Study Hall: Mizzou vs Iowa State -- Two miserable hours...

...and three glorious shots.  Great night, right?

Your trifecta: Denmon, Tiller, Dixon.  Your winners: Nobody!  Seriously, nobody picked that?  And it wasn't even Dixon who was the sticking point ... a majority of people who picked Denmon first picked Ramsey second.  Odd.  But we head to Senior Day with still just the one trifecta winner ... the game stinks rules.  Just like the ISU game.

Mizzou 69, Iowa State 67

Mizzou
ISU
Points Per Minute
1.53 1.49
Points Per Possession (PPP)
0.89 0.87
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.05 1.05
2-PT FG% 53.2% 48.9%
3-PT FG% 21.1% 17.6%
FT% 63.6% 70.6%
True Shooting % 48.7% 46.9%
Mizzou ISU
Assists 13 12
Steals 12 7
Turnovers 19 20
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.32 0.95
Mizzou ISU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14 14
Offensive Rebounds 13 13
Difference -1 -1


Didn't Deserve to Win

* With one game left in the regular season, Kim English is still capable of pulling a disappearing act and hurting his team a rather significant amount.  Granted, he was far from alone last night, but it continues to be two steps forward, one and a half back for Lord Baltimore.  As you'll see below, he is now sixth on the team in AdjGS/game during conference play, below even Keith Ramsey and his 6 PPG.  Then again ... I think most of us stil expect him to come up big on Saturday.  He certainly seems to show up as Good Kimmeh in big home games.

* 19 turnovers!  Six from Keith Ramsey alone (and five from J.T. Tiller)!

* 4-for-19 from 3-point range!

* Laurence Bowers: 3-for-17 shooting in the last two games.

* Iowa State grabbed EIGHT first half offensive rebounds. Hold them to the expected five, and Zaire Taylor probably doesn't have to make three game-saving/game-winnings shots.

Didn't Deserve to Lose

* I mean ... did you see the defensive intensity over the last six minutes (OT + last minute of regulation)?  Did you see Denmon's block > Ramsey's save > Taylor's outlet pass > Dixon's fast break layup?  Mizzou clearly had no idea what to do on offense half the game, but they just as clearly wanted this one badly.

* Did you see how much the rebounding improved in the second half?  Mizzou grabbed nine offensive boards on 19 missed field goals (and three missed free throws) while holding ISU to just five on 18 missed field goals (and three missed free throws).  Only nine of Mizzou's 24 second half rebounds came from Ramsey (6), Bowers (2) or Moore (1) too.  Marcus Denmon grabbed five, while J.T. Tiller and Mike Dixon had two each.  Nice team effort.

* God bless you, Zaire Taylor.

(Hat tip to ZachIsHere for that ... now we need somebody to come up with a "Zaire's Big Shots" montage of the Texas, Kansas, KSU and ISU games.)

How Much Does This Team Miss Justin Safford?

It's hard not to notice that Mizzou's offense, which was peaking just a week ago, has been god-awful over the last two games, and it's hard not to think that Justin Safford's absence has something to do with that.  You can only miss a 40%-shooting power forward so much, but it's clear that his replacements have not even done that well -- as mentioned above, Bowers shot 17% in this two-game road trip, while Steve Moore is a complete offensive liability, taking one shot, grabbing zero offensive boards, and setting up a 4-on-5 situation on offense every time he's in the game.  And for a while yesterday, Ramsey couldn't stop turning the ball over, meaning not only were Mizzou's bigs failing to make up for Safford's absence, but they were failing to even play anywhere near their own averages.  It was basically 3-on-5 on offense.

Ramsey made a series of clutch plays yesterday (while Taylor gets all the love after this one, Ramsey and Denmon both deserve some pats on the back for their late-game performances as well), and that helped, but ... how much does Mizzou miss Safford right now?  And is it Safford's absence that is even the problem?  Is it just another mini-slump from English and Bowers (which might not have anything to do with Saffy) that is weighing Mizzou down?  Is it the opponent?

It's worth bringing up the fact that Mizzou didn't exactly light K-State and Iowa State aflame the first time around this season, so let's compare:

Mizzou Points Per Possession vs. Iowa State & Kansas State with Safford: KSU 1.04, ISU 0.96
Mizzou Points Per Possession vs. Iowa State & Kansas State without Safford: KSU 0.76, ISU 0.89

The first KSU game was aided by the abundance of unnecessary whistles, but in all, it's clear that Mizzou has taken at least one firm step backwards offensively.

Let's look at some individual stats from the last two games:

  • Kim English: 54 minutes, 18 points (8-for-23 FG, 1-for-8 3PT, 1-for-3 FT), 7 TO
  • J.T. Tiller: 56 minutes, 4 assists, 7 turnovers
  • Keith Ramsey: 78 minutes (!!), 1 assist, 8 turnovers
  • Laurence Bowers: 56 minutes, 7 points (3-for-17 FG, 0-for-3 3PT, 1-for-2 FT)
  • Zaire Taylor: 54 minutes, 16 points (6-for-20 FG, 0-for-7 3PT), 6 assists, 5 turnovers

Yeah, Taylor is basically 3-for-17 in shots that don't have the game on the line in the last 85 minutes of action, while English is earning 0.78 points per shot, which is horrendous.  Bowers has slumped, and Ramsey's turnovers have somewhat negated his positive impact (though Mizzou still probably wouldn't have won without the plays he made at the end).  In all, Tiller has willed the ball in the basket quite a few times (his A-TO ratio is clearly lacking, but he has scored 28 points on 20 shots in two games, by far the best on the team), and Denmon caught fire just in time last night, but almost everybody on the court has struggled.

Now, how much of that is due to Safford?  Hard to say, of course.  Bowers' misses don't really fall into the "he wouldn't have been taking that shot if Safford were in the game" category -- he's taken quite a few jumpers, but ... he's been making those jumpers all year.  Granted, he's probably taken more in Saffy's absence, but still.  Meanwhile, Ramsey has been turnover-prone all year; yesterday was just an extreme example.  The biggest problem right now is simply that, when one of them is struggling, they still have to play big minutes.  That's how Ramsey ended up with six turnovers in 41 minutes yesterday instead of four in 28.  That's how Bowers went 0-for-7 and 3-for-10 instead of 0-for-4 and 2-for-6.

Of course, I'm confident in saying that English's struggles have NOTHING to do with Safford, and really ... nevermind Bowers, if English shot a healthy average (not even good, just healthy), then that adds at least 6-8 points to Mizzou's point total over the last two games and, from a points-per-possession perspective, puts Mizzou just about at where they were the first time around against ISU (and closer against KSU).  But not only did he make multiple iffy decisions last night, but he started fading (both back and to the left) quite a bit on his jumper again.  Yes, he sometimes makes it when he does that, but his percentages are just god-awful overall when this dirty little habit creeps back into his game.  We'll probably see Good Kimmeh again this weekend (at least I hope so), but he is once again proving what can happen to your overall offense when your best offensive player loses his mind (and not in the good way) for a couple of games.  Pardon me while I softly chant "He's a sophomore ... He's a sophomore ... He's a sophomore ..." to myself for a while.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 23.1 0.77 30 Min, 16 Pts (6-for-10 FG, 2-for-4 3PT, 2-for-3 FT), 8 Reb (3 Off), 3 Ast
J.T. Tiller 14.1 0.46 31 Min, 17 Pts (6-for-12 FG, 2-for-2 3PT, 3-for-4 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO
Mike Dixon 10.2 0.57 18 Min, 10 Pts (5-for-8 FG, 0-for-3 3PT), 3 Reb
Zaire Taylor 7.8 0.25 31 Min, 6 Pts (3-for-10 FG, 0-for-3 3PT), 5 Ast, 3 Reb, 3 Stl
Laurence Bowers 7.3 0.22 33 Min, 7 Pts (3-for-10 FG, 0-for-2 3PT, 1-for-2 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 3 Stl, 2 Blk, 2 TO
Keith Ramsey 4.7 0.11 41 Min, 6 Pts (3-for-6 FG), 9 Reb (3 Off), 2 Stl, 2 Blk, 6 TO
Miguel Paul 1.3 0.19 7 Min, 2 Pts (1-for-2 FG)
Steve Moore -1.1 -0.08 13 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-0 FG), 2 Reb, 2 Blk, 2 TO
Kim English -2.2 -0.10 21 Min, 5 Pts (2-for-8 FG, 0-for-4 3PT, 1-for-2 FT), 2 TO


* 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.

  • Obviously there's no "size of your huevos" measure in the AdjGS numbers, otherwise Zaire Taylor would have finished a lot higher than 7.8 points.
  • Marcus Denmon in the first half: 1-for-4 shooting, 2 points, 2 rebounds
    Marcus Denmon in the second half and OT: 5-for-6 shooting, 14 points, 6 rebounds

    As mentioned earlier, Zaire Taylor is getting all the attention, but this was a super-gritty performance from Denmon when the team needed somebody to step up, especially after English's second-half disappearing act (0-for-2, 2 turnovers in just seven minutes).
  • Before Denmon came on and Taylor won the day, J.T. Tiller was all Mizzou had.  He once again put up efficient shooting numbers and grabbed some key boards.  Granted, he was also a turnover machine late (he had one turnover in the first half, four in the second half and OT), but he carried Mizzou when nobody else was clicking at all.
  • Boy ... from about 16 feet and in, Mike Dixon has been automatic lately (5-for-5 yesterday).  Unfortunately, his 3-point shot has been just horrific.  He is now 2-for-15 from beyond the arc since going 4-for-4 against Oklahoma State on January 30.  Or to put it another way, he is 2-for-15 in all of February and March.  That said, I like his game management as a whole, and his teardrop really is pretty.

    (Just don't get me started on how he lets his man by him immediately on the press every time.  If you get burned coast-to-coast by Scotty Christopherson, you need to work on that.  He seems alright in the half-court, but not so much on the press.)
  • FORTY-ONE MINUTES from Keith Ramsey last night.  FORTY-ONE.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterdays preview.

Make the open ones.

Yeah, Missouri did not so much make their open shots yesterday.  And it damn near cost them.  Sure, they took plenty of iffy shots too, but if they'd just made a healthy percentage of the open ones, they'd have won going away.  Multiple times, they would miss a shot, get a second chance, swing it to somebody for a wide-open jumper (often a 3-pointer), and the shot just wouldn't fall.  Lucky for them, ISU is a poor shooting team too and couldn't take advantage of it.

Gun it.

Per 40 minutes, last night's game was played at a 69-possession pace, just slightly better than the 67-possession pace Mizzou and ISU put together at Mizzou Arena.  In all, Mizzou was almost going too fast at times in the second half, making uncharacteristic "they've sped themselves up too much" mistakes for a while and allowing ISU to hang around even when the Cyclones were shooting horribly and making mistakes themselves.

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

In the first half, Iowa State did it.  In the second half and OT, Mizzou did it.  For the game, they broke even, which is pretty good against a very tall Iowa State lineup.  But the second chances in the first half let ISU hang around a bit more than they should have.  Luckily, they shored it up in the nick of time.

Mizzou in Big 12 Play

Mizzou
Opp.
Points Per Minute
1.83 1.69
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.06 0.99
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.23 1.22
2-PT FG% 44.7% 46.0%
3-PT FG% 36.0% 32.0%
FT% 72.9% 69.0%
True Shooting % 52.7% 51.6%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists/Gm 12.7 11.5
Steals/Gm 9.1 6.3
Turnovers/Gm 13.0 17.7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
1.67 1.01
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.5 12.9
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.1 13.9
Difference -0.4 +1.0

 

Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 11.7 0.50 23.3 MPG, 11.4 PPG (46.7% FG), 2.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
Laurence Bowers 10.7 0.47 22.8 MPG, 9.5 PPG (50.0% FG), 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.2 TOPG
Zaire Taylor 9.9 0.34 28.7 MPG, 9.2 PPG (35.1% FG), 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 TOPG
Justin Safford 9.2 0.42 21.7 MPG, 9.9 PPG (39.8% FG), 4.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 TOPG
Keith Ramsey 8.4 0.31 27.3 MPG, 6.1 PPG (58.1% FG), 5.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 BPG, 2.2 TOPG
Kim English 8.3 0.33 25.1 MPG, 12.2 PPG (35.1% FG), 3.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.0 TOPG
J.T. Tiller 7.2 0.30 23.9 MPG, 8.2 PPG (38.5% FG), 3.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.5 TOPG
Mike Dixon 4.4 0.30 14.6 MPG, 5.7 PPG (43.5% FG)
Miguel Paul 2.0 0.20 9.7 MPG, 2.7 PPG (43.8% FG)
Steve Moore 1.1 0.12 9.3 MPG, 0.9 PPG (30.8% FG), 1.6 RPG

Two horrific offensive games in a row have leveled out Mizzou's offensive progress quite a bit.  They are now shooting almost exactly the same (from an efficiency standpoint) as their opponents, meaning they are completely relying on BCI and rebounding to win.  They still hold a BCI advantage, and they've broken even on the boards for much of the second half of Big 12 play, but they're still very much limiting their margin for error right now ... and the conference's best defensive team comes to town on Saturday.

Meanwhile ... yeah ... Kim English is sixth on the AdjGS/game list.  It's March, Kimmie ... time to turn it on.  And once again ... GO STRAIGHT UP.

Summary

It's easy to get caught up in how miserable most of yesterday's game was, and the stats certainly reflect that.  But here's a trivia question that should give you all the perspective you need: before this season, when was the last time Mizzou went 6-0 versus Iowa State, Nebraska and Colorado in the regular season?

The answer: 1994.

It's really hard to win on the road, especially against teams you see twice (at least) per season.  Even less successful coaches are still usually pretty good at their job, and after enough exposure they'll figure out what you do worst.  Iowa State was able to leverage Mizzou into uncomfortable situations in both games this season, and the fact that Mizzou was able to win both games (and the other four against NU and CU, all by double digits) is an accomplishment we shouldn't overlook.  Now, Mizzou obviously didn't dodge all conference land mines -- there's no way they should have lost to Oklahoma, of course -- but they now stand at 10-5 in one of the best conferences in the country, in a rebuilding year.  Overtime or no overtime, first round bye or no first round bye, that's an accomplishment that should not be overlooked.

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