Missouri’s biggest opponent on Friday night and throughout last season wasn’t the opposing team, but the Tigers’ inability to take care of the basketball.
The Tigers had 25 turnovers in their 76-59 loss at Iowa State and spotted the Cyclones 25 points as a result.
Turnovers hampered the Tigers throughout last season and played a crucial role in five of Missouri’s 13 losses that were within two-possessions. On Friday, Iowa State wasn’t the only old foe that the Tigers’ faced.
The Tigers’ struggled to take care of the ball immediately, committing four turnovers in the games’ opening minutes.
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Sophomore center Jeremiah Tilmon struggled to control the ball, which led to a pair of early turnovers and freshman Javon Pickett threw a pass right into an Iowa State defender’s hands.
Missouri’s troubles started to mount when freshman point guard Xavier Pinson threw a pair of no-look passes to Mitchell Smith and Reed Nikko and neither expected them coming.
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said after the game that he didn’t have a problem with Pinson’s passing, since that’s an integral part of his game, but thought some of them could have been delivered differently.
Martin didn’t think Pinson was trying to get too fancy as an underclassman or thought his turnovers were because of a lack of chemistry.
“He has that in his game,” Martin said. “One, he hit Mitch he should have bounce-passed it. I had no problem with the pass but thought it should have been a bounce instead of a head pass.”
Through Missouri’s first two games last year, the team had 33 turnovers, with 17 coming against the Cyclones in last year’s season-opener. This season Missouri is only up slightly with 36 turnovers through its first two contests.
Last season, Missouri had 21 turnovers in games against Stephen F. Austin, Illinois and against Mississippi. Missouri came out victorious against the Lumberjacks and lost to the Illini and Rebels.
Missouri’s turnover percentage was 35.5 percent against Iowa State on Friday night, the program’s highest rating in a game during the KenPom era, which dates back to the 2001-02 season.
Martin attributed the turnovers from the first 10 minutes of the game to having a young, inexperienced team playing in a tough road environment and considered most of them self-inflicted.
Because of the earliness in the season, he didn’t want to compare last year’s turnover issues to the ones displayed on Friday.
“It’s a new year, but some of them, just watching without watching film, lot of unforced,” he said. “It was not as if their team was pressing. It was more of us. We had some turnovers offensively just trying to make plays.”
On Friday, the Tigers had 15 turnovers in the first half against Iowa State Missouri’s start to the second half was identical to the first as senior point guard Jordan Geist had the ball stolen on a pass intended for Kevin Puryear.
Tilmon lead Missouri with five turnovers while Pickett, Pinson and Mitchell Smith each had five.
“At one point it just seemed like it was just one after another,” Puryear said.
Last year, Missouri’s turnover issue wasn’t magnified until the team blew a late lead against West Virginia in the Advocare Invitational and turned the ball over 20 times in a 83-79 loss.
The Tigers’ holiday tournament last season proved to be a sign of things to come with turnover issues. Missouri now has a week to fix things before opening Paradise Jam play against Kennesaw State next Friday.
“We need more focus when we take care of the ball,” Puryear said.