Know Your Lame Duck Rival: Texas Tech

If the Boot To The Head defense is legal tonight, Mizzou's in good shape.

LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.

In what is suuuuuuure to be the first of ten straight Missouri wins to end the 2010-11 season, the Tigers take on Texas Tech tonight in the late game.  Tech has matched up reasonably well with Mike Anderson's teams over the years, typically keeping things rather close before falling; will the imminent departure of Pat Knight be enough to push them over the top, or will Knight's tenure limp to a quiet close?

Tech Since Last Time


Tech
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
68.6
Points Per Minute
1.82 1.78
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.06 1.04
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.26 1.26
2-PT FG% 47.0% 53.5%
3-PT FG% 38.5% 26.8%
FT% 74.0% 63.8%
True Shooting % 54.6% 53.2%




Tech Opp.
Assists/Gm 12.8 12.5
Steals/Gm 6.8 7.2
Turnovers/Gm 14.0 12.8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.40 1.53




Tech Opp.
Expected Off. Reb./Gm 12.2 12.2
Offensive Reb./Gm
11.2 11.0
Difference -1.0 -1.2

It wasn't that long ago since Tech and Mizzou played -- including the Tech-Mizzou game itself, these stats are only taking six games into account.  What we can see, however, is that Tech really hasn't been playing too poorly.  They never did generate enough rhythm to save Knight's job, but as we see here, they're shooting pretty well and boxing out effectively on the defensive glass (which has been one of their biggest issues until late in the season).  Their stats may be skewed a bit by a random blowout win over Oklahoma, but they did win at Baylor as well.

A while back, Pat Knight mentioned that he wanted to move toward Mizzou's style of play a little bit in terms of pace and athleticism.  Unfortunately, he never seemed to put together the horses.  Pace is not Mike Singletary's or D'walyn Roberts' game, it appears, and while Tech does rank 32nd in overall Adj. Tempo for the season, the style never really benefited them as much as planned.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

Tech Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

Tech Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 93 42 MU
Effective FG% 158 145 Push
Turnover % 120 7 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 188 310 Tech Big
FTA/FGA 188 203 Push
MU Offense vs Tech Defense Ranks

MU Offense Tech Defense Advantage
Efficiency 27 153 MU Big
Effective FG% 47 237 MU Big
Turnover % 24 196 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 166 282 MU Big
FTA/FGA 269 211 Tech

Typically early-round conference tournament games are decided by effort.  Tech got the best of Mizzou in that realm when the two teams met at Mizzou Arena on February 15, and their biggest advantage heading into this game comes on the offensive glass.  If Mizzou is a step slow -- like they were last year in the Big 12 Tournament's first round -- Tech is built to throw a scare into them.  If not, then Mizzou's extreme ball-handling advantages should win them the game even if their depth woes continue.

Results Since Last Time

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    at No. 67 Baylor, 78-69
    No. 146 Oklahoma, 84-58
  • Losses
    at No. 46 Texas A&M, 54-66
    No. 59 Colorado, 68-71
    at No. 83 Oklahoma State, 68-70

A reasonably impressive road win, a blowout win, and two tight losses.  Like I said, Tech really hasn't been playing too poorly.  Their main problem this season has been that they are just 3-7 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime.  With a senior-laden team, you would hope that you have the experience necessary to pull out close wins, but it hasn't worked out that way.  Of course, close games haven't been their biggest problem, I guess; if they'd gone 7-3 in those games, they'd still be sitting at just 17-14 for the season.  Their primary problem has simply been that they can't trust their defense to make stops.

Player Stats Since Last Time

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Brad Reese (6'6, 195, Sr.) 13.3 0.44 30.2 MPG, 11.0 PPG (43.6% 2PT, 28.6% 3PT, 82.4% FT), 5.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.3 TOPG
David Tairu (6'3, 177, Sr.) 12.1 0.46 26.0 MPG, 12.8 PPG (50.0% 2PT, 50.0% 3PT, 72.0% FT), 2.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.5 TOPG
D'walyn Roberts (6'7, 200, Sr.) 11.6 0.42 27.7 MPG, 8.0 PPG (61.1% FG, 40.0% FT), 6.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Mike Singletary (6'6, 235, Sr.) 9.6 0.43 22.2 MPG, 10.2 PPG (48.1% 2PT, 50.0% 3PT, 82.6% FT), 4.8 RPG, 2.2 TOPG
John Roberson (5'11, 168, Sr.) 9.3 0.25 37.5 MPG, 14.3 PPG (39.3% 2PT, 35.9% 3PT, 84.6% FT), 5.3 APG, 2.3 RPG, 4.8 TOPG
Robert Lewandoski (6'10, 256, Jr.) 8.3 0.36 23.2 MPG, 7.2 PPG (45.2% FG, 71.4% FT), 5.0 RPG
Jaye Crockett (6'7, 200, RSFr.) 2.8 0.21 13.3 MPG, 4.3 PPG (47.6% 2PT, 33.3% 3PT, 50.0% FT), 3.0 RPG, 1.2 TOPG
Javarez Willis (5'11, 171, Fr.) 2.3 0.20 11.3 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 TOPG
Paul Cooper (6'8, 235, Jr.) 0.3 0.05 7.2 MPG, 0.3 PPG, 1.3 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%: Roberson (24%), Singletary (23%), Willis (23%).
  • Highest Floor%: Roberts (50%), Tairu (41%), Lewandoski (41%).
  • Highest %Pass: Roberson (61%), Willis (60%), Reese (46%).
  • Highest %Shoot: Lewandoski (57%), Tairu (48%), Roberts (46%).
  • Highest %Fouled: Singletary (23%), Tairu (22%), Roberts (12%).
  • Highest %TO: Crockett (13%), Singletary (12%), Willis (10%).
  • Roberson and Singletary are still the offensive focal points for this team, but that's been a bit of a problem, as neither have been amazingly effective.  Tech's recent run of decent play has been spurred much more by the efficient play of Reese and Tairu on the perimeter.  Roberts has upped his offensive rebounding rate from 11% to 13% in recent weeks as well.  If these three players are on, and Roberson and Singletary remember their potential, then this is suddenly a solid -- if still undersized -- batch of players.
  • If Mizzou is actually getting a contribution from more than 2-3 players, then they should be able to wear down Tech with no problem.  After those five primary players -- Roberson, Singletary, Reese, Tairu, Roberts -- only one guy can really contribute anything: Lewandoski.  This is the type of thin team upon which we typically expect Mizzou to feast, but ... you can only wear down teams with depth if you actually have depth.  In the last three games, Mizzou has not.

Last Time

Mizzou 92, Texas Tech 84

Mizzou
Tech
Pace (No. of Possessions)
76.0
Points Per Minute
2.30 2.10
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.21 1.11
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.48 1.33
2-PT FG% 62.2% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 47.1% 46.2%
FT% 60.0% 61.%
True Shooting % 65.0% 56.4%
Mizzou Tech
Assists 18 13
Steals 9 8
Turnovers  14 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.93 1.24
Mizzou Tech
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 13
Offensive Rebounds 10 15
Difference -1 +2

Tremendous offense won the game for Mizzou, but general effort issues -- rebounding, lack of defensive focus, too many turnovers -- allowed Tech to stick around for a while.  I smell a key to the game ... don't you?

Keys to the Game

  1. 'Scuse me, 'Scuse me ... What's my Motivation?  (An ode to one of my favorite oldish commercials.)

     

    Tech might have it, and they might not.  (Yes, teams often get up for "coach's last game" situations ... but often teams do the exact opposite.)  Mizzou might have it, and they might not.  (Losing often begets further losing, though if you listened to Kim English on The Closers, you get the impression that Mizzou will be fired up.)  In conference tournaments, the "Who shows up?" factor is enormous, and I could see this one going either way.  Last year, Mizzou was about three steps slow against Nebraska, and it cost them dearly.  Will they make the same mistake twice in a row?  Follow rebounds, steals and open 3-pointers to figure out who won this game.

  2. Who Steps Up?  Recent evidence suggests that Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers will play pretty well tonight ... perhaps really well.  Mike Dixon too.  But beyond that?  Anybody have any idea who might play well?

    In the last three games, Denmon, Bowers and Dixon have combined for a rather startling 58.6 AdjGS points per game.  The other seven players in the rotation: an even more startling 6.1.  Six point one!  For SEVEN players!  I compared Bowers' Kansas performance to that of Doug Smith and Denmon's to Kareem Rush.  And yet Mizzou still lost.  With two guys playing like complete stars, Mizzou doesn't need huge performances from the rest of the team.  They just need something better than terrible performances.  Will they get it, or does Mizzou's season only have 2-3 more games left in it?

  3. 'Cardo's Second Wind.  Nobody's regression has been more stark and sudden than Ricardo Ratliffe's.  'Cardo looked phenomenal against Baylor, registering 11 points (5-of-7 shooting) and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes.  Since then: 12 points (6-for-17 shooting) and eight rebounds in 66 minutes.  Yuck.  Somewhere on the way to Manhattan, he hit The Wall.  For Mizzou to actually put together a nice postseason, he's going to have to break through and actually begin looking like the Ratliffe of the season's first 28 games again.  Perhaps more than any of the seven terrible players from the last three games, Mizzou needs Ratliffe to play well to reach their ceiling.  Will he bounce back, or is he basically done for the season?

Prediction

The way I see it, there are three equally likely scenarios with this one:

Scenario 1: Mizzou plays with an edge and Tech doesn't.  The Tigers build an early lead, and it mushrooms late in the first half.  The Tigers pull away, 90-66.

Scenario 2: Both teams are dialed in.  The game is fun and up-tempo, and eventually Mizzou builds some space because they're simply the better team.  Mizzou wins, 84-77.

Scenario 3: Tech is fired up and blitzes Mizzou out of the gates like Nebraska did.  The Tigers build a comeback because that's what they typically do, but Tech's seniors put together one last nice performance for their outgoing coach, and Tech pulls the upset, 84-77.

Average those three together, and you've basically got an 84-76 Mizzou win.  (Ken Pomeroy says MU 86-74.)  So we'll go with that.  All three scenarios are on the table, however.

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