Study Hall: Georgetown

YOUR TRIFECTA: DENMON-RATLIFFE-DIXON.  Your winner: SOMEBODY!!!  Actually, three somebodies.  CEW, Mac6uffin and MUTIGERS86 all take home the prize.  That officially makes two games with (four) winners in about 10 months.  Mizzou lost in Boddicker-esque fashion AND, in even more unlikely fashion, somebody won the Trifecta?  My life is now meaningless and directionless.

As a Mizzou fan, I know I'm supposed to be angry right now.  Angry at Laurence Bowers for missing two free throws, angry at Mike Dixon for suffering a brain fart and fouling with :15 left (and missing a free throw), apparently angry at Kim English for trying to save a ball from going out of bounds (and not playing very well overall), angry at the refs for botching the shot clock violation, angry at life, et cetera.  But I just can't do it.  Instead, all I can think is to echo what Jet Roberts said last night on Twitter.  Georgetown played like a Top 10 team, shot 71% in the first half, didn't miss a free throw ... and still needed about 17 breaks in the last 15 seconds of regulation to win the game.  If that's what it takes to beat Missouri this year, then the disappointment from last night will not linger very long.

Think about what had to happen in the last 19 seconds for Georgetown to win last night:

  • Two Laurence Bowers free throws roll all the way around the rim but don't fall.
  • With 15 seconds left, Mike Dixon jumps in front of Chris Wright to set up for defense, like he has a million times in his life, only this time he runs into Wright instead.
  • After Hollis Thompson's ill-advised 3-pointer, Kim English is in perfect position for a rebound, only the player behind him gets a fingertip on it, and it bounces around and ricochets off of another Georgetown player's leg.

    English, unsure who last touched the ball, saves it and flings it back inbounds ... about a foot out of Ricardo Ratliffe's reach and into Jason Clark's hands.  Clark has the presence of mind to pass out to Wright for the Brian Boddicker-esque tying 3-pointer, but ... watch what happens next.  Clark thinks Georgetown is still down and tries to foul English on the inbound.  He comes up just short.  Another step, and he'd have left the refs no choice but to call the foul.  (Didn't see that until Sportscenter this morning.)  Georgetown did about eight things wrong on the final possession, and they tied it up anyway.  There is very little Mizzou can do about that.

Teams blow leads.  Remember Texas Tech from last yearOklahoma State from two years ago?  Or countless examples of teams blowing leads to Missouri?  We always want to assign meaning and blame to everything, but really ... stuff happens.  Sure, Mizzou missed free throws, but they also shot 74% from the line for the game.  Sure, they made some silly mistakes at the end, but that came after 28 minutes of damn near mistake-free ball.  They put themselves in position to beat a great team, then they regressed just enough at the end to give it back.  It happens.

The key now is how Mizzou responds.  They played their best ball in a long, long time last night, from about the 8:00 mark of the first half to the 0:15 mark of the second half.  They made up 23 points on a Georgetown team playing really, really well.  It is now up to Missouri to make sure they play like they did last night more often than not.  Because they will win a boatload of games if that's the case.

Georgetown 111, Mizzou 102 (OT)

Mizzou
G'town
Pace (No. of Possessions)
80.9
Points Per Minute
2.27 2.47
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.26 1.37
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.59 1.61
2-PT FG% 63.0% 64.9%
3-PT FG% 38.9% 46.9%
FT% 74.2% 100.0%
True Shooting % 65.7% 72.2%
Mizzou G'town
Assists 17 23
Steals 14 6
Turnovers 12 18
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.58 1.61
Mizzou G'town
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 10
Offensive Rebounds 8 12
Difference -3 +2

When I Predicted a Game in the 60s and 70s...

...I was assuming both teams would be scoring somewhere in the 0.90 - 1.10 points per possession range.  Instead, Mizzou somehow lost despite posting a season-high 1.26 points per possession.  Honestly, 1.26 might still be their season high in four months as well.  That's a really, really good average.  Unfortunately, thanks to hot streaks in the first half and overtime, Georgetown not only matched them, but exceeded them as well.

In yesterday's preview, I tried to warn everybody how good an offensive team Georgetown was, especially when it came to 3-point shooting.  I apparently completely undersold them.  If they're taking an open shot, it's going in.  If they're taking a well-covered shot, it still might be going in.  They averaged almost 1.4 points per possession against what might end up being Mike Anderson's best defensive team at Mizzou.  That's incredible.  Very few (if any) teams in the country would have beaten Georgetown last night with the way they played, and Mizzou almost did.

It Probably Goes Without Saying...

...but Mizzou is going to win almost every game in which they shoot 63% on 2-pointers, 39% on 3-pointers, and 74% on free throws.  I know they missed the ones that counted the most, but they wouldn't have been in position to miss those if they hadn't shot so well the rest of the game.  And against a very good FG% defense, no less.

The Underrated Reason Mizzou Lost

After shooting 71% in the first half (and before shooting 67% in overtime), Georgetown shot just 15-for-35 (43%) in the second half.  Mizzou made up ground, obviously, moving from down seven to up five.  But despite poor shooting and a bucket of turnovers, Georgetown hung around because they grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the second half.  It appeared that Mizzou was (justifiably) so focused on interfering in the passing lanes and forcing Georgetown to take worse shots that when the ball went up in the air, Mizzou relaxed ever so slightly, allowing role players like Henry Sims (three offensive rebounds) to poke around for second (and third) chances.  It kept Georgetown just close enough to get lucky at the end.  (Also, there was some luck involved: Georgetown "grabbed" four of five team/deadball rebounds, like the one where English saved the ball back inbounds at the end.)

Because of that second half surge, Georgetown ended up +5 in Expected Rebound Differential.  They probably wouldn't have won the game had they been even +4.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 28.9 0.72 40 Min, 27 Pts (10-12 FG, 5-7 3PT), 6 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 21.3 0.51 42 Min, 22 Pts (9-16 FG, 4-5 FT), 7 Reb (4 Off)
Mike Dixon 17.1 0.45 38 Min, 17 Pts (4-10 FG, 1-4 3PT, 8-11 FT), 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Reb, 2 TO
Laurence Bowers 12.5 0.36 35 Min, 10 Pts (4-5 FG, 2-4 FT), 4 Ast, 3 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO
Matt Pressey 9.2 0.77 12 Min, 9 Pts (3-5 FG, 2-3 FT), 3 Ast
Justin Safford 6.8 0.62 11 Min, 6 Pts (1-2 FG, 4-4 FT), 3 Reb
Kim English 6.0 0.13 47 Min, 11 Pts (5-12 FG, 1-2 FT), 4 Ast, 3 Stl, 4 TO
Phil Pressey 0.7 0.70 1 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG)
Steve Moore -0.8 -0.82 1 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG)

 

  • Sorry, Marcus.  It really hurts to waste a performance like the one Marcus Denmon had last night.  Austin Freeman and Chris Wright stole the headlines, but Denmon played potentially the best game of his career last night.  Keep it up, Marcus, and you'll win more than you lose.
  • I'm getting really, really excited about Ricardo Ratliffe.  Yes, he missed three dunk attempts.  But a) that means he was going for dunks instead of fading away, b) he made 9 of his other 13 shots, c) he went to the line five times (and made four!), and d) he grabbed four offensive rebounds.  If you had to draw up, on paper, the exact player that Mizzou was missing last year, it would be Ricardo Ratliffe.  The guy showed some outstanding touch around the basket (dunks aside), and I loved the passion he was showing after making shots.
  • It's a damn shame that Dixon's night ended the way it did; after making two free throws with 26 seconds left, he committed a silly foul, missed the game-clinching free throw, then missed two shots and had a turnover at the beginning of overtime.  The 38 minutes he logged were a career high, and he clearly lost his legs, but he was ridiculous through the first 19:45 of the second half.
  • One defensive rebound for Laurence Bowers.  Obviously nobody was going to grab a ton of defensive rebounds last night, considering Georgetown rarely missed, but you've got to grab more than one in 35 minutes.  Anecdotally speaking, most of the Georgetown offensive boards that I remember came against Bowers; none that I remember came against Ratliffe.  Again, that's completely anecdotal, but the numbers back it up.
  • Matt Pressey is lucky "dumb 3-point attempts early in the shot clock" aren't factored into the AdjGS equation; otherwise he'd have been severely penalized for his two in that category.  That said, his three assists and nine points in 12 minutes were quite a boost from a bench that Anderson clearly doesn't trust yet.  Though he does take some silly shots, he is a nice physical, driving presence at times.
  • I was surprised that, in a game where Bowers was far from amazing and Steve Moore clearly didn't have it, Justin Safford logged only 11 minutes.  I guess Anderson was riding Ratliffe's hot hand as much as anything (can't blame him for that), but on a per-minute basis, Safford's contribution was welcome.
  • We'll get to Kim English below.
  • This really was a game where Anderson revealed who he does and doesn't trust.  Steve Moore and Phil Pressey both played less than a minute, and Ricky Kreklow didn't see the floor.  Moore isn't ready offensively (and in this game, it was all about offense; Steeeeeeeve wouldn't have been able to help Mizzou's perimeter defense, and he quickly proved himself an offensive black hole), Pressey isn't ready defensively, and Kreklow, I guess, just isn't ready.  Obviously if this game were played in February, the minutes distribution might have been a little different.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Marcus Denmon 19% 66% 1.1 0% 76% 11% 13%
Ricardo Ratliffe 22% 52% 1.8 22% 61% 17% 0%
Mike Dixon 22% 42% 3.3 52% 22% 21% 5%
Laurence Bowers 13% 56% 2.7 69% 15% 10% 6%
Matt Pressey 27% 60% 5.9 70% 20% 10% 0%
Justin Safford 22% 47% 3.2 48% 16% 28% 8%
Kim English 18% 35% 2.5 57% 29% 4% 10%
Phil Pressey 51% 0% 2.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Steve Moore 101% 0% 5.6 0% 50% 0% 50%
  • I was surprised to see Marcus Denmon with such a low Usage%, but then I realized ... the only two field goals Denmon attempted in the last eight minutes of regulation and all of overtime were fast break layups.  His last true shot from the field went up with 8:22 left in regulation.  When Mizzou was running their halfcourt offense in the last few minutes, it still went through Bowers and English.  I assume this had as much to do with Georgetown keying on him as anything, but it was interesting.
  • Kim English is not on the court for an 18% Usage%.  He has gotten better at the other aspects of the game (he had four assists and three steals, though just the one rebound hurt), but he is a scorer, and he just doesn't look comfortable at all on offense.
  • Denmon, Ratliffe, Bowers and Pressey all had Floor%'s over 50%, and Dixon and Safford were both over 40% ... and Mizzou lost.  Does not compute.
  • Mizzou had assists on 17 of their 36 made field goals last night -- a solid total -- and it is reflected in players' %Pass.  Of the game's seven major players, only Denmon and Ratliffe were under 48% Pass.
  • Meanwhile, only Denmon and English were in double digits on %TO.  Ball security was definitely an early issue -- while Georgetown was shooting 80%+ at the start of the game, Mizzou was actually turning the ball over more than the Hoyas.  But after six turnovers in the first 11 minutes (Georgetown had four in that time), Mizzou suffered only six in the final 34 (Georgetown had 14).  Again, Mizzou will win a lot of games like that.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

Freeman Versus the World

Austin Freeman: 40 minutes, 31 points (10-17 FG, 6-11 3PT, 5-5 FT), 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 4 TO.  Needless to say, Freeman took on the best of Mizzou's perimeter defenders and bested them.  I mentioned that Georgetown probably couldn't win without a nice performance from Freeman.  Turns out, they probably couldn't win with just a 25-point performance.  They needed all 31 points.

In the words of Herb Brooks, play ... your ... game

BCI: Mizzou 2.58, Georgetown 1.61
Turnovers: Georgetown 18, Mizzou 12
Pace for 40 minutes: 72 possessions

After a rough early start, Mizzou played their game and almost ran Georgetown off the court.  All the credit in the world to the Hoyas for executing just well enough offensively, and grabbing just enough offensive rebounds, during the rough stretch that they were still within reach at the end of regulation.

Kim English

Kim English: 45 minutes, 11 points (5-12 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Assists, 4 TO, 3 Steals.  Just not going to cut it.  Mizzou almost knocked off a Top 10-caliber opponent despite 45 tentative minutes from Kimmeh.  As you will see this afternoon, The Beef used the word "malaise" to describe his efforts, and honestly, that's just about right.  It's like all the work he did this summer improved his skill set but screwed with his instincts.  He doesn't really know what to do when he's in an attacking position, and that's problematic.  I don't want to light into him too much here -- he played decent defense, logged three steals, and ... I mean, he played all 45 minutes.  He was doing plenty well.  But the offensive assassin we need to see at times just hasn't made too many appearances yet in the season's first eight games (including exhibitions).  It's still very early, and we know Kimmeh has it in him, but he isn't bringing nearly enough to the table right now.

Summary

I was exchanging e-mails with The Beef during the game (apparently he was too good for the live thread, ahem), and in one of them, I said that no matter what happens, at least we look like a good team*.

* You would think I'd have learned my lesson by now.  In my history as a sports fan, I'm pretty sure that anytime the words "No matter what happens..." came out of my mouth (or fingers, I guess), really bad, frustrating things happen.  I distinctly remember thinking those exact words with about 15 seconds left in the 2004 Mizzou-Texas Brian Boddicker game.  So I accept partial responsibility for what ensued.

Honestly, this was a bit of a concern.  As the hype grew this offseason, my paranoia about a 2003-04 repeat kept growing.  I have kept it tamped down for the most part, but the first five games did little to assuage my concerns.  For the most part, last night changed that ... until I remembered the 2003 Gonzaga game.  Heading into that game, Mizzou was 3-0 with underwhelming, single-digit wins over bad Oakland, Coppin State and Indiana teams.  They raised their game for Gonzaga and looked mostly great, but thanks in part to fluky circumstances (as I've mentioned before, they were called for a 10-second violation with 27 seconds remaining on the shot clock, and they were called for a late foul when two Gonzaga players ran into each other), they lost.  They responded with another underwhelming win (over UNC-Greensboro), then went 4-7 in a devastating 11-game stretch.

I am not saying this team will follow that path.  Really, I'm not.  I'm typically a sunshine-and-moonbeams guy, remember?  But with a tricky road game tomorrow night in Oregon, followed by a visit from Vanderbilt next Wednesday, that path is still an available option if Mizzou doesn't bounce back strong.  Mizzou looked like a Top 10-15 team last night, even in defeat.  Now they need to do it again.

 

---

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game.  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.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via).  The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.  The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.  As you would expect, someone like Kim English has a high Usage%, while Steve Moore has an extremely low one.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?".  The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor."  Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession.  For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range.  For shooting guards and wings, 2-3.  For Steve Moore, 1.30.  You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.

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