Your Trifecta: Bowers-English-Ratliffe. Your winner: nobody! There weren't nearly as many Bowers picks as I expected ... dude has been incredible lately.
After averaging just 9.5 turnovers per game in their previous four games, Mizzou has averaged 15.0 in the last three. Could that be a worrisome trend? Perhaps. But there was a method to yesterday's madness. Even if it resulted in some sloppy play in the short-term, the pace Mizzou set in the game's opening minutes yesterday just overwhelmed Baylor. Among other bits of evidence, J'Mison Morgan was walking up the court with 16 minutes left in the first half. When all was said and done, Baylor was only able to put together one decent run, and their starters finished with three assists (all from A.J. Walton) and 17 turnovers. Damn. It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing game Missouri has ever played at Mizzou Arena, but ... the Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball were just too damn fast for Baylor. And Missouri is now 22-6.
Mizzou 77, Baylor 59
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||56.1%||47.5%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||12||13|
Size Goes Both Ways
It doesn't take you long to realize just how long a team Baylor is. You should never get an open look against that zone defense (but you do), and you should really struggle to pull down defensive boards too. They're among the tallest teams in the country. Against Missouri, however, that had a downside: on multiple occasions, one of Mizzou's smaller defenders (Phil Pressey, Mike Dixon) sneaked underneath a tall ball-handler and stole the ball off the dribble. When you're that tall, there's a long way for the ball to go from your hand to the floor, and Mizzou took more advantage of their size disadvantage than Baylor took of their advantage.
Oh yeah, and Mizzou outrebounded the Bears as well.
Mizzou certainly struggled on the glass against tall teams like Kansas and Illinois, but against some of the best rebounding teams in the country -- Old Dominion, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor -- Mizzou has more than held their own. And yesterday, they did so without needing their guards to hang back and sacrifice tempo for boards. Mizzou's starting bigs -- Ricardo Ratliffe and Laurence Bowers -- were monstrous, combining for 22 rebounds in 54 minutes, eight of the offensive variety. Baylor's two scariest bigs, Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy? Nineteen rebounds (eight offensive) in 61 minutes. If I'd told you that Ratliffe and Bowers would beat Jones and Acy on the glass (three more rebounds in seven fewer minutes), how big a Mizzou victory would you have predicted? 20 points? 75?
"If You Go To the Rim in This Game, You Better Get Your Manhood On"
There were ten blocks in this game, seemingly half of which were on dunk attempts. Quincy Acy and J'mison Morgan each had two blocks for Baylor, while Ratliffe and Bowers each had two for Mizzou. This was a fun, athletic game, wasn't it? (And this says nothing of Phil Pressey's stupid-but-really-damn-impressive fast break dunk attempt over LaceDarius Dunn early in the second half. It was silly of him to try it, but like Miguel Paul's even more ill-advised attempt against Texas last year, it seemed to spark Mizzou. And it resulted in a rather hilarious "thatwasstupidbutohmyGOD" hum from the crowd so audible you could hear it on television.)
(The header quote above came from Mark Jones late in the game. I almost hate saying this, but ... it's struck me in the last few weeks that Jones really is somewhat enjoyable doing basketball games. It is amazing how much better he is doing basketball than football. He's still silly-bordering-on-ridiculous at times, but he makes fewer mistakes and fewer ridiculous comments. Pair him up with Hubert Davis, who just really likes watching basketball games -- there are times when you wonder if he's forgotten he has a microphone on, like when he just randomly shouts "Fast break!' or "Get the ball!" -- and that isn't nearly as unenjoyable a tandem as I feared. And Hubert loves him some Fastest 40 Minutes, so that helps too. Now if we could just get the whole mispronunciations thing taken care of...)
Starting the Party
AdjGS/Game, Last Five Games
Laurence Bowers 17.8 (0.75/minute)
Marcus Denmon 13.9 (0.49/minute)
Ricardo Ratliffe 10.8 (0.50/minute)
Mike Dixon 8.1 (0.43/minute)
Kim English 8.1 (0.35/minute)
Justin Safford 7.2 (0.39/minute)
Phil Pressey 7.0 (0.28/minute)
In the last five games, Laurence Bowers is averaging 14.6 PPG on 63.3% shooting (91.7% from the line!), throwing in 6.8 rebounds (3.2 offensive), 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks. Wow. And this five-game sample includes games against long teams like Kansas and Baylor. Marcus Denmon is still Mizzou's leading scorer in this span -- 15.6 PPG -- but Bowers has taken over this team. If he can be counted on from the inside and outside, AND Denmon is scoring from all over (75.9% on 2-pointers, 36.4% on 3's), AND Kim English can knock down some open, confident jumpers like he did last night? Holy moly. Last night, Bowers out-Perry Jones'd Perry Jones (who had 10 & 10 on 5-for-13 shooting), which is, um, not bad.
It Could Have Been Much, Much Worse For Baylor
Phil Pressey, Mike Dixon and Matt Pressey combined for eight points on 2-for-15 shooting and six turnovers. And Missouri won by 18. Mizzou's identity destroyed Baylor's, but when all was said and done, outside of Bowers and Ratliffe, Mizzou really didn't even play very well. Scary.
Mizzou Player Stats
(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)
|Laurence Bowers||25.6||1.02||25 Min, 20 Pts (8-13 FG, 4-4 FT), 9 Reb (4 Off), 6 Stl, 2 Blk, 2 TO|
|Kim English||15.3||0.59||26 Min, 16 Pts (6-9 FG, 4-6 3PT), 2 Ast|
|Ricardo Ratliffe||11.6||0.40||29 Min, 11 Pts (5-7 FG, 1-1 3PT, 0-2 FT), 13 Reb (4 Off), 2 Blk, 3 TO|
|Mike Dixon||10.0||0.50||20 Min, 8 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-4 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 TO|
|Marcus Denmon||8.4||0.26||32 Min, 13 Pts (5-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-3 FT), 3 Ast, 2 TO|
|Justin Safford||7.7||0.40||19 Min, 9 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb|
|Ricky Kreklow||1.1||0.14||8 Min, 0 Pts|
|Steve Moore||0.6||0.08||7 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG)|
|Jarrett Sutton||0.0||0.00||1 Min|
|Matt Pressey||-2.0||-0.14||14 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3PT)|
|Phil Pressey||-2.8||-0.15||19 Min, 0 Pts (0-7 FG, 0-5 3PT), 6 Ast, 2 Reb, 3 TO|
- Bowers generated over a point per minute for Mizzou while on the court. The other times that has happened this year: Bowers versus Texas (in just four minutes), Denmon versus Northern Illinois (24 minutes), John Underwood versus North Florida (four minutes), and that's it. Considering the magnitude of this game, there's a pretty good case that Bowers' performance last night was Missouri's best individual performance of the season. (Marcus Denmon versus Georgetown and Vanderbilt might have been more important, but perhaps not any better.)
- One more Bowers note: via Tom Orf, L-Bo became the seventh tiger to register 20 points and seven steals in the same game. The others:
Anthony Peeler (Nebraska 1992, 34 points, seven steals, eight rebounds, four assists)
Steve Wallace (Iowa State 1979, 28 points, six steals, eight rebounds)
Anthony Peeler (Nebraska-Kearney 1992, 25 points, six steals, five assists, four rebounds)
Doug Smith (Iowa State 1991, 22 points, six steals, five rebounds)
Stefhon Hannah (Arkansas 2007, 21 points, six steals, six assists, three rebounds)
Stefhon Hannah (Davidson 2007, 20 points, six steals, four rebounds, three assists)
Anthony Peeler, Doug Smith, Stefhon Hannah. Interesting list. And now Bowers' name is on it too.
- Kim English looked like Marcus Denmon, letting the game come to him and knocking down a couple of dagger 3's. Well done, Kimmeh.
- Ricardo Ratliffe barely missed a first-half double-double ... and he missed it because of points. He was stuck on eight points for quite a while (until he knocked down a "nonononono...YES!" 3-pointer with 8:31 left in the game), but he was an absolute beast on the glass in the first half. 'Cardo has shown that while he may get bored playing against lesser opponents, but he brings it against the big boys.
Ratliffe against "cupcakes": 9.7 AdjGS/game (9.8 PPG on 57.4% shooting, 6.9 RPG)
Ratliffe against "real" opponents: 13.8 AdjGS/game (12.2 PPG on 60.2% shooting, 6.5 RPG)
- I grouped Mike Dixon's performance with that of the Brothers Pressey above, but individually he had a pretty good game. Eight points on six shots is certainly decent for a guard, plus he posted a 3.00 BCI, grabbed two offensive rebounds, and further confirmed that he's the Tiger I want shooting important free throws. He's up to 82.4% from the line on the year, at least seven percent better than any other Mizzou guard.
- Marcus Denmon certainly wasn't bad last night ... but really, he and Kimmeh reversed roles for a night. Denmon's jumper was a bit off, but he still contributed. Plus ... well, it's nice knowing you can win by 18 when Marcus Denmon isn't doing much.
- Workmanlike effort from Justin Safford, who averaged almost two points per shot, grabbed a few boards, and at different times, ended up guarding LaceDarius Dunn surprisingly effectively. Aside from a short hot streak in the second half, Dunn was handcuffed all night by Mizzou's team defense. Needless to say, it was extremely encouraging to watch.
- Ricky Kreklow barely landed in the box score, but he tipped multiple passes in his seven minutes, so I'm pretty sure he graded out pretty well with the coaching staff.
- We need a hypnotist to come in and help Matt Pressey find his game again. "You are not what Doug Gottlieb says you are ... you are not what Doug Gottlieb says you are ... you are not what Doug Gottlieb says you are ... you are not what Doug Gottlieb says you are ..."
- Regression to the mean wrecked Flip Pressey last night. He could not buy a bucket, and he was taking shots he had been mostly making in conference play.
Three Keys Revisited
From Tuesday's preview.
For those who follow Rock M, you know how I love a good boxing analogy. For Missouri games, Rounds 3 and 8 (the 12:00 to 8:00 minute marks of each half) are typically most important, as that is when the bench players are spelling the starters. Mizzou tends to win these rounds at home and lose them on the road. ... Against a tall but thin Baylor squad, the Mizzou bench could soften up the Bears significantly with good performances in the middle of each half. Without strong bench play, Mizzou can still win ... but they will have blown a huge opportunity.
With Steve Moore, Justin Safford, Matt Pressey, Ricky Kreklow and Mike Dixon in the game for most of "Round Three" (from 10:54 remaining in the first half to 7:17), Mizzou outscored a Baylor lineup of mostly Perry Jones III (starter), LaceDarius Dunn (starter), Anthony Jones (starter), Quincy Acy (usually a starter) and A.J. Walton (starter), by a 7-4 margin. When Mizzou's bench can do that against the other teams' starters, things typically go very well for the Tigers. With the starters back in, they outscored Baylor, 9-4, in Round 4, extending their lead to 12 points.
Ball Control and Boards
BCI: Mizzou 1.93, Baylor 0.52
Expected Rebounding Margin: Mizzou +1
It's amazing that this game stayed within 18 points, honestly. Blame turnovers and only decent shooting, I guess.
Baylor, 3-pointers: 4-for-10 (40.0%)
Missouri, 3-pointers: 8-for-23 (34.8%)
This one did not end up becoming the factor I expected, though Baylor's 1-for-4 performance in the first half (0-for-3 in the games' first 19:59) helped Mizzou build the lead they built.
That was fun. It was a bit sloppy, and we're basically one more game away from determining that turnovers are officially a red flag for this team ... but it was fun. Mizzou overpowered Baylor with their identity, and Laurence Bowers very much out-dueled Perry Jones III. Mizzou has all but officially locked up their tourney bid, and now they head into their final three games with nothing but seeding on their mind. Kansas State is super-hot, so Saturday's game should be a good one. If Missouri wins that one, they'll have a two-game lead over the Wildcats and everybody else vying for the conference tourney's fourth seed, and with two games remaining, Mizzou's odds of a bye will be very high.
I don't really believe in the whole "the team is coming together" notion -- you are who you are at this point, and talking about momentum or big wins or big losses is somewhat, as Jim Boeheim would say, bulls***. (Especially since before last night, people were trying to assert that this team was falling apart. Nothing changes that much in 40 minutes.) This is a dangerous tourney team whether they win the next three games or lose them; the rest of the regular season is all about seeding and positioning, and I'm really looking forward to it.
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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