Missouri Basketball: 3 Reasons the Tigers Are Struggling in SEC Play
Many people projected the Missouri Tigers to be one of the top teams in the SEC this season, even though it is their first year in the conference.
However, things have not gone as planned for Missouri so far through seven SEC games. With a 4-3 conference record, the Tigers are fifth in the SEC standings, which still puts them in the upper echelon of the league, but it is a far cry from the very top, which is where Mizzou was expected to be.
The Tigers are 4-0 at home in SEC play, but find themselves with an 0-3 record on the road. In fact, Missouri has yet to win a true road game on the season, as they lost their only other road game to UCLA in non-conference play back on December 28.
So why is Missouri playing so badly right now?
Why did they get blown out by Florida?
Why did they get stunned by the worst team in the SEC, the LSU Tigers?
Here are three reasons why Missouri has struggled so much in SEC play.
Phil Pressey Is a Point Guard, Not a Shooting Guard
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Is anybody tired yet of watching Phil Pressey shoot the ball so much?
Pressey is an outstanding distributor of the basketball, he drives the lane well, and he has a very good shot from inside the three-point line. The key word is inside. Outside the three-point line, Phil Pressey is a nightmare.
Pressey is six of 33 from three-point range in SEC play this year.
Now, it is not a problem that Phil is not a good three-point shooter. Obviously not everyone can shoot the three at a high percentage, but he needs to accept the fact that he is not a good shooter, and stop attempting so many three-point shots.
Why, when the game is on the line against UCLA and LSU, is Pressey dribbling up and shooting wild three-point shots?
All the three-point shots that Pressey takes are wasting possessions for the Tigers. If he gets open on the perimeter, then he should fire away, but he can't keep dribbling up and shooting a three right when he gets to the three point line.
These bad shots are basically the equivalent of turnovers, and they are absolutely killing the Missouri offense.
Earnest Ross Needs to Be More Consistent
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Jabari Brown and Laurence Bowers have shown that they are the two best scorers for the Tigers, but if Earnest Ross would play more consistently, he would be right up there with them
Ross is currently shooting at 39.2 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point land. The three-point shooting is solid, but the overall shooting of 39.2 percent is not that great.
The number is so low though, because Ross disappears for large portions of games. Ross went one of seven for three points against Mississippi. He went two for six against LSU for only seven points.
Why is he not shooting the ball more?
The Tigers need to focus on having Pressey take less shots, and instead have him try to get the ball into Earnest Ross' hands.
If he can get more shots off and get into the flow of the game better, his shooting percentage will go up, and it will increase the Tigers' offensive efficiency.
Shots Are Coming Too Easy for the Opposition
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The biggest problem for the Tigers is their defense.
They are simply allowing way to many easy shots for their opponents.
LSU was able to shoot 55.6 percent from the floor against the Tigers. Florida shot the ball at 59.3 percent from the floor. Louisville shot the ball at 49.2 percent. UCLA shot the ball at 50.6 percent.
The only game the Tigers lost when they played good defense was in their loss to Mississippi, when they held the Rebels to 39.3 percent shooting.
The Tigers need to get back to playing tough defense like they did during non-conference play.
They held numerous teams to the low thirties in terms of shooting percentage, including an Illinois team who at the time was crushing anyone who stepped in their way with a three-point barrage that ranked number one in the country.
Mizzou was able to hold Illinois to 25 percent shooting from behind the arc, and just 33.8 percent from the floor.
The Tigers are still doing a lot of things right, and they aren't that far off from being a really good team.
Pressey needs to take less three pointers and distribute the ball more to guys like Earnest Ross, and they need to start playing tough defense like they did throughout much of their non-conference schedule.