Texas Tech: Know Your Rival (quickly)

I don't know if I actually know how to throw together one of these previews quickly (once I get started, it soon goes to 'full-sized preview'), but I'm going to try.  Lots going on today.

First, a quick look back at the first MU-TT meeting, a 97-86 Mizzou win (one of the closer games at Mizzou Arena this season).  Tech's offense (1.04 points per possession) and offensive rebounding kept them in the game, but Mizzou was too efficient (1.17 points per possession) and forced too many turnovers (29) for Tech to keep up.  DeMarre Carroll scored 27, and JT Tiller (who, it's safe to say, will now be matched up with Mike Singletary anytime they're both on the court) had 7 thefts.  Robert Lewandoski led a balanced Tech attach (five guys in double figures).

In other words, Tech's size matched Mizzou's pressure for a while, and they match up relatively well with the Tigers.

vs Big 12
Texas Tech: 4-13

Tech Opp
Points Per Minute
1.85 1.99
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.04 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.30 1.40
2-PT FG% 47.2% 50.8%
3-PT FG% 37.3% 35.6%
FT% 74.8% 73.1%
True Shooting % 55.3% 57.3%
Tech Opp
Assists 243 219
Steals 89 134
Turnovers 247 211
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.34 1.67
Tech Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 208 208
Offensive Rebounds 169 192
Difference -39 -16
  • Where Tech's good: 3-point shooting, Defensive Rebounding.
  • Where Tech's not as good: Defense, Offensive Rebounding (other than the first Mizzou game).
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Alan Voskuil (Sr) 15.50 0.41 13.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
John Roberson (So) 13.74 0.38 13.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.0 SPG
Mike Singletary (So) 13.23 0.60 13.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.5 APG
Nick Okorie (Jr) 10.02 0.39 11.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG
Robert Lewandowski (Fr) 7.97 0.39 8.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG
Michael Prince (Sr) 4.77 0.27 3.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG
D'Walyn Roberts (So) 3.55 0.29 2.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG
Rodrick Craig (Sr) 1.25 0.19 3.1 PPG, 1.0 RPG
Wally Dunn (So) 1.25 1.67 3 minutes
Damir Suljagic (Sr) 0.94 0.09 2.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Esmir Risvic (Sr) 0.82 0.08 1.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG
Darko Cohadarevic (Jr) 0.16 0.02 2.2 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Corbin Ray (Fr) 0.15 0.03 0.6 PPG
Trevor Cook (Jr) -3.34 -0.37 9 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.

  • What happens when you average 11 points per conference game, then put up a total in the mid-40s?  Your average goes up by about two points per game.  Suddenly, not only are Voskuil and Roberson averaging in the 13's...so is Singletary.
  • Singletary's been a shot in the arm all year with his 0.60 AdjGS/min.
  • Tech seems to either be a big, good rebounding, bad offensive team with guys like Lewandoski, Suljagic and Risvic in the lineup; or they can be a small, four-guard, offensively efficient, poor rebounding team with Voskuil, Roberson, Okorie and Singletary all in the game.  Pat Knight has a decision to make--does he go big to try to maximize the rebounding advantage, or does he go small to limit the turnovers?

Keys to the Game

  1. Foul Trouble.  Tech has proven they can beat just about anybody when one of their perimeter players gets smoking hot.  That goes for just about any team in a major conference team, really, but the fact that two different players (Voskuil, Singletary) have gotten really hot in the last three games shows that Tech is dangerous in their unpredictability.

    For Mizzou, the key to stopping Tech will simply be keeping J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor out of foul trouble.  They are great perimeter defenders--better than anybody ATM has--and they should (should--it's not a guarantee) be able to keep one of Tech's guards from getting hot from long range.  But if Tiller picks up two quick fouls, and if the perimeter officiating is super-tight, this could be a problem.

    Then again, it could also be a problem for Tech.  Singletary averages 0.11 fouls per minute.  If he's either not hot or on the bench with foul trouble, then Mizzou can focus more on Voskuil (or maybe Roberson...whoever's hottest).

  2. The 3-pointer.  If Tech goes 15-for-25 from 3-point range, they have a very good shot of beating Missouri.  If they go 7-for-22, they don't.  If Mizzou goes 9-for-17, they win.  If they go 4-for-18, they might not.

    Actually, that goes for more than just 3-point shooting.  Mizzou's shooting is contagious--when one person gets hot, everybody does.  Tech doesn't have nearly the interior defense that a Kansas or Texas A&M does, and if Mizzou gets looks inside and makes them, that usually opens up the outside shot.  If they're forced out of their comfort zone and start laying bricks, Tech's going to hang around.  And you don't want a streaky-shooting team to hang around.

  3. Turnovers.  Always.  Tech had 29 turnovers last time these two teams played.  Get that number under 20, and they might have won.

Prediction

It seems that about 80% of basketball success is confidence, and there's no questioning that Tech is more confident right now than at any point in the season.  Combine that with the fact that they were competitive in Columbia about six weeks ago, and you could say Mizzou's in for a battle.

Really, though, more than confidence this game is about margin for error.  Mizzou has a lot more of it.  If Tech limits their turnovers, and somebody gets hot from long range, and they rebound well, they can beat Mizzou.  If Mizzou plays their game on offense and limits open looks, they will beat Tech.  Mizzou 81, Tech 73.

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