Three takeaways from Mizzou's loss at Mississippi State.
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And-One: Mizzou lays egg at Mississippi State

The morning after each Mizzou basketball game this season, we will highlight a few notable takeaways from the performance in the ‘And-One.’

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Slow start spells doom

For a stretch during non-conference play, Missouri dug itself into early holes from which it could not escape in three consecutive losses. The Tigers then shook up the starting lineup and had started games better of late, but on the road against Mississippi State Tuesday, the pattern resurfaced. Missouri’s offense looked inept for the first few minutes, allowing Mississippi State to jump out to an early lead. The Tigers never really threatened to overcome the lead, falling 72-45.

Missouri turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions, and on one of the others, the trip ended in a Mitchell Smith corner three-point attempt that hit the side of the backboard. It took just 4:36 for Mississippi State to build a 10-point lead. Missouri didn’t reach double digits until more than 14 minutes into the game.

Missouri briefly looked like it might make the game interesting at the start of the second half, starting the period on a 9-4 run, but Mississippi State ultimately pulled back away. Head coach Cuonzo Martin will hope Tuesday’s start was a blip and not the start of a trend like we saw earlier in the season.

Cuonzo Martin saw his Missouri team start slow and never make the game interesting in a 27-point loss at Mississippi State.
Cuonzo Martin saw his Missouri team start slow and never make the game interesting in a 27-point loss at Mississippi State. (Jessi Dodge)

Turnovers plague Tigers

Speaking of an issue that resurfaced in a big way Tuesday, Missouri looked to be improving its ball security during its first three conference games. The Tigers won the turnover battle in all three matchups, averaging 11.3 giveaways per game during the stretch.

They surpassed that number in the first 20 minutes against Mississippi State, giving the ball away 13 times. Missouri finished the game with 19 turnovers. The Bulldogs took full advantage, scoring 22 points off the giveaways and 14 points on fast breaks. Missouri can almost never afford to give the ball away that many times, but especially when it only shoots 34.7 percent from the field.

No answer for Perry

Aside from points off turnovers, the main source of offense for Mississippi State was forward Reggie Perry. The 6-foot-10 sophomore scored 23 points on 9-13 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Perry’s performance continued a concerning trend for Missouri. In three of the team’s past four games, the Tigers have not had an answer for an opposing frontcourt player. Kentucky’s Nick Richards went for 21 points and 12 rebounds on Jan. 4, then Florida’s Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 22 on Saturday. The team overcame Blackshear’s performance with its own offense, but clearly without Jeremiah Tilmon in the lineup, the Tigers are vulnerable against big men who can stretch the floor. Don’t be surprised if future opponents look to exploit that.

Game at a Glance

CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: It’s over. Martin, who takes pride in his teams never quitting, in something else, will likely be livid, so maybe that kind of letdown won’t happen again. That’s about all we got.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Not only did Missouri lay an egg, it completely squashed whatever positive momentum had been built in the win over Florida. In that game, the Tigers scored more than 1.3 points per possession and shot better than 60 percent from the field and from three-point range. Tuesday, they mustered just .714 points per possession, shot 34.7 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range. All reasonable fans would have expected the Tigers to return to reality a bit after the offensive explosion, but certainly not to this level.

STOCK UP: Kobe Brown. The freshman was one of the few players who looked to be able to create good looks on the offensive end for Missouri. Brown finished with 14 points and four rebounds and hit two of four three-pointers. He’s not yet ready to carry the load offensively, but he’s showing promise of developing into a consistent, versatile scorer.

STOCK DOWN: The point guards. Xavier Pinson provided the spark against Florida with his poster dunk. Dru Smith carried the load from there, playing, in Mike White’s words, like an all-league guard. Three days later, the duo struggled mightily. Pinson was nearly invisible on the offensive end, missing all four of his shots and failing to score in 21 minutes. Smith scored just two points and turned the ball over four times. Missouri was outscored by 32 points when he was on the floor. The Tiger point guards are the only two consistent threats to drive to the basket and create easy scoring opportunities for themselves and others, so it’s no surprise that, when they played like this, Missouri as a whole struggled.

UP NEXT: Missouri (9-7) will face another road foe when it travels to Alabama (8-7) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.