Missouri had to energize and work for it, but the Tigers eventually subdued lowly South Carolina in Tuesday’s 83-74 win at Mizzou Arena.
Senior Kobe Brown recovered from a mediocre first half to play splendid basketball over the final 20 minutes, scoring 14 points and hitting every shot from the floor and the free-throw line. His final line: 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals. It was just what we’ve come to expect from Kobe.
The 6-7 Brown is a do-everything talent. He’s having a fantastic season. His game is a combination of muscle and aggression, sharp intelligence and instincts, and the ability to score in every way. Brown can drive to the rim, finesse three-point shots, pop pull-up jumpers, and lead the bull run when Mizzou is sprinting in transition. He does the grimy work to yank rebounds. His fast hands pluck steals. It’s really fun to watch him play.
I was curious about how Kobe Brown’s work compared to some of the better single-season performances in recent Mizzou history. The best I could do was use the search engine at the Sports Reference College Basketball site, which only goes back as far as the 1992-93 season. But that covers 31 seasons, and that’s plenty.
Here’s what I found:
— Over the last 31 seasons including the current campaign, only one Missouri player has assembled an all-purpose combination of at least 16 points, six rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
This unmatched model of versatility is Kobe Brown.
— And over the last 31 seasons, only one Missouri regular has made at least 57 percent of his shots from the floor, connected on 45 percent of his three-pointers, and converted 79.8 percent of his free-throw attempts.
The sharp shooter is Kobe Brown.
My goodness, what a special season for Kobe. I knew he was having a good season, but it’s much better than that.
Of course, Brown and the Tigers are 24 games into the season, including 11 in SEC play. The remaining schedule has seven SEC games and the conference tournament. If all goes reasonably well for MU, they’ll qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Brown must keep rolling to uphold the menu of statistics that represent his strong play in all aspects of the game. But so far he’s having a season that tops anything we’ve seen from a Mizzou player over the last three decades. The numbers prove it. The eye-test confirms it.
We can find disappointment if we look for it. Compared to his dominance at home, Brown hasn’t been nearly as effective on the road. But that can be said about many players in college basketball. The road is hard. And Missouri’s next two games will be played on the courts of two of the top 27 teams in the nation according to KenPom: No. 2 Tennessee and No. 27 Auburn.
Brown’s entire body of work is on display here – it includes the good and the bad – and it shows he’s worthy of the praise and recognition that comes with having a historically prominent season.
Kobe has distinguished himself on a national basis, and the metrics at KenPom back that up. Through Tuesday, on the list of the top 100 players in each category, Brown ranks 28th in effective field goal percentage, 16th in true shooting percentage, 36th in overall offensive rating, and is 47th in three-point shooting.
Brown will have to prove himself over and over again. He’ll take on the challenge of avoiding an extensive downturn to finish with a flourish. But so far in 2022-23, Brown is doing it all for the Tigers.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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All stats used here were sourced from College Basketball Reference.