LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS. Can we make it three games in a row with a winner?
With rested legs, Mizzou reaches the tail end of a tough three-game stretch tomorrow night, hosting a stellar Vanderbilt squad. The Commodores' identity has changed a bit since the departure of A.J. Ogilvy after last season, but they are long, athletic, and potent from long range. Mizzou will have to take full advantage of their turnover problems to move to 7-1.
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||59.5%
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||11.4
On the "styles make fights" scale, this isn't quite up to the level of last week's Mizzou-Georgetown game, but it's interesting. Vanderbilt shoots very well (and in case you haven't noticed, Mizzou has not played very good FG% defense recently) and rebounds like mad, but they turn the ball over way too much. If they can control the ball, they should hold more than enough advantages to end Mizzou's long home non-conference winning streak. But if the turnovers start, and the crowd gets into it, the turnover may never stop.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
|Vandy Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|VU Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||58
MU Offense vs Vandy Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||VU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||93
Where the Commodores are weakest
Vandy really only has one specific weakness, but against Missouri, it could get them run out of the building. They turn the ball over like crazy. Nine 'Dores average at least 14 minutes per game; seven average at least 1.4 turnovers per game. Their primary ball-handler, Brad Tinsley, averages 3.3. Vandy ranks 226th in Off. Turnover% and 175th in Off. Steals%. There is upside everywhere you look with this team, but if you were hoping to see one specific weakness from a Mizzou opponent (especially at home), this is it.
Where they are best
They are damn solid in basically every facet of the game that isn't ball-handling. They rebound like crazy (24th in Def. Reb%, 58th in Off. Reb%). They shoot well (39th in 2PT%, 64th in 3PT%, 26th in FT% ... plus, they get to the line a lot). You don't shoot well against them (66th in 2PT%, 34th in 3PT%, 48th in Def. Block%). If Mizzou can't dominate in terms of BCI, they will need somebody (cough cough Marcus Denmon) to catch fire offensively to keep up. Not impossible, but tough.
Vanderbilt's Season to Date
Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
vs No. 28 North Carolina, 72-65
No. 58 Belmont, 85-76
vs No. 62 Nebraska, 59-49
No. 135 Western Kentucky, 82-62
No. 143 Appalachian State, 86-73
No. 287 Presbyterian, 88-47
No. 340 Grambling, 92-59
vs No. 25 West Virginia, 71-74
Most of Vandy's resume, to date, was put together at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off back in mid-November. They took out North Carolina and a reasonably salty Nebraska team, and they barely fell to West Virginia. Otherwise, they have just been taking care of business against cupcakes, beating teams in the 100s by 20-something and beating teams in the 200s-300s by much worse. They have yet to play a true road game, and that could hurt their turnover figures that much more.
Vanderbilt Player Stats
|Festus Ezeli (6'11, 255, Jr.)||15.8||0.74||21.3 MPG, 13.3 PPG (66.7% FG), 7.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.5 TOPG|
|John Jenkins (6'4, 220, So.)||15.0||0.47||31.9 MPG, 18.6 PPG (37.9% 3PT), 2.8 RPG, 1.8 TOPG|
|Brad Tinsley (6'3, 210, Jr.)||10.7||0.36||29.6 MPG, 9.4 PPG (42.6% FG), 5.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 3.3 TOPG|
|Jeffery Taylor (6'7, 225, Jr.)||9.5||0.37||25.8 MPG, 12.1 PPG (45.5% 3PT), 3.9 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 TOPG|
|Lance Goulbourne (6'8, 230, Jr.)||9.2||0.44||21.0 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.9 TOPG|
|Andre Walker (6'7, 220, Jr.)||6.5||0.28||23.1 MPG, 3.7 PPG (50.0% FG), 3.9 RPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.4 TOPG|
|Steve Tchiengang (6'9, 245, Jr.)||5.1||0.29||17.4 MPG, 4.8 PPG (37.9% FG), 4.4 RPG|
|Rod Odom (6'9, 215, Fr.)||4.0||0.28||14.4 MPG, 5.8 PPG (47.2% FG), 2.9 RPG|
|Kyle Fuller (6'1, 200, Fr.)||0.4||0.03||13.9 MPG, 2.1 PPG (32.0% FG), 1.8 APG, 1.5 TOPG|
* 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%: Ezeli (26%), Jenkins (26%), Taylor (24%).
Highest Floor%: Ezeli (48%), Walker (47%), Tinsley (40%).
Highest %Pass: Walker (81%), Tinsley (71%), Fuller (69%).
Highest %Shoot: Odom (65%), Jenkins (54%), Ezeli (48%).
Highest %Fouled: Ezeli (33%), Goulbourne (20%), Jenkins (20%).
Highest %TO: Odom (16%), Goulbourne (14%), Ezeli (10%).
- Festus Ezeli has done a tremendous A.J. Ogilvy impression to date. A backup last year, Ezeli's per-minute averages are outstanding. He has great touch around the basket and is an absolute monster on the offensive glass. His 22% Off. Reb% is easily the best of anybody Mizzou has faced this season. In fact, it is second-best in the country. You want to know how a team that turns the ball over so much can still have very good overall offensive efficiency? It's because any time they don't turn the ball over, they get a good shot ... and if they miss the good shot, Ezeli cleans up the mess.
Fortunately for Mizzou, he appears to have a weakness. He averages 1.9 blocks per game, which is very good, but he also fouls 3.5 times per game in trying to get those blocks. The block attempts also put him out of position a bit on the glass; despite his offensive prowess, he is only decent on the defensive glass. Because of foul trouble, Ezeli is averaging only 21 minutes per game. If Mizzou can turn Vandy over a lot and get Ezeli into foul trouble, they will be in very good shape. To me, Ezeli might compare quite a bit to Texas' Dexter Pittman. He is a beast with what he does, but hopefully he will not be able to stand up to the press without wearing down.
- Perhaps the linchpin for Vandy in tomorrow's game is Brad Tinsley. He had a triple double for Vandy in the season opener against Mizzou's next opponent, Presbyterian (11 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds), and overall he seems to do a pretty good Zaire Taylor impression in terms of size and all-around ability. But he turns the ball over a lot. He touches the ball more than everybody else on the team, and if Mizzou gets him flustered/shaky with the press, good things could happen. But if he is under control and gets Vandy into the flow of their offense, the 'Dores could take control.
- Man oh man, does Vandy have some 3-point shooters. Jeffery Taylor (45%), Lance Goulbourne (44%), Steve Tchiengang (41%), Rod Odom (45%) and John Jenkins (38%) are all solid shooters who make the open 3 if Mizzou lets them.
- UPDATE, 12:45: Anchor of Gold mentions that "glue guy" Andre Walker is out for this one.
This was one of the more frustrating losses of last season for me, simply because Mizzou played just well enough to win and made a very impressive charge at the end. Unfortunately, they simply didn't have an answer for A.J. Ogilvy (25 points, 6 boards), and an iffy charge call on J.T. Tiller with 21 seconds left (he jumped one way, the defender fell the other) ended Mizzou's one chance to close the gap. Losing at Vandy is far from embarrassing, and in the end the loss didn't hurt Mizzou's resume at all; it was just a missed opportunity, is all.
Keys to the Game
SWARMSWARMSWARMSWARMSWARMSWARM. Mizzou has one single advantage in this game, but it is a big one. If the Tigers are to win, they will need to dominate Vandy in the ball control department. That means protecting the ball pretty well themselves and turning Vandy over by the bucketful. In other words, swarmswarmswarmswarmswarmswarm. If this becomes a half-court contest, the advantage very much goes to Vandy.
Guard the perimeter. We can make the case that against both Georgetown and Oregon, a lot of the 3's Mizzou's opponents made were reasonably well-defended and unlikely, but as I said last week ... eventually this stops being luck and becomes and official defensive weakness. Mizzou's season defensive numbers plummeted last week, and justifiably so, but I still think the ceiling is quite high here. If they wanted to prove me right by doing a much better job of locking down the perimeter, I'd appreciate it.
Kim English. Marcus Denmon has proven that he is easily the best offensive player Missouri has. He even has a complement in Ricardo Ratliffe. The concerns regarding Mizzou's overall offense are much lower than they were a week ago. But Denmon isn't always going to be hot, and Vanderbilt is a very good defensive team on the perimeter. Until or unless Festus Ezeli gets into foul trouble or wears out, he should be able to neutralize the impact Ratliffe may have. In other words, unless Mizzou is forcing tons of turnovers, a new offensive weapon might need to emerge to beat the 'Dores. Maybe an offensive weapon wearing the No. 24 jersey.
This game will be completely dictated by ball control. If Mizzou forces turnovers like they are capable of doing, they could blow the doors off the 'Dores, as they have most opponents during their long, non-conference home winning streak. But if Brad Tinsley and company are not handing Mizzou transition opportunities, the advantage shifts pretty violently toward Vandy. We're either looking at something like an 81-68 Mizzou win or a 73-69 Vandy win. I have said many times that I always pick Mizzou -- because why not? -- so you know what I'm picking. But this should be a dogfight. Bring your A-game, Mizzou Arena.