sign. The Tigers scored plenty of points. They had plenty of opportunities to get into their pressure and force turnovers, but they didn’t do it.
That’s problem for Mizzou, because they aren’t a great defensive team in the half court. They don’t cut off penetration all that well, they are slow rotating defensively (especially when the ball is coming out of the post), and they have issues rebounding the ball on that end of the floor.
The fact that Missouri struggled on the road shouldn’t be a surprise. The Tigers are now 0-5 away from home in Big 12 play. Its the reason why the Tigers are currently sitting in sixth place in the league standings, one spot behind Oklahoma.
We know the Jayhawks are one of the best teams in the country. We know that they are a one seed, a Final Four favorite, and one of the few teams this season capable of winning the national title.
Right now, we don’t know what to make of this Missouri team.
Winning on the road is the best way to determine who is a contender and who is a pretender. Missouri has the talent, especially with guys like Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers playing like they did tonight.
But the pieces just aren’t coming together for Mizzou.
They aren’t defending and they aren’t moving the ball well enough on the offensive end of the floor, especially away from home.
And unless they figure it out quickly, the Tigers look like they may end up being just another mediocre team in the middle of the Big 12 pack.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.