Basket Case: No. 10 Missouri men’s basketball allows season-worst field goal percentage in loss to Ole Miss

The Rebels shot 56.9% from the field and nearly set the highest field goal percentage against a Cuonzo Martin-coached team.

After 16 minutes of play against Ole Miss, No. 10 Missouri men’s basketball hit its sixth 3-pointer of the game, matching the team’s season average.

The Tigers shot 3-pointers at a 42.1% clip, 12 percentage points higher than their season average, and neared the 50% from the field.

Overall, it was a sound offensive performance from coach Cuonzo Martin’s squad.

But the offensive numbers paled in comparison to those of the Rebels (11-8, 6-6 SEC), who torched the Tigers (13-4, 6-4 SEC) for one of the most efficient offensive performances in Martin’s coaching history in a 80-59 blowout.

“Some guys just didn't give it tonight,” Martin said. “Some guys didn’t show up.”

Missouri established its tempo early and didn’t get lost in the zone defense Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis employed to slow the game down. The Tigers weren’t getting out into the fast break, but ball movement opened up clean 3-point looks as forward Kobe Brown and guard Dru Smith knocked down a three apiece to open the scoring.

Guard Xavier Pinson opened his night with a couple made shots and Smith continued his SEC Player of the Week form as Missouri held a seven-point advantage through the first four minutes, a running trend over the Tigers’ best performances.

But, Ole Miss kept pace and closed the gap in a hurry on five-consecutive makes, which turned a six-point deficit into a five-point advantage. Through the opening 10 minutes, Ole Miss shot a blistering 67% with a balanced scoring attack and even better ball movement than Missouri.

All things considered, Missouri kept pace with the torrent Ole Miss offense and remained competitive. The Tigers held onto the ball, scored on half of their possessions and made 50% of their 3-pointers. Going into halftime, the Rebels only held a five-point advantage.

Missouri maintained its strong shooting percentage to open the second half, but the Tigers didn’t have much luck holding onto the ball. Pinson and forward Jeremiah Tilmon each committed a turnover within the first three minutes of the half as Missouri went on a 5:02 drought. From the close of the first half until three minutes into the second half, Missouri could barely muster up a shot.

Martin needed to call a timeout to regroup his team before things got out of hand. He trusted his team to take charge in a strong second half effort.

“That has to be the leadership on the floor,” Martin said. “When I say leadership, all the five guys on the floor have to take pride in what they're doing, you have to somewhat stop the bleeding.”

Missouri tried its best to put a metaphorical Band-Aid on the Ole Miss offense, but it didn’t stick.

A 13-0 Ole Miss run spanned from the end of the first half into the opening minutes of the second half and couldn’t miss a shot. Reigning co-SEC Player of the Week Devontae Shuler, guard Jarkel Joiner and forward Luis Rodriguez all recorded double-digit points by the early second half.

Every heat-check shot went down and Missouri couldn’t do much to halt the momentum. Tough pull-up two-pointers fell at a similar rate to Mississippi State’s upset win on Jan. 5. There was even a play where Shuler stared down forward Mitchell Smith and hit a triple right in his face.

“That's what happens when you allow a team to get their head up, play with energy, play with enthusiasm,” Martin said. “They made it a ball game and we paid for it.”

Missouri’s strong suit this season has been its ability to defend inside the arc with a relatively tall lineup at all five positions. Its 43.1% 2-point field goal percentage in SEC play is the best in the league.

Ole Miss looked at those numbers, shrugged and sank 70% of its 2-point attempts. Martin said the Rebels looked at ease shooting shots when they got inside the 3-point line.

“I thought they had too much comfort and rhythm in the shooting more than anything,” Martin said. “I didn't think they wanted to rest in a lot of cases.”

Until Ole Miss missed its last four shots, Davis’ squad shot 61.7% from the field and was on the verge of setting the highest field goal percentage against any team Martin has coached. Nevertheless, the Rebels will accept a 56.9% outing any day.

“I don't even know how many shots they missed really,” Dru Smith said. “It felt like everything was going in.”

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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