Know Your Hilton Magic Rival: Iowa State

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My anti-social, contrarian tendencies take odd turns sometimes.  While my natural inclination is to push back when things get too negative, I sometimes do the same in the opposite direction too.  The more confident people are about a given game (especially a given road game), the more concerned I get.  With Iowa State improving ever so slightly in recent weeks and Mizzou hearing "They can't win on the road!" nonstop for three weeks, I've grown a little paranoid about tomorrow's game at Hilton.  Mizzou should by all means win, but ... I'm paranoid, is all.

Last Time

Iowa State's trip to Mizzou Arena on January 22 was a nightmare in just about every way possible.  The Cyclones' fast tempo and lack of depth got them massacred when their outside shots didn't fall.  Mizzou and ISU played at an incredible pace -- 86 possessions -- and while Fred Hoiberg wants ISU playing fast ... that was simply too much.  Mizzou committed 18 turnovers, didn't catch fire from 3-point range (34.5%) and only broke even on the offensive glass ... but they won by 33 because ISU couldn't shoot (31.3% on 2-pointers, 18.2% on 3-pointers) and got creamed on their own offensive glass (-10 in terms of offensive rebounds).

The good news for ISU is that it can't get any worse than that.  They're a decent shooting team, and they almost certainly won't shoot that poorly again.  (If we're talking about regression to the mean, then they're due about a 108% shooting day tomorrow.  Which would be impressive.)  Meanwhile, while they're a poor rebounding team overall, they're almost guaranteed to at least do better than minus-10.  Everything went right for Mizzou at Mizzou Arena, and everything will not go right at Hilton.  The only question is, can things actually go 33 points better for ISU?  Possibly, but probably not.

Iowa State (14-12) Since Last Time


ISU
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
73.2
Points Per Minute
1.75 2.11
Points Per Possession (PPP)
0.97 1.18
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.13 1.35
2-PT FG% 43.4% 54.4%
3-PT FG% 34.8% 40.9%
FT% 80.6% 70.5%
True Shooting % 51.0% 59.6%




ISU Opp.
Assists/Gm 14.1 19.6
Steals/Gm 5.6 7.1
Turnovers/Gm 14.6 12.4
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.35 2.15




ISU Opp.
Expected Off. Reb./Gm 13.7 12.3
Offensive Reb./Gm
10.0 11.3
Difference -3.7 -1.0

ISU was actually considered a bit of a success story when they came to Mizzou Arena.  Sure, they were 1-3 in conference, but they had lost to OSU in OT, Nebraska by a point in Lincoln, and Kansas by five at Hilton.  They were the definition of a "good 1-3."  Now ... they're 1-10.  They've predictably shot much better than they did against Missouri, but they haven't been able to stop anybody.  Opponents have been shooting 41% from long range against them, and they have fallen victim to ball movement -- 19.6 assists per game allowed?  Ouch.  Meanwhile, aside from one specific player, they still can't grab offensive boards (they're solid on the defensive glass), and they turn the ball over too much.

BUT ... after an initial slump, they've improved, as we'll see below.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

ISU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

ISU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 93 52 MU
Effective FG% 90 128 ISU
Turnover % 35 15 MU
Off. Reb. % 270 282 Push
FTA/FGA 341 230 MU Big
MU Offense vs ISU Defense Ranks

MU Offense ISU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 18 63 MU
Effective FG% 34 71 MU
Turnover % 10 129 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 156 187 MU
FTA/FGA 278 19 ISU Big

This game will likely be decided by Iowa State's FG% and Off. Reb. %.  The Cyclones have some nice outside shooters, and none of them were worth a damn in Columbia; but we know that strong outside shooting has been an issue for Mizzou's D at times, so that's a bit of a concern.  Meanwhile, in terms of full-season data, ISU's offensive rebounding is still listed as a 'push'.  Mizzou dominated the glass in Columbia, but it will be pretty difficult for them to do so again.

Results Since Last Time

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    None
  • Losses
    at No. 3 Kansas, 66-89
    No. 37 Kansas State, 85-86
    at No. 45 Texas A&M, 66-71
    at No. 57 Colorado, 69-95
    No. 128 Oklahoma, 76-82 (OT)
    No. 136 Texas Tech, 83-92

Iowa State completely bottomed out after the Mizzou loss.  They got Texas Tech and Oklahoma at home ... and lost to both teams.  Yuck.  Then they got romped by 26 points in Boulder.  Their losing streak has extended to eight since then, but things have improved.  They lost to Kansas State via last-second Pullen shot two weeks ago, then after taking their medicine in Lawrence, they damn near knocked off Texas A&M in College Station.  Granted, A&M is not the team now that they were a month ago, but still.  Iowa State has, without a doubt, played better ball over the last couple of weeks.

Player Stats Since Last Time

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Scotty Christopherson (6'3, 195, Jr.) 16.4 0.44 37.0 MPG, 14.7 PPG (60.0% 2PT, 37.2% 3PT, 86.7% FT), 3.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 TOPG
Diante Garrett (6'4, 190, Sr.) 14.8 0.39 37.7 MPG, 16.3 PPG (38.2% 2PT, 37.0% 3PT, 91.7% FT), 5.6 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 3.7 TOPG
Jake Anderson (6'2, 205, Sr.) 12.7 0.37 34.4 MPG, 14.0 PPG (38.3% 2PT, 44.4% 3PT, 88.9% FT), 6.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.9 TOPG
Calvin Godfrey (6'8, 230, Fr.) 11.4 0.64 17.8 MPG, 7.3 PPG (47.8% FG, 77.8% FT), 5.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
Melvin Ejim (6'6, 215, Fr.) 10.0 0.36 27.6 MPG, 9.0 PPG (45.2% 2PT, 23.1% 3PT, 69.6% FT), 7.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.0 TOPG
Jamie Vanderbeken (6'11, 240, Sr.) 6.0 0.22 26.8 MPG, 8.3 PPG (52.4% 2PT, 27.3% 3PT, 90.9% FT), 3.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 2.2 TOPG
Bubu Palo (6'1, 175, RSFr.) 4.0 0.21 19.1 MPG, 3.4 PPG (33.3% 2PT, 22.2% 3PT, 80.0% FT), 2.6 RPG, 1.9 APG
Jordan Railey (6'11, 245, Fr.) 0.2 0.02 11.1 MPG, 2.0 PPG (35.3% FG, 40.0% FT), 1.4 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Garrett (27%), Anderson (23%), Godfrey (22%)
  • Highest Floor%: Christopherson (43%), Godfrey (39%), Garrett (36%), Palo (36%)
  • Highest %Pass: Palo (65%), Garrett (60%), Christopherson (51%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Railey (53%), Vanderbeken (51%), Godfrey (47%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Godfrey (19%), Railey (16%), Ejim (16%)
  • Highest %TO: Vanderbeken (15%), Railey (13%), Godfrey (10%)
  • This team's offense still runs through Diante Garrett, but his shooting percentages have predictably fallen as he has become the focal point of most opponents' defensive gameplans.  Garrett is such a high-volume scorer (meaning, he shoots a lot), and I really don't think he will be the reason ISU wins or loses.  (That said, expect plenty of "It's Denmon vs Garrett!" analysis in the pre-game.
  • Honestly, if anybody has become ISU's Marcus Denmon, it's not Garrett ... it's Christopherson, ISU's low-usage, high-efficiency, catch-and-shoot scorer.  Iowa State has struggled in plenty of ways, but Christopherson's game has stabilized and/or improved since the last time these two teams played.  If he and/or Jake Anderson (who has asserted himself a bit more recently) have great games, ISU has a chance.  And whatever gains Christopherson makes on the offensive end, he needs to make sure not to give away on the defensive end.
  • Be on the lookout for Calvin Godfrey.  The freshman was suspended for three games recently, but he returned and played well against Texas A&M and has been coming on strong overall.  He has been grabbing offensive rebounds at a 19% rate since my last preview (as means of comparison, Ricardo Ratliffe's season average is 12%, Laurence Bowers 10%), he has been drawing lots of fouls, and he is exactly the type of player (Thomas Robinson, OSU's Darrell Williams) who has had recent success against the Tigers.  He could be a handful tomorrow and in future seasons.

Keys to the Game

  1. Mizzou Versus Circumstance.  Let's put it this way: Iowa State hasn't played any worse in its last three games than Oklahoma State had right before Mizzou fell in Stillwater.  (Granted, Mizzou won't take three days to get to Ames like they did to Stillwater, and Laurence Bowers is 100% ... but still.)  Good Missouri wins this game, but we've only seen Good Missouri a few times on the road (Oregon first half, A&M, Kansas first half, maybe Colorado second half).  If Mizzou begins to fall into the same road traps that have plagued them at times -- iffy defensive rebounding, too many fouls (which is, admittedly, not entirely in their control), settling for jumpers, etc. -- then Iowa State could knock them off.  And that would be a damn shame.

  2. Tempo.  Iowa State has been playing better recently, but they still do one thing that doesn't typically behoove an underdog against Mizzou: they push the tempo.  In Columbia, that resulted in chaos and disaster.  Chances are, they will try to rein themselves in a bit at Hilton, but their tendency is to run.  The more total possessions, the better Mizzou's chances.  Even if it results in some silly, sloppy play at times ... run.  A lot.  Push the pace as hard as you can, and Iowa State will probably falter.

  3. English and Dixon.  I've mentioned this many times now, but just to reiterate:

    Kim English at Home vs Big 12: 12.3 PPG (58.7% True Shooting), 38% Floor%, 22.2% Fouled, 0.44 AdjGS/Min.

    Kim English on Road vs Big 12: 7.4 PPG (39.0% True Shooting), 25% Floor%, 10.7% Fouled, 0.14 AdjGS/Min.

    At home, Kim English attacks the rim, gets to the line, grabs rebounds, and presents a solid all-around offensive game.  On the road, he vanishes.  His tendencies are the same -- 0.51 3PA/FGA at home, 0.47 on road -- but while he might not get the same calls on the road, he also doesn't seem to commit to drawing contact as much either.  He shoots 0.65 free throws for every field goal attempt at home ... and 0.23 on the road.  You can't blame that all on officiating.  Bring it, Kimmeh.

    Mike Dixon at Home: 12.3 PPG (50.0% 2PT, 45.5% 3PT), 41% Floor%, 0.51 AdjGS/Min.

    Mike Dixon on Road: 7.4 PPG (27.3% 2PT, 41.7% 3PT), 34% Floor%, 0.30 AdjGS/Min.


    Meanwhile ... I'm not completely sure what Mike Dixon's problem is.  He actually draws more fouls on the road (11.4% Fouled on the road, 8.7% at home) and turns the ball over less (6.2% to 8.2%).  His 3's fall at a reasonably similar rate ... but the 2's just don't fall.  At all.  If we had the charting data, I assume we'd see that he's taking more 15-footers and fewer 3-foot runners, but I can't prove that.  All I know is ... 27.3% on 2-pointers is horrendous, and Dixon simply must improve on that to take some of the pressure off of both Phil Pressey and Mizzou, who has had to rely on the freshman Pressey on the road.

Prediction

Yes, I'm paranoid.  Very much so.  But not paranoid enough to predict a loss.  (Best of both worlds! If they win, I picked it.  If they lose, I can say "See? I told you this might happen!")  I do see Iowa State keeping this game much closer than a) they did in Columbia and b) Mizzou fans would prefer.  They are, without a doubt, playing better.  But I still think Mizzou makes the plays to win in the end.  We'll say the pace is slower than it was last time -- somewhere around 74 possessions -- and Mizzou wins, 81-74.

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