Oklahoma: Know Your Rival

So from the biggest game of the season, we go to the...new biggest game of the season.  Winner gets a chokehold on second place in conference when MU and OU tangle tonight.  How does MU match up?  Let's take a look...

vs Big 12
Oklahoma: 12-2

OU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.95 1.73
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.15 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.43 1.14
2-PT FG% 54.3% 45.2%
3-PT FG% 41.2% 33.6%
FT% 69.4% 68.4%
True Shooting % 60.1% 50.5%
OU Opp
Assists 204 173
Steals 78 77
Turnovers 196 161
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.44 1.55
OU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 152 189
Offensive Rebounds 150 170
Difference -2 -19
  • What OU's good at: shooting, efficiency, defensive rebounding.  Their offense runs through Blake Griffin (when he's out there), and running the ball through him likely means either an easy dunk/layup or open 3-pointer more often than not.  Pick your poison.
  • What OU's not as good at: Forcing turnovers, turning the ball over.  Their BCI number of 1.44 is decent--they seem to be a high risk, high reward passing team with lots of assists and turnovers--but their 1.55 BCI allowed is simply too high.  Like KU, they have a solid FG% defense, but because they're not forcing many turnovers, they're allowing teams to take a lot of shots...minimizing the advantage of the opponent's poor FG%.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Blake Griffin 22.88 0.69 21.8 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 BPG
Willie Warren 12.21 0.38 13.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG
Taylor Griffin 11.28 0.39 9.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Austin Johnson 11.27 0.34 10.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.1 APG
Juan Pattillo 8.00 0.49 7.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.5 BPG
Tony Crocker 7.22 0.23 9.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG
Cade Davis 4.15 0.32 4.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.0 APG
Omar Leary 1.46 0.18 1.6 PPG, 1.1 APG
Ryan Wright 1.11 0.14 1.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG
Beau Gerber 0.73 0.73 4 minutes
Orlando Allen 0.33 0.16 14 minutes
Ray Willis -0.17 -0.17 3 minutes
T.J. Franklin -1.19 -0.59 6 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.

  • Fun stat for fans of Laurence Bowers: Bowers and Blake Griffin average the same AdjGS per minute (0.69).  Cool, huh?  Of course, Griffin does it for 33 minutes a game while facing constant double- (or triple) teams.  Bowers does it for 7 minutes a game while wandering around the court as the team's #4 offensive option.  But hey...why pick nits?  Bowers = Griffin!!!!

    (Yes, I'm playing around there.)
  • Something encouraging: OU has four guys who average over 30 minutes per game (B. Griffin, Johnson, Crocker, Warren).  That's advantageous for Mizzou because either a) Jeff Capel tries to spell them a bit more, meaning more minutes for inexperienced backups in a hostile environment, or b) Capel plays them the normal amount, and they're exhausted with 8 minutes left.
  • Blake Griffin has a very high turnover rate (0.11 per minute), and Mizzou MUST exploit that.  He's going to get his points and rebounds--he just needs to also have a handful of wasted, empty possessions.
  • Taylor Griffin: glue guy.  When brother Blake went out against Texas, TG was one of the main catalysts for OU's second-half comeback (that, and Willie Warren hitting about 17 3's).  He does everything the team needs of him, be it scoring, or grabbing rebounds, or making stops.
  • Willie Warren is good, but really, Austin Johnson is equally important to OU's success.  Warren took over in Griffin's absence, and he looked great, Johnson is the point guard, the catalyst.  He's a streaky shooter, and he's got a great assist-turnover ratio.  When he's looking good, OU is unbeatable.  But he's prone to slumps, and it would behoove Mizzou if he had one tonight.
  • Cade Davis grew up in Elk City, OK.  It's a) one of my hometown's bigger rivals, and b) one of the only schools in the country whose team colors are brown and white.

    And while we're at it, former Mizzou baseballer James Boone grew up in Clinton, OK, my hometown's main rival.  Think of Clinton as Weatherford's KU, while Elk City is more like Weatherford's KSU.

    See?  You can't get information like this just anywhere.

Keys to the Game

  1. The number '3'.  As in, don't give up too many 3-pointers to OU's guards, and if you give up an easy dunk to Blake Griffin, don't be stupid and foul him to give him an easy 3-point play.  The number 2 is Mizzou's friend in this game.

    As key to OU's success as Blake Griffin clearly is, as important is that OU is shooting well from the 3-point line.  It seems like every game they play, one of their guards is on fire from downtown, be it Warren, or Johnson, or Crocker, or even Davis.  This makes sense, really.  Griffin gets double-teamed and swarmed just about every time he touches the ball, which means somebody's open somewhere.  And he's a highly underrated passer (his 0.07 assists per minute is pretty high for a big man), which means that OU will find that open man more often than not.  The balancing act is clear: you can't give BG easy baskets, but you can't abandon the guards because you will pay big.

    And if you do give up an easy basket to him, accept it.  Taking a desperate hack at him won't keep him from making the basket and embarrassing you, plus it will give him a free throw.  I see Justin Safford finding this out the hard way.

  2. The last five minutes of the first half.  I suggested before the second K-State game that it was the first 15 minutes that mattered, but really, when you think about it, it's what happens in that last portion of the half that matters most.  In Mizzou's five losses, they've been drastically outscored in the last five minutes of the half four times (11-3 vs Xavier, 11-6 vs Illinois, 15-6 vs Nebraska, 15-15 vs KSU and 11-5 vs KU).  That's a pretty visible trend right there.

    In some games, the "energy" unit of guys Mike Anderson likes to play at the end of a half--Laurence Bowers, Matt Lawrence, Keith Ramsey--is able to tread water (as against KU at home) or even cut a deficit (@Texas) or build a lead (KSU at home).  It's pretty clear that it is the last 5 minutes of the half, not the first 15, that have led to such a huge disparity between the halftime scores of Mizzou's wins and losses (Average halftime score of a Mizzou loss: Opponents 39, Mizzou 25.  Average halftime score of a Mizzou win: Mizzou 41, Opponents 29.).

  3. Okay, turnovers.  I was going to try not to mention them as a key this time, but...well, they're always a key.  If OU shoots reasonably well and ends up around the 15-turnover mark, they are in VERY good shape here.  But if they end up closer to 25, it might not matter how they shoot or how well Blake Griffin plays.  OU is extremely efficient on offense, but tipped passes and steals can muck that up in a hurry.

Prediction

For a while now, I've been much more confident about this game than a lot of people (and consequently less confident about the ATM game on Saturday).  I'm clearly not going to give up on that meme now.  If Mizzou can get 5-6 turnovers from Blake Griffin and generally muck up the passing lanes, their own offense should be efficient enough to outscore the Sooners.  However, if the 3's start draining for the Sooners, it's a seriously uphill battle.  Mizzou is 40 minutes away from an undefeated home record and at least momentary control of the #2 seed in the conference.  On Senior Night, DeMarre, Leo, and Goose (and Mikey Junior?) find a way to win this one.  The last five minutes of both halves belong to the Tigers.  Mizzou 79, Oklahoma 71.

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