Know Your Neutral Court Rival: Georgetown

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Like Mizzou football, Mizzou basketball has dodged a bullet or two in the season's early-going.  And like Mizzou football, everybody will forget all about the trouble if Mizzou basketball picks up the pace when the need arises.  For all intents and purposes, the season starts tonight for Mizzou.  If the Tigers can go at least 1-1 over the next three days (they basically go straight from Kansas City to Eugene for a Thursday night battle on the Forest Court with Oregon  CORRECTION: NO FOREST COURT /sadface), then we won't spend too much time worrying about the slow starts and droughts that have plagued the team so far.  But if those struggles were a foreboding sign, Mizzou will be exposed this week.

Georgetown: 6-0


G'Town
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
67.2
Points Per Minute
1.89
1.55
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14
0.93
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.34
1.15
2-PT FG% 53.2%
42.0%
3-PT FG% 44.4%
34.3%
FT% 65.2%
67.5%
True Shooting % 60.2%
49.4%




G'Town Opp.
Assists/Gm 18.2
11.2
Steals/Gm 6.8
7.5
Turnovers/Gm 14.8
13.2
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.69
1.42




G'Town Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 10.8
12.7
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 10.7
8.8
Difference -0.1
-3.9

If styles make fights, tonight's could be a doozy.  Georgetown and Mizzou each have distinct advantages, and they should jump off the page really quickly.  Despite iffy FT%, Georgetown is an incredible basketball team from a shooting percentage perspective.  With John Thompson III in charge, the Hoyas run the Princeton-style offense that is so beautiful when it is clicking.  Senior guard Chris Wright runs the show and finds open men for 3-pointer after 3-pointer.  When the defense has to over-play the perimeter, they'll start cutting inside and slicing you to death.  It's pretty when it's clicking, but it doesn't always click.  Georgetown is high-risk, high-reward from a passing standpoint, and they are vulnerable in the turnovers department.  They also don't go to the line a lot, which is a relief against a Missouri team that can send you to the line in droves if they are not careful.

On defense, Georgetown appears to simply play sound man defense, forcing you to take average-at-best shots, blocking out and holding you to one-and-done.  They aren't anything great on the offensive glass, but they are among the country's best on the defensive glass.  They do not force many turnovers (again, a relief considering Mizzou's occasional carelessness in this regard), but your jumpers better be falling against them.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

Georgetown Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

GU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 7
34
GU
Effective FG% 9
158
GU big
Turnover % 219
2
MU big
Off. Reb. % 79
85
push
FTA/FGA 322
210
MU big
MU Offense vs Georgetown Defense Ranks

MU Offense GU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 34
32
push
Effective FG% 118
80
GU
Turnover % 80
212
MU big
Off. Reb. % 61
16
GU
FTA/FGA 273
146
GU big

Where the Hoyas are weakest

From a Pomeroy perspective, Georgetown is weakest in a few offensive categories -- they never get to the line, they give up a ton of steals (they are 269th in Steal%, while Mizzou's defense is 13th), and they get quite a few shots blocked (287th in Block%, while Mizzou's defense is 29th).  They are an all-around sound defensive team, but again, they do not force many turnovers.

They might also have a depth problem; we will get into that below.

Where they are best

They absolutely rain 3-pointers on you.  They are seventh in the country in 3PT% (Mizzou's defense is 198th); 39.6% of their point distribution comes from the 3-ball (eighth-most in the country).  And like I said, if you have to overplay the 3-pointer, everything else falls into place as well.  The Hoyas rank 42nd in 2PT% offense and 19th in assists per field goal made.  It really is a pretty offense sometimes.

Georgetown's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    at No. 46 Old Dominion, 62-59
    vs No. 49 N.C. State, 82-67
    vs No. 101 Wofford, 74-59
    No. 144 Tulane, 69-53
    vs No. 198 Coastal Carolina, 80-61
    No. 210 UNC-Asheville, 87-72
  • Losses
    none

This is the first Top 30 opponent for either school, but Georgetown has been challenged a bit more thus far; for the most part, they have responded well.  They struggled to take care of Old Dominion, but frankly, Old Dominion is a damn good team.  The Hoyas had little trouble with N.C. State and have settled into a nice "coast to a 15-point win" rhythm against the cakier teams on the schedule.

Georgetown Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Austin Freeman (6'4, 235, Sr.) 19.2 0.63 30.3 MPG, 20.2 PPG (57.6% 3PT), 2.3 RPG, 2.3 APG
Chris Wright (6'1, 209, Sr.) 13.7 0.43 31.7 MPG, 12.7 PPG (45.6% FG), 7.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 3.5 TOPG
Jason Clark (6'2, 170, Jr.) 13.5 0.45 30.3 MPG, 14.3 PPG (45.5% 3PT), 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.5 TOPG
Julian Vaughn (6'9, 250, Sr.) 11.1 0.42 26.8 MPG, 10.2 PPG (46.7% 2PT), 8.0 RPG, 3.2 BPG, 1.6 APG, 2.4 TOPG
Hollis Thompson (6'7, 205, So.) 9.9 0.42 23.7 MPG, 9.0 PPG (48.8% FG), 6.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
Vee Sanford (6'3, 180, So.) 4.9 0.54 9.2 MPG, 3.6 PPG (63.6% FG), 1.6 RPG
Henry Sims (6'10, 232, Jr.) 4.1 0.32 12.5 MPG, 3.3 PPG (52.9% 2PT), 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG
Nate Lubick (6'9, 238, Fr.) 1.0 0.06 16.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG (40.0% FG), 2.8 RPG, 1.2 TOPG
Jerrelle Benimon (6'7, 237, So.) 0.8 0.05 15.2 MPG, 1.3 PPG (37.5% FG), 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.3 TOPG
Markel Starks (6'2, 175, Fr.) 0.6 0.07 8.6 MPG, 1.0 PPG (25.0% FG)
Aaron Bowen (6'6, 200, Fr.) -1.7 -0.65 2.6 MPG, 0.0 PPG

* 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.

  • Highest Usage%: Vaughn (25%), Freeman (24%), Wright (23%), Clark (23%).
  • Highest Floor%: Sanford (58%), Freeman (53%), Wright (42%), Sims (42%)
  • Highest %Pass: Wright (73%), Benimon (68%), Starks (68%), Sanford (66%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Freeman (40%), Thompson (39%), Clark (39%), Vaughn (37%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Vaughn (15%), Freeman (12%), Thompson (10%)
  • Hightest %TO: Lubick (16%), Benimon (13%), Clark (10%), Vaughn (10%)
  • This team runs through Austin Freeman and Chris Wright.  Freeman is as scary a guard as Mizzou will face this year (if you can classify him as such); he is a brick wall, much bigger than any of Mizzou's guards, and he is a dangerous scorer from anywhere on the court.  I mean...come on, 58% on 3-pointers?  And he takes over five a game too.  He shoots 62% on 2-pointers as well, so overplaying him on the perimeter really doesn't get you anywhere.
  • Jason Clark is a bit of a silent assassin.  Freeman gets the lion's share of the points, and Wright is the passer, but despite the fact that I hadn't even heard of him until I wrote this preview (then again, I'm still in football mode), he is averaging 14 points and making almost 50% of his 3's.  The three-headed guard lineup Georgetown enjoys (if you call Freeman a guard) is very potent.
  • Julian Vaughn doesn't appear to have much touch around the basket, but he's a bull.  And he's just about the only Georgetown player on the court who tends to draw fouls.  His battle with Ricardo Ratliffe could be very interesting.  They are in many ways the same player, except Vaughn gets fouled a bit more and Ratliffe grabs more defensive rebounds (and has slightly better touch).
  • Depending on how the whistles blow, this could be a pretty fast game. Neither offense draws a ton of fouls.

Keys to the Game

  1. Freeman Versus the World.  I have no idea who will be guarding Austin Freeman.  Could be Marcus Denmon, could be Kim English, could be Laurence Bowers.  Anybody but Pressey/Dixon and Ratliffe won't surprise me.  Regardless, he is clearly the linchpin.  If Georgetown beats Mizzou because Jason Clark went crazy, that's fine.  (Well, it's not fine, but you know what I'm saying.)  You still have to figure out how to minimize the damage Freeman does.

  2. In the words of Herb Brooks, play ... your ... game.  Georgetown has plenty of advantages of their own, but for Mizzou to win this game, they must utilize their biggest assets.  They must force turnovers, they must punish Georgetown for a lack of depth ... in a nutshell, they must swarmswarmswarmswarmswarmswarmswarm.  (Which means they also have to make a shot or two to set up their press, I guess.)  The Hoyas do have eight guys averaging at least 12 minutes per game, and ten averaging at least eight, so it's not like they are going to wear down and play guys who haven't seen the court this year.  But their best players might wear down.  There is a significant dropoff between their top five and the rest, and Mizzou's second team might be able to create a significant advantage for the Tigers ... if they play well, anyway.

  3. Kim English.  Once again, with Good Kimmeh on the court, Mizzou's ceiling is as high as anybody's.  The defensive potential in this unit is outstanding, and thanks mostly to Ricardo Ratliffe, Mizzou's rebounding potential is much higher than it has been.  But you still need to score.  You still need somebody through whom the offense flows.  Mike Dixon has been playing at a level higher than expected, Laurence Bowers and Ratliffe appear to be steady clean-up guys, and Marcus Denmon is still Marcus Denmon.  But without Kim English playing at least a B+ game, it will be very difficult for Mizzou to beat a team of Georgetown's caliber.

Prediction

It is rare to find two similarly ranked teams that both possess so many unique advantages over each other.  Ken Pomeroy projects a one-point Georgetown win, but honestly I'll be a bit surprised if it ends up that close either way.  I am guessing that whoever best utilizes their matchup advantages -- Georgetown with the 3-point shooting and FG defense, Mizzou with the ball control game and depth -- will likely win by 8-12 points.  If Mizzou wins, look for something in the neighborhood of Mizzou 76, Georgetown 68.  If Georgetown does the deed, think Georgetown 70, Mizzou 58.

Tonight we find out whether Mizzou's occasional stagnation was a warning sign or a side effect of Mike Anderson figuring out what he has to work with.  Right now, ten players are averaging at least ten minutes per game, and only two are averaging over 23.  There will always be a wide minutes distribution in Anderson's system, but not that wide.  Tonight we find out whether tighter rotations -- more minutes for English, Mike Dixon, and either Justin Safford or Steve Moore, less minutes for the Presseys, Ricky Kreklow and Safford/Moore -- result in tighter play, or if the growing pains Mizzou has experienced will continue through a good portion of December.  What's my prediction?  Like I always say, I pick Mizzou just so I can say I picked it if it happens.  But this is a true tossup, and Mizzou's season outlook will likely change after tonight, for better or worse.  No pressure.

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