Know Your (Temporary) Rival: Georgia Bulldogs (and UMKC wrap-up)

Damn awful bowl games, ends of decades, and horribly slow Mediacom internet ... getting in the way of my basketball writing schedule.  I had the UMKC wrap-up about 80% done two days ago and never got around to finishing it, so we'll stick it in the Georgia preview I meant to finish yesterday...how's that sound?  Good?  Good.

Georgia: 7-4

UGa Opp
Points Per Minute
1.63 1.55
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.03 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.24 1.12
2-PT FG% 46.8% 44.1%
3-PT FG% 32.6% 34.2%
FT% 70.4% 76.3%
True Shooting % 52.3% 50.4%
UGa Opp
Assists/Gm 12.5 10.5
Steals/Gm 7.2 6.6
Turnovers/Gm 13.6 12.5
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.45 1.37
UGa Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 129 133
Offensive Rebounds 118 113
Difference -11 -20


Ken Pomeroy Stats

UGa Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
UGa Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 141 11 MU big
Effective FG% 219 20 MU big
Turnover % 180 1 MU big
Off. Reb. % 78 273 UGa big
FTA/FGA 76 165 UGa
MU Offense vs UGa Defense Ranks
MU Offense UGa Defense Advantage
Efficiency 40 122 MU
Effective FG% 35 96 MU
Turnover % 76 246 MU big
Off. Reb. % 101 82 UGa
FTA/FGA 294 12 UGa big


Where the Dawgs are best

This is a big, physical team.  They rebound well, especially on defense (they vastly outrebounded an Illinois team that outrebounded Mizzou), and they play in control, drawing quite a few fouls and not committing a ton.  This is clearly going to be a challenge for Mizzou's skinny post players, and if Mizzou's shooters can't get going, at least early on, Georgia could be in pretty good position to either win this game or keep it competitive for a long time.

Where the Dawgs are weakest

In all areas not involving rebounding or fouls, this is a subpar team.  They play at a slow pace, but it doesn't help to get them too many makeable shots.  They turn the ball over quite a bit, and they're pretty poor at forcing any turnovers of their own (in other words, they're average at best in terms of BCI).  Overall, clearly this team is still a work in progress, but their biggest strengths coincide with Mizzou's biggest weaknesses, and if matchups matter, they might be in good shape to make this a game.

UGa's Season to Date

  • Wins (in order of KenPom rankings)
    #51 Illinois (70-67)
    #97 St. Louis (64-56)
    #190 Florida Atlantic (77-60)
    #224 Jacksonville State (67-64)
    #251 Pepperdine (64-47)
    #309 New Orleans (67-59)
    #331 UNC-Asheville (79-58)
  • Losses
    at #33 UAB (56-72)
    at #42 Virginia Tech (62-74)
    at #68 St. John's (56-66)
    #124 Wofford (57-60)

Solid and getting better at home ... not so much on the road.  They've been at least reasonably competitive on the road, but they haven't ended up staying within single digits in their trips to Birmingham, Blacksburg and NYC.  This is the sign of a young, growing team, and Georgia is definitely that.

UGa Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Trey Thompkins (6'10, 247, So.) 16.1 0.55 29.1 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 3.1 TOPG
Travis Leslie (6'4, 202, So.) 13.6 0.55 24.6 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.0 TOPG
Ricky McPhee (6'1, 184, Sr.) 9.9 0.34 29.0 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 TOPG
Dustin Ware (5'11, 182, So.) 8.1 0.28 29.1 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 3.1 APG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.6 TOPG
Jeremy Price (6'8, 264, Jr.) 7.0 0.38 18.4 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 TOPG
Chris Barnes (6'8, 240, Jr.) 4.5 0.28 15.9 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Albert Jackson (6'11, 265, Sr.) 4.3 0.27 15.9 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.2 TOPG
Ebukea Anyaorah (6'4, 194, Fr.) 1.9 0.22 8.7 MPG, 2.2 PPG
Demario Mayfield (6'4, 190, Fr.) 0.5 0.06 8.5 MPG, 1.1 PPG
Drazen Zlovaric (6'9, 210, So.) 0.4 0.04 11.6 MPG, 1.6 PPG
Vincent Williams (6'0, 160, Fr.) 0.0 0.00 10.9 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 1.2 APG
Tyler Whatley (6'7, 220, Sr.) 10 minutes
Matt Bucklin (6'0, 170, So.) 6 minutes

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • This team uses up to 11 men in the rotation, and only two of them are seniors.  Three of their top four are sophomores.  In other words, things are looking pretty good long-term for Nevada transplant Mark Fox in his first year.
  • Trey Thompkins is a nightmare matchup for Mizzou.  Despite Georgia playing at a really slow pace (65 possessions per game, 304th in the country), he's averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.  He takes a ton of shots (0.46 per minute, at a slow pace), draws quite a few free throws, and makes 74% of his free throws.  He's well-rounded offensively, but he's actually only average on the offensive glass (probably because he is doing most of the shooting) but is a rock defensively.  (He also averages 3.1 turnovers per game, so that might be where MIzzou gets an advantage.)
  • Interesting note: UGa has FOUR players averaging at least one block per game -- Thompkins 1.5, Albert Jackson 1.3, Chris Barnes 1.2, Travis Leslie 1.0.  Blocks are available against Mizzou, so we'll see how that plays out.
  • Mizzou might be able to derive an advantage in terms of backcourt size.  Dustin Ware and Ricky McPhee are both 6'1 or under, 185 pounds or under.  Zaire Taylor, J.T. Tiller and Marcus Denmon will have the size advantage here and may be able to push them around a bit.  This backcourt is also quite thin -- McPhee and Ware both average 29 minutes per game, while Travis Leslie averages 25.  After that?  Vincent Williams at 10.9.  They will go with McPhee, Ware and Leslie as long as they possibly can.

Alright, let's shift gears back to UMKC for a moment.

Mizzou 91, UMKC 57

Mizzou
UMKC
Points Per Minute
2.28 1.43
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.11 0.70
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.42 1.08
2-PT FG% 56.3% 45.9%
3-PT FG% 25.0% 18.8%
FT% 71.4% 56.0%
True Shooting % 57.3% 44.5%
Mizzou UMKC
Assists 16 7
Steals 10 4
Turnovers 21 25
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.24 0.44
Mizzou UMKC
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13 14
Offensive Rebounds 16 9
Difference +3 -5

 

  • After the Austin Peay game saw Mizzou start horribly on defense but make every shot they took, UMKC saw the opposite.  Mizzou could not buy a bucket, missing their first nine shots, I believe; but UMKC couldn't stop turning the ball over, and at least some of that (though not all) was due directly to Mizzou's defense.  Defense kept things going until the offense got hot ... and then the offense got hot, and the game got out of hand very quickly.
  • In the end, the shooting was almost an encouraging thing -- they made only 25% of their 3-pointers (and turned the ball over 21 times to boot) but still could have won by 45 if they wanted to.  That's a) how good their defense was, and b) what happens when this team vastly wins the rebounding battle.  It happens rarely, but I'd be willing to bet that Mizzou's all but unbeatable when it does.
  • A 1.24 BCI is about as low as you'll see from Mizzou ... but a 0.44 BCI is about as low as you can possibly get.  That's what happens with a 7-to-25 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Player Stats

Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 21.0 1.23 17 Min, 17 Pts (5-for-5 FG), 6 Reb, 2 TO
Marcus Denmon 14.2 0.71 20 Min, 14 Pts (3-for-11 FG, 2-for-5 3PT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast
Zaire Taylor 8.3 0.41 20 Min, 10 Pts (3-for-5 FG), 2 Reb
Tyler Stone 8.1 0.90 9 Min, 8 Pts (4-for-4 FG)
Kim English 8.0 0.47 17 Min, 11 Pts (4-for-8 FG, 2-for-5 3PT), 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 TO
Keith Ramsey 7.4 0.34 22 Min, 4 Pts (2-for-3 FG), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 Blk
Mike Dixon 7.0 0.39 18 Min, 7 Pts (2-for-7 FG, 0-for-2 3PT), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 TO
Justin Safford 6.9 0.43 16 Min, 7 Pts (3-for-11 FG), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl
Steve Moore 5.0 0.63 8 MIn, 3 Pts (1-for-1 FG), 5 Reb (2 Off), fouled out somehow
J.T. Tiller 4.3 0.25 17 Min, 5 Pts (2-for-2 FG), 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 TO
Miguel Paul 3.9 0.19 21 Min, 4 Pts (2-for-4 FG), 4 Reb
Jarrett Sutton -1.5 -0.19 8 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-2 3PT)
John Underwood -5.4 -0.77 7 Min, 1 Pt (0-for-0 FG), 2 Reb, 5 TO!
  • Just one of the stranger sets of stats you're ever going to see.  Laurence Bowers was dominant in the box score despite not really filling up the box score like he normally does and not taking just a ton of shots.  Of course, when you don't miss a shot, the points and overall stat quality come together pretty well.  He still doesn't take a ton of shots within the flow of the offense -- he scores mostly on fast breaks and putbacks -- and I still hope that improves in the future, but it's hard to find too much wrong with Party Starter's game against UMKC.  He even rewarded Tyler Stone for his Magic Johnson impersonation by throwing down a sick-even-for-him dunk near the end of the game.
  • Marcus Denmon couldn't buy a bucket, so he did what we hoped he would do -- get to the line and add up the points regardless.
  • That was the best effort and execution we've seen from Steve Moore.  I've been really hard on him this season, but it is very evident that he's got really soft hands for a big man, and when he's playing with a fire, he can have a strong impact on the boards.  But ... fouling out of a 30-point win?  In eight minutes?  Really?  Can't have much of an impact on a game if you're committing a foul every 96 seconds.  If he can be counted on to stay on the court a while, I could see him coming in handy against Thompson today, but ... can he?
  • I don't know if you meant to bank those two shots in, Tyler Stone, but if you did, god bless you.  For the season, Stone is shooting 60% (9-for-15) with at least three made bank shots.  Unique.  Plus, he averages a healthy 0.23 rebounds per minute.  I like it...
  • ...and if we could somehow combine Tyler Stone's offense with John Underwood's defense, we'd have ourselves a ridiculously high-upside player.  But the only thing more shocking than Steve Moore's five fouls in eight minutes was Underwood's five turnovers in seven minutes.  Holy moly.  All three of our reserve big men -- Moore, Stone, Underwood -- have something to offer, and if Mike Anderson can figure out who to use and when, this team's upside might tick up a smidge higher.

Keys to the (Georgia) Game

  1. Start Strong.  In the end, Mizzou had little trouble putting away either Austin Peay or UMKC, but in both games, only half of the team's game showed up, either offense or defense and not both.  Georgia is a team they obviously should beat -- they're young, they're not too great on the road, and they are average-at-best in the ball-handling battle -- but they should still be able to cause a few matchup problems on the inside, and if Mizzou starts slow on either side of the court, they'll give Georgia quite a bit of hope and momentum.

  2. Adapt.  Against UMKC, Mizzou proved that they can adapt to poor shooting and figure out how to score anyway.  They shot 35 free throws (making 25) and crashed the boards, and that was very encouraging.  For all we know, Mizzou will come out how and make 60% of their 3-pointers again, and if they do, great.  But if they don't, they cannot mess around and continue to bomb away.  Georgia is too good a defensive rebounding team to do that.  Mizzou's got enough depth and diversity in their game that they should be able to beat Georgia in a few different ways, as long as they don't get stuck continuing to try something that doesn't work.

  3. Hustle & Flow vs McPhee & Ware.  Obviously slowing down Trey Thompkins is goal #1 for Mizzou in this game, but this game could be decided in the backcourt.  Ricky McPhee and Dustin Ware form a decent backcourt -- 5.0 APG, 3.1 SPG, 2.8 TOPG, 36% 3PT, 79% FT.  They are statistically quite similar to J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor (5.7 APG, 3.3 SPG, 3.7 TOPG, 44% 3PT, 73% FT), but ... they're not Hustle & Flow.  Can McPhee/Ware play the same level of defense as Tiller/Taylor (and Dixon/Denmon)?  Can they prevent Mizzou's long-range shooters from getting off too many good shots while still controlling the game offensively?  This could be an even more interesting matchup than Thompkins vs. Whoever, and it could make as big an impact on the game.

Prediction

First of all, I have to point out that I came pretty damn close to nailing the UMKC game.  I picked 87-59, and the final score was 91-57.  So obviously I know what I'm talking about here, ahem.  With this game being at Mizzou Arena, I think Mizzou will have some decent success in speeding Georgia up more than the Bulldogs would like to go.  We'll say this game ends up in the 68-70 possession range, and Mizzou builds a nice cushion early in the second half.  We'll take Mizzou 79, Georgia 65 and ride off into conference season (after one more midweek cupcake).

UMKC: 87-59 (Actual: 91-57)

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