Colorado: Know Your Rival

Hopefully Mizzou's not as rusty tomorrow as I was...one bye, and I'm already out of the habit to do a stat preview!

As always, these numbers are based off of conference play only.

vs Big 12
Colrorado: 1-10

CU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.44 1.73
Points Per Possession (PPP)
0.94 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.25 1.39
2-PT FG% 46.4% 55.6%
3-PT FG% 34.3% 39.3%
FT% 76.5% 65.0%
True Shooting % 53.6% 59.3%
CU Opp
Assists 101 176
Steals 80 72
Turnovers 163 152
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.11 1.63
CU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 113 110
Offensive Rebounds 89 109
Difference -24 -1
  • Where Colorado is decent: Steals, Defensive Rebounds, 3-point shooting.
  • Where Colorado is...less than decent: 2-point shooting, offensive rebounds, defense, passing, ball control of any kind.  (I figured listing them out was less rude than saying "everything else.")
  • Despite the fact that their stats are not so hot (they're 1-10, so uhh...yeah, few 1-10 teams have good stat lines), there's absolutely no question that they've been playing better recently.  Four of their last five games have been very respectable--55-53 loss to Nebraska, 77-72 loss at Oklahoma, 70-42 loss at Iowa State (ahem), OT loss to Texas, 46-41 loss at Nebraska.  I'm not going to try to convince you that this is a good team, but they're certainly getting better.  They only have one senior in the rotation (19th-year senior Jermyl Jackson-Wilson), and he doesn't contribute much.  I'm not sure if they have the talent or athleticism to move too far up the ladder in coming years, but they're only going to get more experienced, and Jeff Bzdelik is at least a competent coach.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Cory Higgins (So) 20.28 0.54 17.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.4 APG
Dwight Thorne II (Jr)
15.22 0.42 14.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.5 APG
Ryan Kelley (Fr)
11.63 0.80 Two games, then injured
Austin Dufault (Fr)
7.48 0.23 8.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG
Jermyl Jackson-Wilson (Sr)
6.46 0.28 5.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 APG
Nate Tomlinson (Fr)
3.33 0.10 5.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
Levi Knutson (So)
1.80 0.13 2.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Javon Coney (So)
0.27 0.03 1.0 PPG, 1.6 RPG
Toby Veal (Fr)
0.00 0.00 0.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG
Trey Eckloff (Fr)
-0.12 -0.01 2.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG

Casey Crawford (So)

-1.40 -0.18 0.7 PPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It does the same thing my previous measure of choice did (it takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game), only the formula is more used and accepted.  The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Cory Higgins is an emerging stud, though he had an...interesting game the first time around against Mizzou.  He scored 12 points on 3-for-9 shooting and had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals...and 4 turnovers.  He's scored in double digits all but once this season, and he ripped off 34 points against Texas Tech last weekend.  He's more of a slasher than a bomber, and he's outstanding from the FT line.
  • Fortunately, after Higgins and (maybe) Dwight Thorne, CU still doesn't have a lot to offer.  Austin Dufault is the closest thing to an inside threat for the Buffs, but at 6'8, 210, the freshman needs a little more beef if he's going to contain either Leo Lyons or DeMarre Carroll.
  • Ryan Kelley's got a super-strange stat line.  He was CU's leader the first time around against Missouri, scoring 19 points in 19 junk minutes off the bench, but he tweaked his knee in practice and hasn't played since January 17.  He was supposedly cleared to practice a week or two ago, but I don't know what his status is.
  • We'll find out how much experience is truly a benefit because freshman Nate Tomlinson has gotten a ton of minutes this season...and done almost nothing with them.  Will his development be helped by this?  Hurt?  Either way, when a starter on your team is averaging 0.10 GS/min, you're probably not that great.

Keys to the Game

  1. Rust.  Self-explanatory.  Mizzou's had a week to pat themselves on the back for winning a bunch of games and finding themselves in the Top 10.  I figure Mike Anderson has tried to run the satisfaction out of them in practice this week, but there's always the potential for rust or hangover here.  If Mizzou shows up and plays decent, they probably win...but they need to show up and play decent because CU will be playing hungry.

  2. Turnovers.  Turnovers important in a Missouri game?  Wha??  Last time around, Colorado had 26 turnovers and a 0.65 BCI.  Not good.  Even if they had shot well (and they didn't), they'd have still lost by 25 with those ball control numbers.  But they shot horribly and lost by 45 instead.  They've been shooting better recently, but it won't matter unless they keep their turnovers under at least 20.  It's been pretty hard to do that against Mizzou lately.

  3. 3-pointers.  CU likely won't be able to do much to stop Mizzou inside--without Leo Lyons last time around (that's right, remember that Mizzou won by 45 without Leo??), Mizzou's frontcourt scored 47 points (DeMarre 13, Laurence Bowers 16, Justin Safford 13, Keith Ramsey 5), and Colorado just doesn't have the beef to make Carroll, Lyons, etc., uncomfortable up front.  But if a home team starts making 3's, look out. 

    Nate Tomlinson has hit 15-for-31 from long-range in conference play (it's the one thing he does well), while Dwight Thorne has hit 21-of-46, Cory Higgins 11-of-32.  Chances are, they'll be taking a ton of 3's tomorrow.  If they're making them, it's a ballgame.

Prediction

PAIN!!!!

Okay, kidding.  There's no question that Colorado has been playing better, and it's enough to make me slightly paranoid about tomorrow.  But I have to lean back on the fact that the teams that have beaten Missouri have managed two things--limited turnovers and great defense.  Colorado might be able to limit the turnovers (doubtful), but they have not proven themselves capable of slowing down Missouri's athletes.  I'm still a hair paranoid, because that's just who I am, but Mizzou should be able to overwhelm Colorado with athleticism even if CU's making some shots.  CU will be all sorts of motivated here, and I say it stays pretty close for a while.  But until a team can weather the mid-second half storm that Mizzou inflicts, I'm sticking with the Tigers.  Mizzou 74, Colorado 59.

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