Alright, let's pick the scab...
Your trifecta: Bowers-Ramsey-Taylor. That's right. Bowers-Ramsey-Taylor. We'll investigate how that happens below. But first ... your winner: NOBODY. SHOCKING.
Kansas 77, Missouri 56
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||40.3%||60.5%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||15||10|
A Game of Runs
This game saw four major runs, two from each team. Unfortunately, Kansas showed just how absolutely frightening they are during their runs -- when they sniff blood, they grab every rebound, they shoot about 85%, and they absolutely murder you.
Mizzou Run #1: Mizzou 13, Kansas 5 (put Mizzou up 17-10)
Kansas Run #1: Kansas 18, Mizzou 0 (put Kansas up 42-24)
Mizzou Run #2: Mizzou 16, Kansas 2 (cut Kansas' lead to 44-40)
Kansas Run #2: Kansas 22, Mizzou 4 (expanded Kansas' lead to 66-44)
In Mizzou's two runs, they outscored Kansas 29-7. Not bad at all.
In Kansas' two runs, they outscored Mizzou 40-4. Good god.
Can't Shoot, Can't Win
When these two teams played at Allen Field House in January, Mizzou had a True Shooting % of 41.4% (terrible) and averaged 0.89 points per possession. This afternoon, despite better ball movement and a multitude of better looks ... Mizzou had a True Shooting % of 40.3% and averaged 0.83 points per possession. As they have all season, Mizzou once again proved that shooting is contagious with them. Oklahoma State proved that to beat KU you have to get super hot, preferably from 3-point range. Going 3-for-22 from beyond the arc is, to say the least, not going to get the job done. Marcus Denmon was shooting blanks, Zaire Taylor had Senior Day jitters (I guess), and for the game's first 37 minutes, only Kim English made a 3-pointer. And he made just two.
For the third straight game without Justin Safford, Mizzou averaged fewer than 0.90 points per possession (their season average: 1.10) ... and for the third straight game, I'm left wondering how much of it actually had to do with Safford's absence. Mizzou's bigs went 9-for-17 on 2-pointers today, which isn't great, but it really isn't any worse than they'd have done with Safford in the lineup taking some of those shots. Instead, Mizzou's guards once again missed good looks that they have to be able to make, and it's pretty frightening. Mizzou is now 11-for-59 from 3-point range (18.6%) in the last three games, after going 20-for-33 (60.6%) against Nebraska and Colorado. Yes, the competition has improved in (at least two of) the last three games, but still ... that's a ridiculous difference.
We head to the postseason with no clue whatsoever what to expect. If Mizzou can't make open shots against Nebraska, they might lose and limp into the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed or so. But if they find their misplaced stroke, they could pretty easily find themselves with a third shot at Kansas in the Big 12 semis on Friday. It is a complete crapshoot at this point.
Bad Shooting and Bad Luck? That's just mean.
I mean ... exactly how many times did Mizzou tip a KU pass (or missed shot) right to an open KU player? It's not really far to get horribly outplayed AND get no breaks.
The Talent Gap
So ... let's just say that Mizzou's two games against Kansas this year were not the best "Recruiting rankings don't matter" argument. Bill Self has put together a pretty sickening amount of talent in Lawrence this year, and if you put together enough talent and mix in a little experience, then you can absolutely run decent teams off the court sometimes.
To take a look at the "talent gap" between KU and the two rivals who thought they had a chance to knock them off this week, let's look at each team's top ten in terms of minutes per game, and the star ratings Rivals.com gave them when they were recruited. The players with the strikethrough font are either seniors or players I'm expecting to go pro after this season (i.e. Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich). It is, of course, possible that somebody surprising goes pro (Curtis Kelly, Marcus Morris), but it's not likely. My best guess is, Henry and Aldrich will be gone and that's it. This also ignores any potential transfers, of course.
|Curtis Kelly||5||Kim English||3|
|Marcus Morris||4||Jamar Samuels||3|
|Tyshawn Taylor||4||Dominique Sutton||4||Laurence Bowers||3|
|Brady Morningstar||3||Marcus Denmon||3|
|Markieff Morris||4||Rodney McGruder||4||Justin Safford||3|
|Tyrel Reed||3||Wally Judge||5||Mike Dixon, Jr.||3|
|C.J. Henry||3||Martavious Irving||3||Miguel Paul||3|
|Thomas Robinson||4||Jordan Henriquez-
It's actually a little surprising to realize that K-State is that close to Kansas in terms of star ratings -- Curtis Kelly was initially a 5-star signee for UConn a few years ago, we all know about Wally Judge's resume, and both Dominique Sutton and Rodney McGruder were highly-touted as well. Of course, in terms of top five players, neither KSU (18) nor Mizzou (14) can come close to KU (22).
However, look what happens next season. Players in italics are my best guess for who will be filling the empty rotation spots.
|Marcus Morris||4||Jacob Pullen||3||Kim English||3|
|Tyshawn Taylor||4||Curtis Kelly||5||Laurence Bowers||3|
|Brady Morningstar||3||Jamar Samuels||3||Marcus Denmon||3|
|Markieff Morris||4||Dominique Sutton||4||Justin Safford||3|
|Tyrel Reed||3||Rodney McGruder||4||Mike Dixon, Jr.||3|
|C.J. Henry||3||Wally Judge||5||Miguel Paul||3|
|Thomas Robinson||4||Martavious Irving||3||Steve Moore||3|
|Mario Little||4||Jordan Henriquez-
|3||John Underwood /
|Elijah Johnson||5||Nick Russell||3||5|
|Travis Releford||4||3||Phil Pressey||4|
Even though KU has had the 'problem' of not being able to fit a 5-star signee (PG Elijah Johnson) into the rotation this season, the loss of two 5-star players (Collins, X. Henry) will drop their overall star total a smidge. KSU's will stay the same ... and Mizzou's rises a pretty significant amount.
Now ... this doesn't take into account experience or system fit, and I know that. But it's nice to see that in the near future, the overall talent gap will close at least a little bit. Whatever it takes to get to sleep at night, right?
Mizzou Player Stats
|Laurence Bowers||15.4||0.53||29 Min, 10 Pts (5-for-11 FG), 6 Reb (3 Off), 3 Blk, 2 Stl|
|Keith Ramsey||12.5||0.35||36 Min, 8 Pts (4-for-8 FG, 0-for-2 3PT), 6 Reb (4 Off), 2 Ast|
|Zaire Taylor||9.0||0.28||32 Min, 5 Pts (2-for-9 FG, 1-for-5 3PT), 4 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 Ast|
|Kim English||8.6||0.29||30 Min, 16 Pts (4-for-14 FG, 2-for-6 3PT, 6-for-8 FT), 2 Reb, 3 TO|
|Miguel Paul||4.8||0.97||5 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-0 FG), 3 Ast|
|J.T. Tiller||3.9||0.14||27 Min, 9 Pts (4-for-7 FG), 3 Reb, 4 TO|
|Mike Dixon||1.9||0.16||12 Min, 4 Pts (2-for-6 FG, 0-for-2 3PT)|
|Steve Moore||-0.8||-0.08||10 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-1 FG), 2 Blk|
|Marcus Denmon||-1.4||-0.07||19 Min, 4 Pts (2-for-9 FG, 0-for-5 3PT), 3 Reb (3 Off), 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.
- You know you probably didn't win when your three trifecta players combined for just 23 points.
- While his shooting numbers ended up looking average at best, this was a helluva performance from Laurence Bowers. He was the catalyst of Mizzou's first run. He was grabbing boards, blocking shots on the break, making jumpers, and doing everything he possibly could to build a lead for the Tigers. He was outstanding today.
- Keith Ramsey was just horrific offensively, shooting a couple of ill-advised (to say the least) 3's and making a couple of awful passes. Meanwhile, he played stellar defense, but not in ways that reflect in the box score -- he had just one steal and no blocks. But his work on the offensive glass and the simple fact that he didn't shoot terribly (4-for-6 on 2-pointers) got him a surprise second-place finish in the trifecta.
- Last week against K-State, Steve Moore scored zero points and ended up with third place in the trifecta. Today, the Steve Moore Award went to Zaire Taylor, who scored an egregious five points on nine shots but, thanks to his steals, rebounds and passing, still managed to make a decent impact on the game as a whole.
- Kim English brought his A-game today ... at times. When Mizzou was making their two runs, he was right in the thick of it. But when it was clear that a majority of his teammates didn't have much going on today, Good Kimmeh started making some Bad Kimmie mistakes. His three turnovers and ten missed shots ended up unexpectedly dropping him out of the trifecta.
- Miguel Paul played five minutes and took zero shots ... and was fifth in AdjGS. Yikes.
(In other news, his three assists in five minutes is pretty damn impressive, no?)
- Once again, Mike Dixon shot well on 2's (2-for-4) and horribly on 3's (0-for-2). His is a mid-range game, and while he's shown during a couple of streaks that he does have the potential to make 3's, his shot is the opposite of reliable right now.
Actually ... it is reliable, really. Just not the good kind of reliable. LOVE this kid, though, and I still can't wait to see what he's capable of in the coming seasons.
- Marcus, Marcus, Marcus. Just don't really ever know what to expect from you.
Three Keys Revisited
From yesterday's preview.
The Two-Knockdown Rule Is In Effect
Indeed, Mizzou survived one knockdown (the one that quickly erased Mizzou's 7-point lead) ... but not two. The 16-0 run that ended the first half was an absolute debacle in every way. What was a 6-point game with 2:00 left in the first half, was a 16-point game two minutes later thanks to a series of Mizzou misses, two Sherron Collins 3's, and a Collins steal-and-layup at the buzzer. Yes, Mizzou clawed back to within four points, resulting in another huge KU run (and the rare double-knockout), but the 16-0 run was exactly what KU has done all year, and it was exactly what Mizzou had to avoid.
Mizzou was -6 in terms of expected rebounds, and you know what? I'm okay with that. That's really not too bad against a huge team like Kansas. Unfortunately, they just missed too many damn shots for it to matter.
It's Your Time, Kim
Kim English showed up, ready to play his part today. So did Laurence Bowers. Others? Not so much.
Mizzou in Big 12 Play
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||52.0%||52.1%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
|Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm||13.6||12.8|
|Laurence Bowers||10.9||0.47||23.2 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 APG, 1.2 TOPG|
|Marcus Denmon||10.9||0.48||23.0 MPG, 10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG|
|Zaire Taylor||9.8||0.34||28.9 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.1 TOPG|
|Justin Safford||9.3||0.43||21.7 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 TOPG|
|Keith Ramsey||8.6||0.31||27.8 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 BPG, 2.1 TOPG|
|Kim English||8.3||0.33||25.4 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.1 TOPG|
|J.T. Tiller||7.0||0.29||24.1 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.6 TOPG|
|Mike Dixon||4.3||0.30||14.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG|
|Miguel Paul||2.1||0.23||9.4 MPG, 2.5 PPG|
|Steve Moore||1.0||0.11||9.3 MPG, 0.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG|
Since Justin Safford's injury, Mizzou's offensive numbers have plummeted, while their rebounding and defensive numbers have improved ... just as we guessed would happen.
We'll get into how the Big 12 Tourney shapes up for Mizzou later. For now, we'll just say that it's funny how right we were about both Missouri at the beginning of the season. We knew they would still be good defensively, we knew they would be athletic, we knew they had enough young, explosive talent in guys like Kim English that they would have some great games. Of course, we also knew they would be young and inconsistent, we knew they would not be the best rebounding team in the world ... and we were quite concerned that this team just didn't have enough pure offensive talent to play at a sustained, high level. Sure enough, that's what we saw this year.
Of course, when you see every game a team plays, you come to realize that being an iffy offensive team doesn't mean being equally iffy every game. Some games, they have been unstoppable. Hell, they entered today ranked 35th in the country in 3-point percentage. They were 113th last season! Of course, when it's off, it's off even worse than we feared. It's "shooting 13.6% from 3-point range, at home, against their #1 rival" off. Whenever Mizzou does lose in the NCAA Tournament, shooting will probably take them down.
But in the meantime, they a) still have quite a bit of potential to win a few more games, and b) no matter what happens the rest of the season, even if they go 0-2 and it's over, they have already achieved the baseline level of what they needed to achieve this year: simply making the NCAA Tournament. Even if they lose to Nebraska, they're in. They were picked 7th in the conference, were not expected to make the tourney, and they're going to make the tourney. They're working on closing the talent gap, their sophomores will be juniors next year, and a game like today's -- a stupid, stupid, crappy, unlucky, straight-up bad game -- is just a bump in the road.