Here we are Mizzou Nation, the first loss of the season. We knew it was bound to happen at some point, unless you thought they would go undefeated, in which case you should probably get checked out. It was a bad loss, but one Mizzou can learn from and I think they will. There are three key reasons why this early season loss shouldn’t cause anyone to hit the panic button.
Reason 1 – No Michael Porter Jr.
This is an obvious one but one that should be addressed. Not having a guy that could potentially go number one overall in the NBA Draft on the court puts you at a distinct disadvantage. They made it work against Iowa State and Wagner but Utah is a much better team than those two. The injury itself is alarming. At first it was an event where Cuonzo Martin took him out of the season opener two minutes in for precautionary reasons. It didn’t seem like much other than not wanting to aggravate the injury. He then sits against Wagner, which is still understandable. With a bigger game on the horizon later in the week there is no reason to rush him out there. But not traveling with the team to Utah is where we start to get concerned. The most recent report I’ve seen is from ESPN which still has him listed as day-to-day. But the comment at the end from Cuonzo Martin that we’ll, “find out more when we get home.” is a little alarming. Every mention of the severity of his injury is pure speculation at this point.
Reason 2 – You should expect this
This is a very young and virtually new team. I made the comment before the season started that early on they are going to lose some games that they shouldn’t. Well here we are. Not to discredit Utah, I’m not saying we should’ve won this game. But it should’ve been a lot closer than it was. Finding out how to gel together is going to take some time. On an individual note, Jeremiah Tilmon has got to get better. Against Wagner, he fouled out in TEN MINUTES of play, that’s bad. Against Utah, SIX MINUTES. It took him six minutes on the floor to foul out. That is one of the worst stats I’ve ever seen in my life. If you don’t think teams in the future are going to see that stat and try to exploit that, you are incredibly optimistic.
Reason 3 – Just a bad shooting night
Every team that has ever played basketball has these nights. It was just a night where shots simply were not falling. Mizzou shot 60% from the field in the first two games of the season. Against Utah they shot 34.6% from the field and 18.5% from three. That’s largely in part to shooting 48% in the second half, they shot just 20% in the first half. That’s next level bad. In fact, it took 3:05 for either team to put points on the board. Up to the point of having 4:18 left in the half, the largest deficit they faced was 6 points, so there’s no reason to force shots to try to get back in the game. With as many offensive weapons as they have, that’s not going to be the norm.
Overall, it was a bad night for Mizzou basketball. Your best player is hurt, arguably your best big man only plays 6 minutes, and you have an atrocious shooting percentage. All cause for concern, but you can work, learn, and improve on all of them. It was a tough night, but no one should be overly concerned about Mizzou basketball.