Know Your Teacher-Pupil Rival: Texas Longhorns

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So now we get the rare "pupil meets teacher" battle. Frank Haith coached under Rick Barnes from 2001 to 04 (hence why he compares Phil Pressey to T.J. Ford at every possible opportunity), and while Barnes may be the more experienced coach, Haith certainly has the more experienced team. Texas is young, young, young, hopefully too young to steal a game from Mizzou in Columbia.

Texas Longhorns (12-4)


UT
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
66.5
Points Per Minute
1.88
1.56
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14
0.95
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.34
1.14
2-PT FG% 51.2%
40.0%
3-PT FG% 32.6%
33.4%
FT% 71.5%
64.3%
True Shooting % 55.6%
48.0%




UT Opp.
Assists/Gm 13.1
9.8
Steals/Gm 7.4
6.0
Turnovers/Gm 13.0
14.9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.58
1.05




UT Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 12.2
13.6
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.6
13.7
Difference +1.4
+0.1

Young or not, this certainly isn't a bad team. The 'Horns rank 25th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings at the moment, and they are tied with Mizzou at 2-1 in conference. They lost to Iowa State by six points at Hilton, and their stats here are an interesting mix of good and bad. They force a reasonably healthy number of turnovers, and they play good defense inside the three-point line, but they foul a ton, and they allow quite a few nice looks from long range. On offense, draw a ton of fouls, but if they aren't getting to the line, their jumper cannot bail them out. They are excellent on the offensive glass and quite poor on the defensive glass. They are, in essence, an extremely talented, ridiculously young team with highs and lows all over the place.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

UT Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UT Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 44
50
Push
Effective FG% 120
100
Push
Turnover % 82
60
MU
Off. Reb. % 20
87
UT
FTA/FGA 22
15
Push
MU Offense vs UT Defense Ranks

MU Offense UT Defense Advantage
Efficiency 2
19
Push
Effective FG% 2
34
MU
Turnover % 3
120
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 165
264
MU
FTA/FGA 122
269
MU Big

Where the 'Horns are weakest

I covered some of it above, but they rank 233rd in Off. 3PT% and 147th in Def. 3PT%. They are 325th in Experience, 264th in Def. Reb% and 269th in fouling. Their strengths are strong, and their weaknesses are really weak.

Where they are best

It is an odd contradiction, but when they are not giving up open 3's, they are probably giving up a well-contested 2. They are ninth in Def. 2PT%, and their ranking of 25th in Def. FT% suggests that most of their fouling takes place inside (where Mizzou doesn't have many foul-drawers). And again, they do pull down second-chance opportunities and go to the line quite a bit. The messier this game is, the better chance Texas has.

UT's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 43 Temple, 77-65
    at No. 67 UCLA, 69-59
    No. 79 UT-Arlington, 80-62
    No. 131 Texas A&M, 61-51
    No. 136 Rice, 73-59
  • Losses
    at No. 7 North Carolina, 63-82
    at No. 51 Iowa State, 71-77
    vs No. 64 Oregon State, 95-100 (OT)
    vs No. 70 N.C. State, 74-77

Texas has had an interesting, all-or-nothing schedule: they have played seven teams in Ken Pomeroy's Top 80 and six teams ranked 204th or worse. They have played only one 'premier' team (UNC) and got their doors blown off, but they have proven perfectly competent in taking down decent teams.

UT Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
J'Covan Brown (6'1, 197, Jr.)
16.7
0.51
33.0 MPG, 18.1 PPG (50% 2PT, 36% 3PT, 82% FT), 4.0 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
Sheldon McClellan (6'4, 200, Fr.)
11.5
0.44
26.0 MPG, 11.8 PPG (55% 2PT, 31% 3PT, 75% FT), 3.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Myck Kabongo (6'1, 169, Fr.)
10.2
0.37
27.8 MPG, 9.6 PPG (48% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 64% FT), 5.3 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.0 TOPG
Jonathan Holmes (6'7, 239, Fr.)
9.7
0.44
21.8 MPG, 8.8 PPG (63% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 79% FT), 5.4 RPG, 1.4 TOPG
Clint Chapman (6'10, 245, Sr.)
7.2
0.35
20.4 MPG, 6.1 PPG (52% 2PT, 74% FT), 5.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 1.1 TOPG
Alexis Wangmene (6'7, 241, Sr.)
6.0
0.27
22.1 MPG, 5.2 PPG (54% 2PT, 66% FT), 4.4 RPG, 1.1 TOPG
Julien Lewis (6'3, 190, Fr.)
5.6
0.23
24.3 MPG, 8.8 PPG (36% 2PT, 36% 3PT, 67% FT), 3.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
Jaylen Bond (6'7, 224, Fr.)
5.5
0.34
16.1 MPG, 4.3 PPG (58% 2PT, 50% FT), 4.7 RPG
Sterling Gibbs (6'1, 185, Fr.)
2.1
0.20
10.4 MPG, 3.6 PPG (57% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 69% FT), 1.3 TOPG

* 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%: Brown (28%), Lewis (22%), McClellan (21%), Kabongo (21%).
  • Highest Floor%: Bond (43%), Brown (42%), Holmes (42%), McClellan (41%).
  • Highest %Pass: Kabongo (68%), Gibbs (55%), Brown (54%), Bond (34%).
  • Highest %Shoot: Lewis (62%), McClellan (54%), Chapman (47%), Bond (44%).
  • Highest %Fouled: McClellan (25%), Holmes (25%), Wangmene (21%), Chapman (20%).
  • Highest %T/O: Gibbs (13%), Wangmene (12%), Chapman (11%), Holmes (10%).
  • J'Covan Brown's Usage% is off the charts. For seemingly every possession he is in the game, he is going to either be taking the initial shot or making the pass that sets up the initial shot. He is in some ways a Kemba Walker type of guard, which makes Texas an interesting team on the road; despite their extreme youth (and I warned you, they are young ... but only if you consider "six players in a nine-man rotation are freshmen" young), Brown has the raw scoring ability to carry them to an upset.
  • Of course, Brown is also currently limping around. Expect him to do a little more passing and a little less shooting in this one (especially near the rim), which may be a good thing for Mizzou.
  • With a squad this inexperienced, you might have assumed it would take Rick Barnes a while to figure out a rotation. That is most certainly true: eight players in the nine-man rotation have started at least four games this year. Brown and Kabongo have started all 16 games, while Lewis, Holmes and Wangmene have each started 12. Brown's injury puts more of a load on the freshmen, which is probably a good thing for opponents now, but might be a bad thing later in the season.
  • The upside here is high, even if it is inexperienced and unstable. Kabongo was a five-star signee, while Holmes, Lewis and McClellan were all four-star guys.
  • Though not particularly tall, the 'Horns do have some size to them. Three of the nine regulars are 240 pounds, and one more is 225. They are strong and athletic ... they just haven't completely figured out what they are doing yet (hence the good rebounding numbers on one end and the poor numbers on the other).
  • Of the freshmen, Holmes perhaps provides the most interesting challenge for Mizzou. He is an inside-outside threat (though he's not particularly amazing shooting from the outside), and he ranks 80th in the country with a 13.6% offensive rebound rate.

Keys to the Game

  1. Don't Let Brown Go Off. He may be physically limited right now, but he is a high-volume scorer, and it would probably behoove Mizzou to make sure he doesn't score in high volume. Whether that means using a bigger defender like Matt Pressey on him, I'm not sure. But then again, I'm not the coach.

  2. Whistles. You missed Big 12 basketball, didn't you? With the whistles, whistles and more whistles (at least, at particular times in each half, since the definition of a foul changes depending on how much time is left in the game, and yes, I'm still bitter; I'm always bitter) and whatnot? Well guess what: Texas games are as whistle-heavy as anybody's in the conference. They are going to commit a lot of fouls and draw a lot of fouls, and by now you know the danger associated with that. If Ricardo Ratliffe and/or Steve Moore get into foul trouble, then Texas begins to develop quite a size advantage.

  3. You're A Senior; He's a Freshman. Or To Put It Another Way, BCI! BCI! BCI! Mizzou's experience advantage here is immense; they need to use it. Mizzou plays a home-friendly style of ball, and they can fluster the hell out of younger players, especially young guards like Kabongo and Lewis. If they are able to limit their turnovers and stay composed, Mizzou did not do its job. Texas isn't awful in the ball control department, but they aren't amazing either, and if Mizzou easily wins in the BCI department, they will probably win in the Scoreboard department as well.

Prediction

Ken Pomeroy's projections say Mizzou 76, Texas 67. But let's be honest: Mizzou rarely wins home games by nine points. If Mizzou is able to derive enough of an advantage to win by nine, they will probably win by 15. I'm feeling good about getting a young Texas team flustered, so I'll follow those lines and say Mizzou 81, Texas 66. Mizzou's advantages are not worth 15 points in and of themselves, but if Mizzou leads, they probably pull away late. The game in Austin could be a completely different story.

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