After a disappointing 0-2 performance in Kansas City, Missouri’s inconsistent offensive production is the team’s primary concern.
The Tigers are shooting 44% from the field overall and struggling from behind the arc, shooting just 27% as a team. While Missouri’s defense will keep it in a lot of games, its offense, ranked 94th in offensive efficiency per KenPom, needs to improve if the Tigers want to make the NCAA Tournament.
Tuesday night’s game at home against Charleston Southern (2-5) gives Cuonzo Martin’s team a good chance to build some confidence.
The Buccaneers are allowing 78.6 points per game, and while they defeated Delaware State 71-61 in their last game, they lost their previous six games by double digits, including two 40-plus point losses against Michigan State and Furman. Charleston Southern has shooting woes of its own, making just 36% of its field goals and a dismal 21% from 3-point distance.
Charleston Southern has never played Missouri, but has faced SEC foes in the past, defeating Ole Miss 66-65 back in 2014 in Oxford.
After finishing last season winning 10 of its last 13 games, Charleston Southern entered this season with momentum, bringing back 11 players. However, the Buccaneers lost their best player, star guard Christian Keeling (18.7 ppg last season), to North Carolina as a graduate transfer.
Sophomore guard Dontrell Shuler leads the Buccaneers in scoring with 18.8 ppg while junior wing Phlandrous Fleming Jr. is averaging 9.9 ppg and grabbing 7.6 rebounds per game.
A tough early season schedule that included the Maui on the Mainland tournament has not been kind to the Buccaneers, which rank 312th in the country according to KenPom — only Incarnate Word ranks lower among Missouri’s previous opponents.
In a game it will be expected to win comfortably, Missouri will be looking to get off to a fast start offensively after falling behind by double digits against both Butler and Oklahoma.
The Tigers showed some signs of life shooting the basketball against Oklahoma. Most notably sophomore wing Torrence Watson made 3 out of his 5 shots from behind the arc, a welcome sign for a player the Tigers were relying on to be a classic “3 and D” wing.
Missouri’s three point shooting has tumbled from 78th in the country last season to No. 327 through seven games this year. With the Buccaneers allowing opponents to shoot 35% from 3-point distance this season, Missouri will hope it takes another step forward before a tough road game Saturday at Temple.
Anything less than a comfortable win Tuesday will likely qualify as a disappointment for Martin’s team. After a rocky 4-3 start to nonconference play, this is the type of game Missouri cannot afford to lose as it looks to build up some wins ahead of SEC play in January.