Kansas State: Know Your Rival

Game 1 of the Keep Kansas From Winning the Conference Tour tips off tonight in Mizzou Arena, where Mizzou will play in its second revenge game of the year.  The first one resulted in a 28-point road-to-home swing.  Tonight's will need to result in at least a 17-point swing for Mizzou to move to Game 2 in Lawrence on Sunday.

vs Big 12
Kansas State: 7-5

KSU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.69 1.73
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.03 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.15 1.37
2-PT FG% 45.3% 46.4%
3-PT FG% 36.2% 40.7%
FT% 66.5% 70.7%
True Shooting % 50.4% 56.3%
KSU Opp
Assists 147 163
Steals 75 69
Turnovers 170 181
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.31 1.28
KSU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 163 136
Offensive Rebounds 179 122
Difference +16 -14
  • Here's why stats are so interesting and entertaining--this line right here tells you everything you need to know about Kansas State.  They are a poor, poor shooting team that is occasionally careless with the ball, but they play solid pressure defense (BCI!) and crash the boards hard.
  • These Big 12 numbers should put into perspective just how far over their heads KSU played last time these teams met.  Needless to say, KSU's Big 12 numbers are at least slightly dampened by a poor start to conference play, but regardless--62.5% true shooting %, 54.5% from 3-point range?  Rare.  If Mizzou holds KSU to its conference-play shooting averages, they should be in control of this game.  If.
  • Mizzou will also have to shoot pretty well themselves, as they probably won't win the rebounding battle.  Frank Martin has a team whose offensive talent is focused mostly on just 2-3 players, but the whole team rebounds well, especially the bench guys.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Denis Clemente (Jr) 15.05 0.46 17.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.3 APG
Jacob Pullen (So) 9.78 0.30 12.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.6 APG
Darren Kent (Sr) 9.03 0.36 9.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG
Jamar Samuels (Fr) 8.75 0.43 7.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG
Fred Brown (So)
6.08 0.27 7.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.5 APG
Dominique Sutton (So)
5.73 0.26 5.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG
Luis Colon (Jr)
4.37 0.20 4.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG
Ron Anderson (So)
4.33 0.21 2.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Buchi Awaji (Jr) 3.47 0.45 2.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Chris Merriewether (Jr) 1.59 0.21 1.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG
Victor Ojeleye (Fr) -0.35 -0.53 2 minutes
Justin Werner (Fr) -0.53 -0.21 5 minutes

* 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.

  • Denis Clemente is the patented "crazy guy in a fight."  You don't really know what he's going to do, but you're not too enthusiastic about finding out.  He might drop 40 on you, he might decide somebody's cheap-shotting him when they're not, he might be a game-changer, he might be a non-factor.  No matter what, this will probably be a "Hey JT Tiller, I want to know what kind of chewing gum Mr. Clemente is chewing," situation.
  • Meanwhile, if you were to ask me where Jacob Pullen was from (and I didn't already know the answer), by looking at his stat line, I'd answer "Chicago" with no hesitation.  He's got that Chicago game--lots of shots, low shooting %, decent assist numbers, lots of turnovers, lots of steals, big juevos--that we've seen in quite a few guys over the years (most recently Stefhon Hannah and Patrick Beverley).  He'll shoot KSU into a game, and then shoot them out of itHe's not lacking in confidence, though, and KSU's identity is somewhat a reflection of his.
  • Jamar Samuels is an interesting freshman.  He doesn't take a lot of shots (0.26 per minute), but he's efficient with the ball, and he'll be the best offensive rebounder on the court tonight.  He averages 0.12 OR's per minute--for comparison, Mizzou's best in that category (Keith Ramsey) only averages 0.09.
  • KSU's front line--Kent and Colon--are rather offensively challenged (big men usually average in the 1.30-1.50 points per shot range--Kent averages 1.17, Colon 0.98), but they're very good at rebounding and muscling guys around.  Though DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons both ended up with decent stats last time around, while the game was actually close Kent and Colon were neutralizing the two well enough for KSU's guards to get away with overplaying the ball against Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller, who combined for 8 turnovers.

Keys to the Game

  1. Turnovers.  Mizzou is a BCI team--it is very rare that they have more turnovers than their opponent, but led by the 8 from Tiller and Taylor, that's exactly what they encountered in Bramlage almost exactly a month ago.  (The Tigers haven't lost for almost a month??  Damn!)  KSU had a wonderful gameplan of getting into Mizzou's comfort zone before Mizzou could do the same.  It worked in Manhattan, but it's much less likely to work a second time now that Mizzou knows it's coming.

    It's Tiller/Taylor vs Clemente/Pullen, and whoever controls the ball better, wins.

  2. The first 15 minutesAverage halftime score of a Mizzou loss: Opponents 38, Mizzou 26.  Average halftime score of a Mizzou win: Mizzou 40, Opponents 29.  Average score at the 15-minute mark of the last three Mizzou losses: Opponents 27, Mizzou 16.  If you're going to strike Mizzou, strike early.

  3. The 3-pointer.  That's right, two of the three keys are the same as those from the Colorado game

    Mizzou's perimeter defense has been outstanding in conference play--opponents have only hit 66 of 215 3-pointers against them (30.7%).  Without the first KSU game, that number falls to 28.0%.  K-State hit 12 of 22 3-pointers at Bramlage (Jacob Pullen and Fred Brown: 10-for-14).  They hit 9-of-12 during a stretch late in the first half and early in the second half, when the game was salted away.

    There's no question that KSU has improved since the beginning of conference season, but the unmissable 3's were the main reason I called the trip to Bramlage "just one of those games."  And that's fine if it was just one of those games...as long as it doesn't happen again.  KSU makes 30% (or less) of their 3-pointers, Mizzou probably wins.

Prediction

I've got two conflicting feelings going on about this game.  First, the game in Manhattan was more out of character for KSU than Mizzou.  They're not a wonderful shooting team, but they couldn't miss that night, and Mizzou had an uncharacteristic number of turnovers.  If both teams play an average game, Mizzou wins.

However, there's no question that K-State is a team that simply matches up very well with Mizzou.  Some teams do, some don't...KSU does.  They have confident, aggressive (and sometimes crazy) guards and a couple of strong bigs who can push DeMarre and Leo around a bit.  While I think Mizzou will win this game--the revenge factor is strong, Mizzou plays extremely well at home, etc.--due to matchups things will probably be pretty tight (unless Pullen and Clemente hit an extremely cold stretch).

K-State hasn't played wonderfully since beating MU and Texas, back-to-back, in late-January to salvage their season.  Pretty or not, though, they've continued to win.  Overall, they've won 7 of 8 conference games and continue to fight for their NCAA Tourney lives.  You never want to fight a desperate and crazy guy, and that's how KSU is looking right now.  That said, Mizzou's depth and home court advantage are too much.  Mizzou finally starts to pull away around the 6:00 or 8:00 mark of the second half and wins it, 79-71.

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