Study Hall: Colorado

Your Trifecta: Bowers-Dixon-Ratliffe.  Your winner: nobody.  We had a lot of people close on this one, but the lack of Ratliffe votes seemed to be people's downfall.

I know as an Internet sports fan, I'm supposed to full of remorseless rage when my team loses to a team that, to date, had been its lesser in just about every way.  Colorado came into this game having gone just 3-4 versus Top 200 teams and played near-atrocious defense most of the year.  But yesterday in Boulder, they dictated the pace, didn't start fading until about 30-32 minutes had passed (when they intentionally slowed the tempo), and even then had enough trick shots in the bag to keep their distance against a Mizzou team that was finally getting it together.  I said in the preview that Colorado tends to jump up and play great against heavyweights a few times a year, but they hadn't done it to Mizzou in a while.  Well ... now they've done it to Mizzou.

As long as Mizzou bounces back well, and takes this as a reminder that every remaining team on the schedule can throw haymakers when given the opportunity (they were pretty obviously taken aback by this yesterday, especially in the opening minutes), we will look back on this game as a "S*** Happens" loss.  Just tip your cap, grumble about your team getting outhustled, take a parting shot at some spiteful officiating down the stretch (obvious disclaimer: Colorado would have almost certainly beaten Mizzou without that T ... but that doesn't mean it wasn't spiteful and unprofessional), and move on to what will be a bloodbath against Nebraska on Wednesday night.  If this level of performance is what it takes to beat a Missouri team that didn't even shoot very well from the field, then Mizzou is still in pretty good shape.

Colorado 89, Mizzou 76

Mizzou
CU
Pace (No. of Possessions)
72.8
Points Per Minute
1.90 2.23
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.04 1.22
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.10 1.29
2-PT FG% 45.3% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 25.0% 36.4%
FT% 88.9% 82.6%
True Shooting % 49.4% 56.2%
Mizzou CU
Assists 13 14
Steals 8 6
Turnovers 9 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.33 2.00
Mizzou CU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 15 14
Offensive Rebounds 11 16
Difference -4 +2

Colorado Didn't Shoot Nearly As Well As You Remembered...

...really, it was just Alec Burks and Levi Knutson (mostly Burks) who spent the afternoon in Superman capes

Burks and Knutson: 13-for-23 two-pointers (57%), 4-for-5 three-pointers (80%), 11-for-13 free throws (85%)

Rest of Colorado: 16-for-35 two-pointers (46%), 0-for-6 three-pointers (0%), 8-for-10 free throws (0%)

Colorado's collective ability to shoot free throws made it very difficult to play catch-up against them (Burks was 9-for-11, Cory Higgins 6-for-6), but while we will remember this game for the stupid, ridiculous, Clarence Gilbert-esque "Make that again, I dare you" shots that Burks spent most of the afternoon making, when you look at season averages, Mizzou's offense underachieved a lot more than Colorado's offense overachieved.

We Owe the Coors Event Center Some New Rims.

You often hear that opponents wear down in Boulder's thin air, making it a hard place to play a full 40 minutes.  That's great.  So ... what explanation do we have for the fact that Mizzou was front-rimming almost every shot they took from the opening tip?  Front-rimming shots is typically the first sign of fatigue, but between that and Colorado's ability to step into passing lanes, Mizzou was a step slow very, very early in the game.  (Kim English more than anybody.) It is a bit discombobulating to watch a Mike Anderson team suffering from that malady, but Colorado came ready to play and Mizzou clearly did not.  Kudos to Colorado for that.

Two-pointers
Mizzou's Season Off. Average: 52.4%
Colorado's Season Def. Average: 46.8%
Mizzou Versus Colorado: 45.3%

Three-pointers
Mizzou Season Off. Average: 39.2%
Colorado's Season Def. Average: 36.3%
Mizzou Versus Colorado: 25.0%

Really, only free throws allowed Mizzou to think about a comeback.  Mizzou shot 89% from the line yesterday, 17% above their solid season average.

If Mizzou had made the percentage of shots they could have been expected to make (49.6% of two-pointers, 37.8% of three-pointers -- the direct combination of their and Colorado's season averages), they'd have made three more two-pointers and two more three-pointers ... 12 more points in a game they lost by 13.  Combine all of this with the fact that Colorado had more steals than Missouri for a good portion of the game, and they significantly outhustled Mizzou on the boards, and you have ... well, you have a conference road loss.  Again, as long as Mizzou uses this as a reminder of what every opponent is capable of, then this could be a good experience.  Everybody in the country outside of the A+ tier of programs (which, this year, is basically Duke and Kansas) needs wake-up calls occasionally.  I expected one against Old Dominion and didn't get it.  I was a week or two too early in my worry, I guess.

You Know It's Not Your Game When...

* Your opponent is making 19-foot, turnaround fadeaways with a second left on the shot clock.

* You block a very impressive 10 shots ... and five of the last six go directly to another Colorado player while you are attempting a comeback.

* Levi Knutson is pulling killer spin moves on Kim English.

* Your best player gets called for a technical foul because he did not flip the ball to the ref happily enough.

I'm sure there are some that I'm missing.  The end-of-shot-clock turnaround was what did me in.  Mizzou continued to keep things relatively close after that, but I was done, resigned to defeat.  Underdog home teams are undefeated all-time when they make stupid end-of-shot-clock shots that they wouldn't even try in a game of H-O-R-S-E.  Okay, I'm probably exaggerating, but you don't know that for sure, do you...

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 20.1 0.65 31 Min, 15 Pts (6-11 FG, 3-4 FT), 8 Blk, 7 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO
Mike Dixon 18.1 0.73 25 Min, 17 Pts (5-11 FG, 1-3 3PT, 6-6 FT), 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 PF
Ricardo Ratliffe 14.7 0.51 29 Min, 11 Pts (5-8 FG, 1-1 FT), 8 Reb (4 Off)
Marcus Denmon 12.6 0.38 33 Min, 14 Pts (6-12 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-1 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 PF
Phil Pressey 2.8 0.31 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 3 Stl
Kim English 2.6 0.11 23 Min, 7 Pts (2-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-2 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Ast
Justin Safford 2.3 0.15 15 Min, 4 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb
Matt Pressey 2.2 0.08 28 Min, 8 Pts (3-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO
Steve Moore 0.8 0.19 4 Min, 0 Pts
Ricky Kreklow -0.5 -0.17 3 Min, 0 Pts
  • Tremendously Bowers-esque game from Bowers yesterday.  He's never going to carry a team to victory offensively -- he's always going to need help from a Denmon, Dixon or English -- but wow did he bring a lot to the table yesterday without taking a lot off.  He could have thrown in a couple more defensive rebounds, I guess (31 minutes is a long time for a big to only grab five defensive rebounds), but he was Mizzou's best player yesterday regardless.  The eight blocks were a nice touch ... even if most of them landed in the hands of another Colorado player.
  • Mike Dixon is Mizzou's best player in Comeback Mode.  He is relentless, and he seems to take advantage of opponents' assumptions that Mizzou is going to start taking a lot of 3-pointers.  He is a remorseless penetrator of the ball when the Tigers need points.  Yesterday he apparently needed to start trying to take over five minutes into the game, unfortunately.
  • Ratliffe had a quietly nice game, though with Mizzou's size advantages you could make the case that he and Bowers should have combined for more than 26 points and 15 rebounds.  Regardless, he bounced back pretty well from his lifeless performance against North Alabama.  No more D2 opponents for Ricardo (though I should also mention that there was a rumor that he was ill for the UNA game ... if that's the case, I take back the annoyed comments).
  • Not Marcus Denmon's finest hour.  Mizzou went on a 12-2 run over a four-minute span that constituted the "fight's" fourth round; in that run, Denmon went 4-for-4 with three layups and a 3-pointer.  Quick math: that means he went 2-for-8 in his other 29 minutes on the court.  Colorado did a great job of denying him, but if they're overcompensating for one player, that's when others are supposed to come open and step up.
  • Kim English did not.  He was short-rimming from the opening tip, and ... I guess maybe he was just due a bad performance in the thin air.  In his two previous trips to Boulder, he was 7-for-15 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point range.  Regression to the mean is pretty harsh sometimes.
  • It didn't reflect considerably in the box score, but Mizzou got some great minutes out of Phil Pressey yesterday.  Considering he was one-handed and couldn't shoot -- his best opportunity was a fast-break lay-up in which he went triple-clutch-reverse to avoid contact -- he gave Mizzou a huge shot in the arm as the game started to sink under the 12-minute mark.  He was able to harass Colorado into three steals in nine minutes, and he gave us a hint of where he could take Mizzou's second string when he is back and closer to 100%.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Laurence Bowers 22% 43% 1.5 0% 66% 22% 12%
Mike Dixon 27% 46% 3.2 40% 38% 19% 3%
Ricardo Ratliffe 15% 54% 1.5 37% 51% 6% 6%
Marcus Denmon 19% 46% 2.1 46% 47% 3% 4%
Phil Pressey 10% 16% 2.4 75% 25% 0% 0%
Kim English 24% 23% 2.9 48% 40% 8% 4%
Justin Safford 18% 32% 2.3 46% 39% 15% 0%
Matt Pressey 23% 30% 3.2 54% 31% 6% 9%
Steve Moore 0% N/A 4.0 100% 0% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 0% N/A 0.0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • First impression from this table: not enough passing.  At least, not enough successful passing.  Bowers and Dixon drew fouls, and nobody really turned the ball over a lot ... but in assuming a more aggressive role out of necessity, Dixon's %Pass was 30% below his season average, and without Dixon's direction, it was kind of a free-for-all.  Pressey obviously passed a lot (he wasn't going to shoot unless he had to), but ... when your third-best %Pass belongs to kamikaze Justin Safford, you know something's off.

    Credit Colorado for part of this.  Knowing Mizzou was a step slow, and knowing they like to reverse the ball around the perimeter as much as possible, they threw themselves into passing lanes, and it affected Mizzou's flow quite a bit.  Again ... if this defensive version of Colorado shows up the rest of the year, they could make some noise.  But until they do it more than once, it qualifies as "just one of those games."

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Back atcha

Congratulations, you scored.  Now you better get back downcourt because it's our turn.  That is the Mike Anderson way, and against a team as bipolar as Colorado -- great on offense, not so much on D -- it is Mizzou's key to victory.  Mizzou's team defense has improved significantly in the last month, but Colorado is the best all-around offensive team Mizzou has faced since probably Georgetown.  The key to breaking CU's will is responding, and probably quickly.  Colorado isn't a slow team, but they're not a fast one.  Quick responses will both force Colorado to keep it up on the offensive end, but it will also get them moving and thinking faster than they like.  Mike Anderson's system isn't just about forcing turnovers; speeding you up can do more than simply lead to steals, it can lead to bad decisions as well.  That's what will win Missouri the game.

Mizzou just didn't have that extra gear, and a lot of that was Colorado's doing.  In the first half, Mizzou's "Back atcha" attempts were just as likely to end up in an easy Colorado basket as anything else.

BCI! BCI!

Colorado's offensive BCI is damn good, primarily because they don't turn the ball over.  However it comes about -- via turnovers, assists or steals -- Mizzou will need to beat Colorado in the BCI battle.  It's hard to imagine Colorado winning this game if they don't outperform Mizzou in this area.

Thanks to the last ten minutes, Mizzou ended up winning the BCI battle.  I don't have first-half data available for this one, but let's just say I'm pretty sure CU won that battle ... and since they won the first half by 12 in a game they won by 13, I think the first half might have had a bit of an impact, huh?  We'll remember this game because of Burks' ridiculous shots, but really, CU won the game in the first 20 minutes.  Burks saved the game in the second 20 minutes.

Kim English

Now you've done it, Kimmeh.  You have all Missouri fans envisioning how the next three months could play out if Marcus Denmon AND Good Kimmeh are in the backcourt at the same time.  No pressure or anything, but ... now you have to play like you did against North Alabama, each game for the next 16 games.  Against this defense, lord knows you'll have some open looks.  Now make them.

Yeah ... um, Kimmeh was a bit disappointing to say the least.  With Colorado seemingly overcompensating for Denmon, English got some looks and just missed them.  And then he started forcing the issue and doing even worse.

Summary

S*** happens.  Expect some haymakers from Nebraska on Wednesday night -- no coach enjoys going up against Missouri more than Doc Sadler.  Mizzou will have to respond.

 

---

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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