Classic Study Hall: Mizzou 80, Iowa State 71 (1995)

The temptation was strong to do the 4OT MU-ISU game from 2001, but as I mentioned last time, I don't ONLY want to do games from the early part of last decade.  It's enjoyable, but Mizzou's history, to say the least, expands beyond that era.  MUtigers.com's online archive stretches back into the late-90s, but the Trib archive comes through occasionally as well -- I was able to dig up the box score for this hidden classic.

We speak of the 1994-95 Missouri basketball season in hushed tones, like we accidentally just brought up an ex-spouse to somebody.  "Remember that trip to Italy?  Wasn't that fun?  Oh.  Right."  That season was one of the damnedest and most fascinating in Missouri history.  It was both pleasantly surprising and crushingly disappointing.  It started with low expectations because Mizzou had to replace six seniors from 1994's Elite Eight squad (Melvin Booker, Jevon Crudup, Lamont Frazier, Mark Atkins, Chris Heller, and Reggie Smith).  Then the expectations got lower when Kelly Thames tore up his knee.  Mizzou was picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 8 ... but then they started winning.  A lot.  Led by funky killing machine Paul O'Liney (19.7 PPG), Julian Winfield, and a host of youngsters and newcomers -- sophomores Derek Grimm, Jason Sutherland and Cory Tate, freshmen Kendrick Moore and (briefly) Troy Hudson, and JUCO newcomers Sammie and Simeon Haley -- Mizzou started better than could have been reasonably expected.  They beat Purdue in the Great Eight and rolled through Illinois, Washington and Notre Dame on the way to an 11-1 non-conference record (the only blemish: a 23-point whipping at the hands of defending champion Arkansas).

On January 30, Mizzou headed to Ames for a Big Monday bloodbath.  Ten-point underdogs, the Tigers were ranked 18th at 14-3 overall, 3-2 in a tough Big 8.  Their conference losses had come to stellar Kansas (Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag) and Oklahoma State (Big Country Reeves, Randy Rutherford, Sutton Brother No. 2) teams.  Iowa State, meanwhile, was 14-2 and ranked 12th, having recently upset Kansas.  Led by Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer, and the ugliest person to ever grace this fine earth, Julius Michalik, the Cyclones were stout under first-year coach Tim Floyd.

With Iowa State keying on O'Liney, Mizzou would ride to victory thanks to contributions from a couple of unexpected sources.

Mizzou 80, Iowa State 71

Mizzou
ISU
Pace (No. of Possessions)
61.4
Points Per Minute
2.00 1.78
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.30 1.16
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.70 1.39
2-PT FG% 61.8% 44.1%
3-PT FG% 53.8% 47.1%
FT% 85.0% 60.7%
True Shooting % 71.7% 56.1%
Mizzou ISU
Assists 17 16
Steals 2 7
Turnovers 11 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.73 2.30
Mizzou ISU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 7 12
Offensive Rebounds 5 12
Difference -2 +0

Near-Flawless Offense

For the season, the 1994-95 Tigers had almost as good an offense as their predecessors -- they averaged 1.05 points per possession to 1994's 1.06.  Their defense may have suffered slightly (they allowed 1.00 PPP compared to 1994's 0.97), but the offense was basically fine.  This game may have been their finest moment.  Using O'Liney as mostly a decoy (he took just eight shots from the field, two from 3-point land, in 35 double-teamed minutes), four players racked up at least three assists, and the Tigers shot incredibly well from the field.  From the Trib Archive:

As one-sided as the statistics were, Missouri was in a perilous position in the second half. When Hoiberg knocked down a three-point shot with 12:25 left, the Cyclones led 55-50.

Missouri called a 20-second timeout to settle down and quiet the crowd. The Tigers proceeded to connect on their next seven shots -- three of them three-pointers -- and score on 10 straight possessions. The streak finally ended when Simeon Haley missed a free throw with 3:53 left in the game, but by then MU led 72-63.

"We played a team that did a great job executing their offense," ISU coach Tim Floyd said. "Their plan was to take it at us. Our defense had some slippage. We never really stopped them."

With their best scorer locked down and a crazy Hilton crowd excited as hell, the Tigers calmly and surgically took the Cyclones apart.

Oddities

* Three minutes into the game, one of the shot clocks stopped working.

* With three minutes remaining, Julius Michalik was given credit for three points after making two free throws.

* With 17 seconds remaining, Fred Hoiberg was given credit for four points on a three-pointer.  (Of course, four points was nothing in the mid-1990s...)

Both scoring errors were corrected, of course.  Norm's reaction to the points issues?  Predictably Norm-esque.  From the same Trib article:

"I lived up here for six years, and I know they're good people and they're honest people," MU coach Norm Stewart said. "And I know the basic skills are higher on the tests than they are in Missouri. But boys, they were having a little trouble with their math tonight."

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jason Sutherland (So.) 20.5 0.57 36 Min, 20 Pts (7-12 FG, 4-8 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Ast, 2 Reb
Kendrick Moore (Fr.) 17.5 0.70 25 Min, 14 Pts (5-7 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-3 FT), 5 Reb, 3 Ast
Paul O'Liney (Sr.) 15.2 0.44 35 Min, 14 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 5-5 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast
Sammie Haley (Jr.) 14.0 0.50 28 Min, 16 Pts (7-10 FG, 2-3 FT), 4 Reb, 4 Blk, 3 TO, 5 PF
Julian Winfield (Jr.) 13.4 0.40 33 Min, 8 Pts (3-3 FG, 2-2 FT), 6 Ast, 5 Reb (2 Off), 3 TO
Derek Grimm (So.) 5.5 0.23 24 Min, 7 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 PF
Scott Combs (Fr.) -0.9 -0.18 5 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG)
Simeon Haley (Jr.) -2.1 -0.24 9 Min, 1 Pt (1-3 FT), 2 TO, 4 PF
Corey Tate (So.) -2.3 -0.45 5 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 2 Reb, 2 TO
  • For the season, Sutherland, Moore and Sa. Haley averaged a combined 23.1 PPG; they scored 50 in Ames.  Moore's production was a career high, and he made his first career 3-pointer (he took only 14 3's all year, making five) during the "Mizzou can't miss" run in the second half.  This team actually had two guards who never shot 3's -- Julian Winfield attempted only 14.  Of course, they got 80 attempts from their power forward (Grimm), so I guess that balances out.  Really unique team, really unique year.
  • Speaking of Winfield ... I just cannot stop thinking about how good a fit he might have been on this 2010-11 team.  Excellent man defender who didn't go for many steals and got most of his points from mid-range jumpers and attacking the rim?  Yes, please.
  • Four players with three or more assists, five players with at least five field goal attempts.  Pretty much the perfect team offense.  It wasn't always this way with this team, of course -- for the season, O'Liney took almost literally twice as many shots as anybody else (he attempted 388 field goals, while the next two most frequent shooters, Winfield and Sutherland, combined for 398) -- but this game required varied contributions, and role players like Moore and Sa. Haley stepped up.
  • Another fun tidbit from The Trib:
    He knew it was going to be his night as soon as he stepped off the bus into the frigid Iowa air and smelled, well, horse dung. Normally, this would not be interpreted as an especially good sign. But for Haley, it was an odorous reminder of his playing days at Connors State Junior College in Oklahoma.

    "It smelled like horse manure," Haley said. "I said, 'Dang coach, it smells like Connors State here tonight.' He said, 'It's the first time I've smelled this Sammie.'

    "I guess I was a little bit homesick. Everything helps, baby. You've got to use anything to motivate yourself now."

    Maybe the smell reminded him that he averaged 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds as a sophomore last year.

    "Back at Connors State, before you go in the gym, you smell horse manure because the stable is right by the gym," Haley said. "The Connors State smell, I guess that was my motivation."

    Horse manure was one way to describe Haley's recent play. He scored eight points in Missouri's victory against Colorado on Thursday but sat most of the second half. He had not scored in double figures since the Coppin State game on Dec. 8.
  • Good thing Mizzou's Top Six came through, as their No. 7-9 players combined for minus-5.3 AdjGS points.  This program's lack of depth, of course, would quickly rear its ugly head in future seasons.
  • How did Mizzou defend Meyer and Michalik?  Physically, to say the least.  Mizzou committed 22 fouls in this game, with their three main bigs (Haley, Grimm, Haley) combining for 13.  Simeon pulled a Justin Gage, almost fouling out in nine minutes of action.  It worked, of course -- both Meyer and Michalik were completely ineffective in the second half.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Jason Sutherland 21% 57% 2.8 56% 38% 6% 0%
Kendrick Moore 20% 67% 3.6 64% 26% 10% 0%
Paul O'Liney 17% 53% 2.8 58% 26% 16% 0%
Sammie Haley 31% 49% 2.5 27% 46% 13% 14%
Julian Winfield 12% 60% 4.2 82% 7% 4% 7%
Derek Grimm 15% 40% 0.9 0% 73% 27% 0%
Scott Combs 12% 0% 0.7 0% 100% 0% 0%
Simeon Haley 22% 14% 1.7 0% 0% 59% 41%
Corey Tate 36% 11% 5.8 66% 11% 0% 23%
  • Of the five players with the most minutes in this game, four of them had a %Pass over 55%.  Again, I don't want to glorify this team's passing ability overall, but you have to love how O'Liney realized his limitations when being double-teamed and got the ball to others to thrive.

Aftermath

Of course, we know where this season ended up.  It's almost like we don't discuss the 1995 team just because of how the season ended.  Mizzou would move all the way to 18-3, knocking off Iowa State again at home just nine days later, then taking out Oklahoma State, 81-79.  They were tied for the conference lead and ranked ninth in the country ... and then they lost four games in a row, including tight losses to Oklahoma (road), Nebraska (home) and Colorado (road).  They got walloped by Iowa State in the Big 8 tournament and limped into the NCAAs as an eight-seed.  The rest, of course, is history.  Tyus Edney happened, and it would take Mizzou four years to return to the NCAA Tournament.  This was Norm Stewart's last flirtation with greatness, and depending on your viewpoint, it either ended a month too soon ... or 4.8 seconds too soon.

As for Iowa State, they finished 23-11 and also advanced to the second round of the NCAAs.  They would win four NCAA tourney games from 1995-97 before falling back in 1998 and losing Tim Floyd to the Chicago Bulls.  That paved the way for the Larry Eustachy era.

 

 

---

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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