Study Hall: Mizzou vs WVU -- Not the way I wanted to lose.

Your season-ending Trifecta: Tiller-Dixon-Bowers.  Your winner: nobody.  We head to next season having seen one winner in the fifteen games of the Trifecta competition.  What a great game this was, eh?

West Virginia 68, Mizzou 59

Mizzou
WVU
Points Per Minute
1.48 1.70
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.00 1.15
Points Per Shot (PPS)
0.97 1.45
2-PT FG% 32.5% 43.8%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 33.3%
FT% 60.0% 75.8%
True Shooting % 42.3% 55.3%
Mizzou WVU
Assists 13 12
Steals 6 4
Turnovers 7 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.71 1.60
Mizzou WVU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 16 11
Offensive Rebounds 17 13
Difference +1 +2


Fate is fickle, and your Achilles heel always ends your season.

Nobody was surprised when free throw shooting ended up killing Memphis in 2008; but the way it happened (their two best FT shooters falling apart) wasn't quite what was expected.  Same with Texas in 2010.  Your Achilles heel always tends to trip you up, even if it doesn't quite happen like you think it's going to, and in the end "Mizzou loses because they can't put the ball in the bucket" is exactly what we'd have expected the season-ending headline to say.  We expected the poor offense to come from missed jumpers and stagnation, not missed putback after missed putback, but that's the way it went down.

Remember after the Nebraska loss, when I used a table to show the shots Nebraska took to compare what should have happened (on average) and what did happen?  We're now going to do the same thing to show just how many points Mizzou scored compared to what might have been expected on average.

Warning: the following table is infuriating.  If your emotions are still raw, just close your browser and come back to this a few hours later.

Shot MU MU's
Season %
WVU's %
Allowed
Expected
%
Pts. If
Shooting
Exp. %
Actual
Pts.
2-pointer 13-for-40
(32.5%)
48.1% 46.2% 47.1% 37.6 26.0
3-pointer 7-for-21
(33.3%)
36.9% 32.7% 34.8% 21.9 21.0
Free Throw 12-for-20
(60.0%)
72.8% N/A 72.8% 14.6 12.0
Total 74.1 59.0


So Mizzou left basically FIFTEEN points on the board compared to what could have been expected based on season averages.  Ugh.  And I'm sure in all of your memories, you can very quickly come up with fifteen points' worth of shots that rimmed in and out.

As fans, we tend to look at results in the prism of just our team -- if we won, it's because we made the plays to win the game; if we lost, it's because our team screwed up, the other team didn't beat us.  It's the easiest thing in the world to do, and in losses, it deflects praise from the opponent.  In the case of Mizzou's shooting, you have to credit to West Virginia to some degree.  Most of the missed shots rattled out after just nicking the front of the rim, meaning Mizzou was coming up a half-centimeter short on a ton of shots.  We have to figure that WVU's size and defense was responsible for at least some of that half-centimeter, right?

But this was still the worst-case scenario for Mizzou fans -- when you're a 10-seed facing a 2, you know your odds of victory aren't just fantastic.  You know there's a chance that you lose because the 2-seed is just better.  But when you lose because you missed a whole lot of shots you could have been expected to make ... that is, to say the least, frustrating.  Maddening, even.

At the end of the day, Mizzou's season ended because they couldn't score when they needed to.  And while that alone wasn't surprising, it's sometimes just part of being a Mizzou fan that even the expected outcome still comes with a little extra twist of the knife.

Beating WVU at their own game.

What the rim-outs hid was the fact that Mizzou all but outplayed WVU at the Mountaineers' game.  They broke almost entirely even on the glass with the best remaining offensive rebounding team in the field, and despite not forcing a ton of turnovers (kudos to WVU's ball-handlers for not getting sucked into the up-tempo game too much) they almost doubled WVU in terms of BCI and overall ball-handling.  If you'd have shared that sentence with me before the game, I'd have bet you $100 that Mizzou had pulled the upset.  They did everything they had to do ... except make the makeable shots.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player
AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
J.T. Tiller 15.5 0.52 30 Min, 13 Pts (2-for-9 FG, 9-for-12 FT), 4 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl
Mike Dixon 13.7 0.81 17 Min, 15 Pts (6-for-10 FG, 2-for-4 3PT)
Laurence Bowers 11.0 0.33 33 Min, 6 Pts (3-for-8 FG, 0-for-2 FT), 9 Reb (7 Off), 4 Blk
Zaire Taylor 9.8 0.28 35 Min, 10 Pts (3-for-10 FG, 3-for-7 3PT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl
Steve Moore 5.5 0.35 16 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-0 FG), 3 Blk, 2 Reb, 2 Ast
Keith Ramsey 4.4 0.15 30 Min, 5 Pts (2-for-9 FG), 8 Reb (5 Off), 4 PF
Kim English -0.3 -0.01 26 Min, 10 Pts (4-for-12 FG, 2-for-7 3PT), 3 Reb, 4 TO, 5 PF
Marcus Denmon -3.8 -0.29 13 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-3 FG)


* 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.

  • Though J.T. Tiller did make a couple of maddening plays with the ball in the second half, he still almost willed Mizzou back into the game.  It wasn't the sharpest version of Jesus Tyrannosaurus, but it was as hard-working a version as we could have hoped for in his final game in a Mizzou uniform.
  • Way to go, Mike Dixon.  You just created EXTREMELY high expectations for your 2010-11 play.  Granted, as point guard we'll need to see your assist totals go up next year, but we'll get to that later.  You were the smallest player on the court against one of the biggest teams in the country, and you were outstanding.
  • Laurence Bowers had to be kicking himself last night.  First half: 3-for-3 shooting.  Second half: 0-for-5 FG, 0-for-2 FT.  He fought, scratched and clawed to seven offensive rebounds and four blocks, but he just didn't have the touch.  Whether it was the wrist bothering him, WVU's size, bad luck, whatever ... he didn't have the smooth touch we usually get from Party Starter.
  • Decent game from Mr. Coffee overall -- obviously 10 points on 10 shots isn't that great, but all three of his 3-pointers were key, he threw in a couple of assists and steals, and his defense was stout.
  • Way to go, Steve Moore.  You just created EXTREMELY high expectations for your 2010-11 defensive play.  Now just add a few more post-up skills to the repertoire.  Please.  You're already loved by the fans ... but don't you want to be straight-up adored?
  • Law of averages caught up to Keith Ramsey in a major, major way.  For the two tourney games, he scored 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting.  That's more than we could legitimately expect from him ... and it just so happened that most of the makes came against Clemson.
  • The goal for Kim English in 2010-11: if you want to become a legendary player for Mizzou, instead of just a streaky scorer, figure out how to contribute to the box score when the jumper isn't falling.
  • Turns out Marcus Denmon suffered a broken nose a while back.  I'm just going to close my eyes, put my fingers in my ears, and pretend that that explains all of his recent shooting woes.  Yep, that explains. It. All.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

R-E-B-O-U-N-D

Mizzou's outstanding work on the glass in the second half allowed them to stay within four points with two minutes left despite not being able to hit a shot to save their lives.  Unfortunately, the biggest rebound of the game came with 1:18 left, when Cam Thoroughman missed two free throws with WVU holding on to a 5-point lead, but Da'Sean Butler spun around Ramsey for the easy board and putback.  For the game, WVU ended up +1 on the game on expected rebounds, and that +1 made the difference between the game being over and Mizzou still having a shred of a chance.  Still, though, rebounding kept Mizzou in the game long after their shots should have dropped them out of it, and that means that Mizzou fared extremely well in all four games they played this year against Top 10 offensive rebounding teams.  Of course, it came at a price ...

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo.

... and that price was a game that ran at a 59-possession pace.  As mentioned, Mizzou played at WVU's pace and gave themselves a chance anyway, but the balancing act between defensive rebounding and quick transition led to Mizzou sacrificing the pace that they had used to bludgeon Clemson.

How long does West Virginia get sucked in?

Strangely, Mizzou was within five points at half despite WVU never really falling prey to the Mizzou pace.  However, over a six-and-a-half minute span in the second half, WVU started to discover that the concept of the Fastest 40 Minutes is about more than a full-court press.  After Da'Sean Butler's three free throws gave WVU a 50-41 lead with 11:28 left, here is a list of WVU's next ten possessions:

  • Da'Sean Butler missed 3-pointer (Mizzou team rebound)
  • Cam Thoroughman layup
  • Joe Mazzulla blocked by Laurence Bowers (Zaire Taylor rebound)
  • Kevin Jones missed 3-pointer (J.T. Tiller rebound)
  • Mike Dixon steal
  • Da'Sean Butler jumper
  • Kevin Jones blocked by Keith Ramsey (Laurence Bowers rebound)
  • Joe Mazzulla missed layup, Kevin Jones offensive rebound, Da'Sean Butler turnover
  • Zaire Taylor steal
  • Kim English steal

Ten possessions, four points, four turnovers (three steals), two blocks, 2-for-7 shooting.  From the 11:28 mark of the second half to the 4:54 mark, West Virginia was absolutely sucked into the Fastest 40 Minutes, press or no press.

Unfortunately, despite this outstanding defensive stand, Mizzou was only able to score nine points on their own ten possessions and get only within 54-50 because apparently somebody had replaced their rim with a smaller one from a carnival game during a TV timeout.  If Mizzou could have gotten any rolls at all (ANY), they'd have taken the lead at this time.  Alas.

Summary

I mentioned on Friday morning that any tourney success was icing on the cake and that I could not have been prouder of the seniors and the importance they brought back to Mizzou basketball.  That was before Keith Ramsey spit out 20 points and carried the Mizzou offense against Clemson (along with Kim English, of course) and before, on defense against WVU, Tiller and Taylor gave us one more good look at the hard-nosed Hustle & Flow combination that has served us so well in the past two years.  It is still true that I'm happy with how the season turned out ...

... but DAMN it would have been nice to see what would have happened had some of those putbacks rolled in early in the second half.  DAMN.

Regardless, Mizzou confirmed this week what we had already begun to suspect after last season's tourney run: they will always be a ridiculously tough out in the tourney.  West Virginia played well, held a significant size advantage, and still needed a little luck to fend the Tigers off.  Mizzou lost a starter to injury three weeks ago, his replacement in the starting lineup was playing with torn wrist ligaments, and their off-the-bench sniper had a broken nose.  And they still threw a scare into a team that most agreed should have gotten a 1-seed in the NCAA Tourney, a team many of us picked to win the East region and potentially make the national finals.  What was supposed to be a rebuilding season was a rather entertaining ride that left us with almost as many what-if's and almost's as last year's great run.  This is a program to be proud of, and the future is unbelievably bright.

Over the coming days, we'll bring Mizzou's season to a close, look toward next season, and then switch gears to football.  It's been a fun season, and I want to thank everybody for taking part in the continued growth of this site as the season played out.  The content never stops here, so keep stopping by.

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