Study Hall: Mizzou 89, Baylor 88

Your Trifecta: PPressey-Ratliffe-MPressey. Your winner: nobody!

First, some links:

  • MUtigers.com: No. 5 Tigers Escape No. 3 Baylor with 89-88 Victory
  • The Trib: Tigers topple Bears in top-five showdown
    The Trib: MU's Ratliffe manhandles bigger Baylor frontcourt
  • The Missourian: Missouri chalks up road win against Baylor
    The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri takes down Baylor
  • KC Star: No. 5 MU makes statement with win at No. 3 Baylor
    KC Star: MU's Ratliffe has career game against big Baylor front line
    KC Star: Tigers force Bears to drop zone defense
  • Post-Dispatch: Mizzou comes up huge at Baylor
    Post-Dispatch: Mizzou applies brakes to a long skid on the road
  • PowerMizzou: Post-Game Hoops Thoughts
  • SB Nation: Tigers Hold On For 89-88 Win
  • Our Daily Bears: Baylors' Big XII Championship Hopes Dashed in Home Loss to Mizzou
  • Fox Sports MW: It's all about toughness for Mizzou Tigers
  • Hank's Sports Blog: Ratliffe scores career-high 27 points as No. 5 Missouri holds off No. 3 Baylor
  • Searching For Billy Edelin: Five Takeaways: Missouri-Baylor
  • CBS Sports: Missouri proves itself as legit in Waco
  • ESPN.com: Rapid Reaction: Missouri 89, Baylor 88
    ESPN.com: Missouri once again answers skeptics
    ESPN.com: VIDEO: Fran Fraschilla on Mizzou's win at Baylor

With 9:42 left in yesterday's game, it looked like Mizzou had potentially blown an opportunity. Baylor had endured a stretch that saw them score on just four of 12 possessions, and following a technical foul on Baylor coach Scott Drew, the Bears had minimized damage by forcing a turnover and getting a layup from Quincy Acy. Mizzou called a 30-second timeout, up just 60-58. And then they went out and won the game.

9:35 - dunk by Ricardo Ratliffe (assist: Phil Pressey) (62-58)
9:16 - steal by Phil Pressey
8:58 - two free throws by Ricardo Ratliffe (64-58)
8:45 - steal by Phil Pressey
8:42 - layup by Phil Pressey (66-58)
8:27 - timeout by Baylor
8:17 - steal by Phil Pressey
7:59 - layup by Ricardo Ratliffe (assist: Phil Pressey) (68-58)

Mizzou would go up by as many as 12 points following two more layups (one by Ratliffe, one by Marcus Denmon) and a 3-pointer by Kim English with 5:07 left, but the surge that truly won Mizzou the game lasted under two minutes.

It is the Mizzou Way in 2011-12. Persevere, absorb as many blows as you can from your opponent, make a few defensive plays, nail a few open shots … and when your opponent lowers his right glove a bit, floor him with a left hook. (And while I tend to almost overdo the boxing analogies from time to time, I'm pretty sure "dunk-steal-FTs-steal-layup-steal-layup" is the perfect personification of a knockdown.) Mizzou scored on 10 consecutive possessions and built a cushion against a Top Five team with the game on the line. And as a bonus (as if a bonus were needed), they didn't do it by getting hot on tough 3-pointers. They manufactured points with defense and the burgeoning Flip-to-Ratliffe relationship that has taken an incredible step forward in the last month.

I said it yesterday afternoon, and I'll say it again: I am done trying to figure out what this team is capable of. We know, from the ranking they will receive in the next AP poll, that the sky is officially the limit. It's time to just sit back and watch what happens next.

Mizzou 89, Baylor 88

Mizzou
BU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 74.0
Points Per Minute 2.23 2.20
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.20 1.19
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.62 1.40
2-PT FG% 67.6% 61.7%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 43.8%
FT% 71.0% 81.8%
True Shooting % 64.8% 64.9%
Mizzou BU
Assists 17 23
Steals 11 7
Turnovers 18 19
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.56 1.58
Mizzou BU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10 10
Offensive Rebounds 14 11
Difference +4 +1

Not Even Their Best Game

Mizzou's deficiencies in this game tell almost as big a story as their successes. The Tigers made just seven of 21 3-pointers, lost the BCI battle, and, in the game's first 38:56, made just 63 percent of their free throws. They got an iffy (at best) game from Marcus Denmon (3-for-9 shooting, five turnovers), and microwavable Mike Dixon stayed cool from the field (1-for-5). And Mizzou won anyway.

Mizzou held a strong offense, with a much-anticipated length advantage, to just 1.05 points per possession until the frantic final minute or so. (The Bears scored 22 points on their final 11 possessions.) They held great outfit of 3-point shooters to just 2-for-their-first-10. THEY OUTREBOUNDED THE BEARS. They got a career game from Ricardo Ratliffe. They got 18 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds from their sophomore point guard. They got 18 big minutes from Steve Moore. They got a nearly perfect Matt Pressey (barring the once-per-game silly shooting foul). And they proved that they are strong enough to reel in their first road win over a Top Five team in 18 years without playing their best.

Good On Baylor

We can talk about how Mizzou's "left hook" above proved that a lot of Baylor's flaws during Scott Drew's tenure -- specifically, their general mental weakness and inability to recover from glitches -- but we do have to give them credit for something: Mizzou did very little wrong in the last minute of play, and Baylor still almost caught up. Mizzou made 10 of 12 free throws and didn't turn the ball over, yet they still saw a seven-point lead cut to one as the buzzer sounded.

With 1:04 left, A.J. Walton missed a 3-pointer. Ratliffe pulled down the rebound and made two enormous free throws to give Mizzou an 81-74 lead. Then Pierre Jackson made a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left, Quincy Miller drove in for a layup with 36 seconds left, Miller manufactured a 3-point play (thanks to a stupid play by Kim English -- he went for the block and got whistled instead of just letting Miller lay the ball in) with 26 seconds left, Pierre Jackson made a running 3-pointer with five seconds left, and Brady Heslip made another 3 with a hand in his face at the buzzer. If Mizzou makes only nine of 12 free throws in the final 64 seconds, the game goes to overtime. And if Heslip doesn't miss a shot with 14 seconds left, Baylor quite possibly wins. Yes, the foul English committed was silly, and yes, Mizzou did technically miss two free throws (though complaining about 83% from the line in a tight final minute will fall on deaf ears with me), but I found very little to complain about in that stretch. Mizzou did enough to close in a hostile environment, and a very good team almost came back anyway.

One And Done

In the first half, Baylor shot 52 percent from the field and had a better BCI than Missouri, yet Mizzou took a four-point lead into halftime for the oddest of reasons: rebounding. In terms of expected rebounds, Mizzou was plus-6. Now, as mentioned in the preview, Baylor isn't a very good defensive rebounding team despite its length. The Bears play a lot of zone, which is not necessarily friendly to rebounding, and "bigs" like Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller do not always play very big. (Miller, in fact, had zero defensive rebounds for the day.) But Mizzou wiped the Bears off of the offensive glass in the first half as well, and that was stunning. It is officially impossible to predict when Mizzou will have "it" on the glass and when they won't, but they're doing better and better. They have basically broken even against "real" opponents in 2011-12, and that's ... well, it's going to be hard to beat Missouri if you cannot pummel them on the glass.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Phil Pressey 22.6 0.73 31 Min, 18 Pts (6-11 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-8 FT), 7 Ast, 6 Stl, 5 Reb, 4 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 22.5 0.66 34 Min, 27 Pts (11-14 FG, 5-7 FT), 8 Reb (6 Off), 2 Blk, 6 TO
Matt Pressey 11.2 0.40 28 Min, 9 Pts (3-5 FG, 3-3 3PT), 3 Ast, 2 Reb
Kim English 8.6 0.32 27 Min, 10 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Ast, 2 Reb, 5 PF
Marcus Denmon 7.8 0.20 39 Min, 15 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-7 3PT, 8-10 FT), 3 Reb, 5 TO
Steve Moore 7.4 0.41 18 Min, 4 Pts (2-3 FG), 3 Reb (2 Off), 2 Blk
Mike Dixon 6.4 0.28 23 Min, 6 Pts (1-5 3PT, 0-3 3PT, 4-4 FT)
  • I'm happy that Phil Pressey missed four of eight free throws and turned the ball over four times. It reminds me that he still has plenty of room for growth despite the fact that he almost single-handedly won this game over a two-minute stretch.
  • Ricardo Ratliffe averaged 1.93 points per field goal attempt, made two key free throws down the stretch (and 70 percent for game), pulled in almost as many offensive rebounds (six) as Quincy Acy (three), Quincy Miller (four) and Perry Jones III (zero) combined ... and raised his season field goal percentage.
  • I'm sorry, I just wanted to type this again. Ricardo Ratliffe averaged 1.93 points per field goal attempt, made two key free throws down the stretch (and 70 percent for game), pulled in almost as many offensive rebounds (six) as Quincy Acy (three), Quincy Miller (four) and Perry Jones III (zero) combined ... and raised his season field goal percentage. Goodness.
  • As was pointed out yesterday, Matt Pressey now has a better 3-point percentage for the season (40.5%) than Marcus Denmon (40.3%). Yes, Pressey's are infinitely more open -- as we've discussed for a while, opponents are going to key on Denmon and Kim English and force the Presseys to make jumpers whenever possible -- but the fact that he is making them makes Mizzou an incredibly dangerous team. When playing Missouri, you probably aren't going to have the quickness advantage, and you are going to have to make choices. As much as possible, to account for Mizzou's strengths, that "choice" is going to be "sag off of Matt Pressey a bit and hope he doesn't beat you." Instead, Big Pressey made all three of his 3-pointers, averaged 1.80 points per field goal attempt, had a 4.00 BCI (three assists, one steal, one turnover), and pulled down a pair of defensive boards. That is an absolutely perfect contribution from him.
  • Yes, he fouled out, and yes, his fifth foul was a bit silly. But Kim English once again played a perfect glue game yesterday. He ceded the offense to Flip-to-Ratliffe, he dished four assists, and he made what could have been the dagger 3-pointer with five minutes left.
  • First half from STEEEEEEEEEEVE: 14 minutes, four points, two offensive rebounds and two blocks. When Kimmeh picked up two pretty quick fouls, Mizzou was forced to play both of their bigs for most of the half. And Steve acquitted himself incredibly well. He was barely needed in the second half, but he not only kept Mizzou afloat in the first half -- he kept them ahead.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
P. Pressey 28% 44% 5.6 66% 18% 10% 6%
Ratliffe 31% 49% 2.1 0% 55% 22% 23%
M. Pressey 10% 54% 2.3 75% 21% 0% 4%
English 17% 48% 3.5 69% 23% 5% 3%
Denmon 22% 31% 2.0 21% 32% 29% 18%
Moore 8% 61% 0.5 0% 100% 0% 0%
Dixon 16% 35% 2.5 56% 24% 15% 5%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (No.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Yes!)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Yes!)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Yes!)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Yes!)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (No.)

Mizzou came awfully close to seven-for-seven here -- another field goal attempt (or assist, or turnover, or anything), each, from Denmon and Moore, and that probably would have done it. Mizzou's identity goes so far beyond Denmon, 3-point shooting, etc., at this point, and they can beat you in many different ways.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Road Things

And really, this is three keys in one. So you get five keys this time! By "Road Things," I mean a) offensive rebounds, b) fouls and c) Phil Pressey. If Mizzou acquits itself in these three categories, it can win any road game. If. If, if, if.

Expected Offensive Rebounds: Mizzou +4, Baylor +1
Fouls: Baylor 25, Mizzou 14
Phil Pressey: phenomenal

I think it's safe to say that Mizzou did the "road things" relatively well, huh?

Bombs Away

Baylor's offense ranks 14th on 3-point percentage (Mizzou's defense ranks 160th), while Mizzou's offense ranks 21st in the same category (Baylor's D: 128th). Both teams could get smoking hot from long range ... but if just one does, that team generates one heck of an advantage.

First 39 minutes: Mizzou 7-for-21 (33%), Baylor 2-for-10 (20%)

Baylor got hot late, but Mizzou flustered them considerably for the first 39 minutes, and it was one of many reasons they won. They didn't allow open looks (the quintessential play, of course, was Kim English hustling back to block what figured to be an open Brady Heslip look with about 10 minutes left), and while they didn't make many bombs themselves, they negated a potential Baylor advantage.

Ratliffe Watch

In Mizzou's one loss this season, Ricardo Ratliffe was dreadful: two points, one rebound and four fouls in 14 minutes. He was simply swallowed whole by a long, athletic, intense Kansas State squad. Ratliffe probably doesn't need to meet his season averages (14 points, seven rebounds) for Mizzou to win -- even if he meets those criteria, Mizzou probably needs the above factors to come away with a 'W' -- but he has to bring something to the table. Then again ... he pulled down four offensive rebounds on the way to an 11 & 13 game last year against Baylor. That might not be a bad place to start.

Yeah, um, I think Ratliffe one-upped himself here. Mizzou did need him to play well, and he was phenomenal.

Summary

This is fun. Let's try a few more "First time since..." instances in the next couple of months. Maybe even some "First evers" as well.

---

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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