Study Hall: Mizzou 78, Illinois 74

Your Trifecta: Dixon-PPressey-Ratliffe. Your winner (sort of): DnrW, who got this one in with the very first comment. Now, technically this one shouldn't count because DnrW's No. 2 pick was just "Pressey," but ... it's almost Christmas. I'll be generous.

Well ... we know Missouri can function in the final two minutes of a close game now. Sure, we had to endure a 21-6 Illinois run just to end up in a position where we could verify this, but alas.

Mizzou 78, Illinois 74

Mizzou
Illinois
Pace (No. of Possessions) 70.0
Points Per Minute 1.95 1.85
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.11 1.06
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.32 1.19
2-PT FG% 47.5% 58.7%
3-PT FG% 36.8% 25.0%
FT% 82.6% 80.0%
True Shooting % 56.4% 55.7%
Mizzou Illinois
Assists 13 10
Steals 7 5
Turnovers 13 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.54 0.88
Mizzou Illinois
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 11
Offensive Rebounds 11 12
Difference -1 +1

Sometimes The Full-Game Stats Don't Tell The Story

Over the course of the game, Mizzou shot 37% from 3-point range, held Illinois to 25% on the same shots, nearly doubled the Illini up in terms of ball control, and damn near broke even on the boards. Frame things like this, and it would have seemed like Mizzou won by 15. They, uh, did not.

The momentum swings, both large and small, were ridiculous in this one.

1H, 20:00 to 14:48: Illinois 7, Mizzou 2
1H, 14:48 to 12:58: Mizzou 17, Illinois 2
1H, 1:46 to Halftime: Mizzou 6, Illinois 0
2H: 18:46 to 16:50: Illinois 9, Mizzou 4
2H: 16:50 to 15:16: Mizzou 5, Illinois 0
2H: 15:16 to 7:00: Illinois 21, Mizzou 6
2H: 2:02 to 0:56: Mizzou 7, Illinois 0

Within each of these episodes came complete changes in confidence, success, execution, effort and everything else. This was a season-long drama wrapped into 40 minutes.

Bertrand In The Competition

I wrote yesterday that it was impossible to know what to expect from Illinois' bench. As many as 12 Illini have made contributions at some point this year, but none were guaranteed. Illinois absolutely needed somebody to step up for them to have a chance, however, and Joseph Bertrand did exactly that. He came into the game averaging 11 minutes and three points per game; the 6'5 sophomore played 28 minutes (mostly at the No. 4 spot, in place of the ineffective Tyler Griffey), made all nine of his field goal attempts, scored 19 points, and grabbed three offensive rebounds; eighteen of those minutes and 17 of those points came after halftime. Basketball is a game of tiny, momentary matchups, and credit Bruce Weber for stumbling across one that very much worked; it not only kept Illinois close, it gave them a chance to win.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 22.5 0.80 28 Min, 18 Pts (3-8 FG, 2-3 3PT, 10-12 FT), 4 Ast, 2 Reb
Phil Pressey 16.0 0.44 36 Min, 18 Pts (7-15 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-4 FT), 5 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 11.8 0.62 19 Min, 14 Pts (7-10 FG, 0-1 FT), 4 Reb (3 Off), 3 TO
Matt Pressey 9.2 0.32 29 Min, 10 Pts (3-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-3 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Kim English 7.5 0.21 36 Min, 8 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-1 FT), 8 Reb, 2 Ast
Steve Moore 7.1 0.34 21 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 5 Reb, (3 Off), 3 Blk
Marcus Denmon 2.2 0.07 31 Min, 8 Pts (2-9 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Ast, 3 TO
  • Mike Dixon is a tough, tough S.O.B. He is 6-foot-1 and listed at 185 pounds (soaking wet, maybe) ... and he continuously threw himself down the lane and at the basket. He hit the ground at least five or six times, earned over half of Missouri's free throws, and made an enormous three pointer with 4:43 left to give his reeling Tigers the lead again. He earned so much goodwill from me that I didn't even mind when he launched a very ill-advised, quick 3-pointer on the very next possession. Perhaps even more than Marcus Denmon, Dixon goes for the kill shot during a game. He is part-Clarence Gilbert (going for the dagger 3), part-Anthony Peeler (attacking the rim and drawing contact), and part-Jason Sutherland (F***-You demeanor), and one could make the case that he has made himself the second-most important player on this team.
  • Oh, Flip Pressey. You flashed back to last year for a while there, didn't you? But whether Frank Haith stuck with Flip because he had no choice (there aren't exactly many options on the bench) or because this was a prime opportunity for a Teaching Moment, Pressey played 38 minutes, fought through some sloppy play and a temporary identity crisis ... and in the end, made a fancy pass to Ricardo Ratliffe to give Mizzou the lead with 2:50 left and, on the game-clinching possession, ran the clock down, took his defender off the dribble, and made a layup to give Mizzou a five-point lead with 12 seconds left. It wasn't pretty, and in the absence of the Big Game version of Marcus Denmon, Pressey tried to shoulder a bit too much of the scoring load himself. But Mizzou won, and he ended up being a primary reason why.
  • Steve Moore and Ricardo Ratliffe combined to grab three defensive rebounds. Big Kimmie English, meanwhile, grabbed seven. Matt Pressey pulled down another five. Pretty sure that's the definition of "team rebounding." Meanwhile...
  • ...Matt Pressey contributed almost as much to the box score as Kim English and Marcus Denmon combined. And Mizzou won. If you showed me English's and Denmon's combined stat lines -- 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, five turnovers -- I very much wouldn't have expected a win.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Dixon 23% 48% 4.1 59% 20% 21% 0%
P. Pressey 27% 43% 4.0 59% 30% 6% 6%
Ratliffe 34% 47% 2.1 0% 73% 5% 22%
M. Pressey 19% 32% 1.2 0% 66% 17% 17%
English 13% 34% 1.2 38% 45% 4% 13%
Moore 5% 45% 0.3 0% 100% 0% 0%
Denmon 20% 26% 2.9 57% 29% 4% 10%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (No.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (No.)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (No.)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (No.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Yes!)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (No.)

Mizzou spent a good portion of the game reactivating last year's often bogged-down offense, and in terms of style, they departed drastically from what tends to win them games (they were only 2-for-7 on the checklist above). And again, they won. There is certainly something to be said for that.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

The 3-Point Line

The 3-pointer is a fickle mistress. In theory, Mizzou holds a significant advantage on the 3-point line, particularly on offense. But no matter how open the shots are, and no matter how good the shooter may be ... sometimes the ball just doesn't go through the basket. (And for Missouri players not named Mike Dixon, the outside shots really haven't fallen for Mizzou in the last couple of games.) And Illinois is a good enough defensive rebounding team that if the shots are rimming out, Mizzou doesn't necessarily have a clear Plan B.

Mizzou: 7-for-19 (37%) on 3-pointers
Illinois: 4-for-16 (25%) on 3-pointers

Mizzou was only 2-for-9 in the second half (Illinois: 2-for-7), but again ... the full-game stats went Mizzou's way, even if they played their worst 10 minutes of the season in the second half.

The Hacktastic

Mizzou has been one of the best teams in the country in terms of avoiding fouls this year, and Illinois doesn't draw too many of them. But one player does a decent job in this regard: Meyers Leonard. If Ricardo Ratliffe picks up two early fouls, and then perhaps Steve Moore does the same, then Mizzou could be in trouble.

Fouls: Illinois 16, Mizzou 13.

For the game, the fouls worked out well for Mizzou, but it briefly looked like the worst-case scenario was going to come true. Ricardo Ratliffe picked up his first foul two minutes into the game, his second ten minutes in. Meanwhile, Marcus Denmon picked up his second just 11 minutes in. Mizzou was forced to play without both for a long stretch of time, but thanks to the contributions of Steve Moore (two points, three blocks, four rebounds in the first half) and Matt Pressey (five points, two rebounds), they still led by 11 at halftime.

Marcus Denmon

Mizzou has played three "real" games (games either on the road or versus major conference competition), all on a neutral (or semi-neutral) court. In those three games, Marcus Denmon has averaged 24.0 points (on 63% shooting), grabbed 5.0 rebounds and dished 2.3 assists per game. He has been simply spectacular when Mizzou has needed him to be. And when he's on like that, almost nothing else matters -- he's going to make sure Mizzou wins. He has been less than impressive (for him, anyway) in the last couple of games, but if he raises his game tonight ... then Mizzou probably wins no matter what.

In terms of Adj. Points, Denmon had by far his worst game of the season. The only game that was even close to this one, actually, was his last one (William & Mary). Two games does not a trend make, so we're not going to worry about Mr. Denmon just yet, but it certainly meant quite a few other Tigers had to raise their games. Phil Pressey succeeded, then failed, then succeeded again at exactly that. So did Dixon.

Summary

12-0, baby. It looked like it would be an easy win for a while, but it wasn't, and Illinois deserves a lot of credit for that. While Mizzou was making silly mistakes, Illinois was still playing strong defense and catching fire offensively. But Mizzou persevered and, when Illinois punched themselves out (21-5 runs typically take quite a bit out of you), they made every play they needed to make down the stretch. This is an experienced, seasoned team, and just because they hadn't faced much adversity this year didn't mean they couldn't handle themselves when it presented itself (and it always presents itself). It took a while to stabilize, but ... winner, winner.

---

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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