Study Hall: Mizzou 63, Texas Tech 50

COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 28: Marcus Denmon #12 of the Missouri Tigers reacts after scoring during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on January 28, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Your Trifecta: English-Denmon-PPressey. Your winner: nobody.

First, some links!

Back around Thanksgiving, when Missouri was cleaning the clocks of Notre Dame and California, I would have placed a large amount of money on a mid-season fade. For any number of reasons -- opponent adjustments, lack of depth, one's simple inability to stay that smoking hot for four straight months -- the chances of the Tigers continuing to play that well were minimal, if nonexistent. The keys to this season, then, would be a) the length of the cold streak and b) the depth of the cold streak.

I think it's safe to say that, in terms of what Mizzou was doing to opponents in November and what they're doing now, we've entered the cold streak. In the last six games, Marcus Denmon is shooting 22.5% on 3-pointers, only one Tiger is shooting over 36% on 3-pointers (and that one person is Matt Pressey), opponents continue to bomb away themselves from long range (now 46.9% in the last six games), and Mizzou's overall assist totals are down (even with Phil Pressey's 12 yesterday). That these "last six games" include five wins -- including wins in Waco and Ames and an easy home win versus Texas -- tells us two things: 1) the depth of the cold streak is not anywhere near as bad as it was last year, and 2) Ricardo Ratliffe's impact on this team has been simply enormous. But make no mistake: as yesterday afternoon made evident, this team is not playing at anywhere near A+ capability. They could very easily regain their full form at any moment (and with next week's slate, it would behoove them to do so), but they don't have it at this exact moment.

Mizzou 63, Texas Tech 50

Mizzou
Tech
Pace (No. of Possessions) 60.0
Points Per Minute 1.58 1.25
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.05 0.83
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.31 1.14
2-PT FG% 48.1% 46.2%
3-PT FG% 28.6% 44.4%
FT% 82.6% 33.3%
True Shooting % 54.2% 53.6%
Mizzou Tech
Assists 15 14
Steals 13 3
Turnovers 10 21
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.80 0.81
Mizzou Tech
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 9
Offensive Rebounds 8 7
Difference -3 -2

I Want To Complain About Tech's Shooting Percentages, But...

Texas Tech made eight of 18 3-pointers yesterday, continuing an ongoing trend of Mizzou opponents sticking around with the long ball. But while my FG% defense worries weren't assuaged yesterday, I just can't complain much when an opponent a) averages 0.83 points per possession for the game and b) has more turnovers (21) than made field goals (20). Tech showed patience and the tendency to only take shots that were reasonably open; the problem, of course, was that, over the course of running their offense to get those looks, the odds of them getting such a look before turning the ball over were minimal. Tech ranks 82nd in the country in 3PT% and almost dead last in turnovers, so such a statistical spread was predictable. (And, of course, there was once again a bit of luck involved. The last 3-pointer they made yesterday was a long bank shot by their center. It would be great if this stupid luck would turn at some point in the next month. Or week.)

BCI! BCI! BCI!

One thing that hasn't regressed recently: ball control. In the last six games, Mizzou has logged 9.3 steals per game. Between this, and the fact that Mizzou's rebounding has improved quite a bit (in terms of expected rebounds, Mizzou is +1.5/game in this stretch), they are figuring out ways to take more shots than their opponents, even if they are not making them at their previous clip. When your possessions aren't going as well as they used to, you have to generate more possessions; that's what they're doing.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kim English 18.6 0.48 39 Min, 22 Pts (7-12 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-6 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Stl
Marcus Denmon 17.3 0.49 35 Min, 19 Pts (4-15 FG, 1-6 3PT, 10-10 FT), 6 Reb, 3 Stl
Phil Pressey 12.0 0.34 35 Min, 3 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 12 Ast, 4 Stl, 3 Reb, 2 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 8.8 0.35 25 Min, 8 Pts (4-6 FG), 4 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 TO
Mike Dixon 7.9 0.36 22 Min, 9 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-4 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast
Steve Moore -1.7 -0.10 16 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FT), 2 Reb, 2 TO
Matt Pressey -2.9 -0.10 28 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT), 3 Reb, 2 TO
  • We didn't know it at the time, but Kim English's early-game burst was just enormous. He had eight points before the first TV timeout, and while the rest of the team was missing their jumpers (first half: English 4-6 on 3-pointers, everybody else 0-5), he gave the Tigers a quick cushion that they would eventually relinquish. Tech made it very clear that they were going to go out of their way to prevent Ricardo Ratliffe from getting his looks and force a cold Mizzou team to make their jumpers; while that worked to an alarming extent at times, English made them pay just enough.
  • I really do commend the way Marcus Denmon has manufactured points without the benefit of his jumper. In the last three games, he has made just four of 21 3-pointers (an atrocious 19%), but he is averaging 17.0 PPG in that span because of the fact that that he has thrown himself toward the basket and earned 28 free throws (of which he has made 25). Mizzou's offense is nowhere near as effective without making the open looks, but they're trying their best to keep the train rolling in the meantime.
  • Phil Pressey: 12 assists, four steals, two turnovers, five field goal attempts. 75% point guard.
  • Mike Dixon: 19 points in three games after his 18-point outburst against Texas A&M.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
English 24% 45% 1.6 0% 64% 31% 5%
Denmon 33% 35% 2.9 19% 49% 31% 0%
P. Pressey 13% 46% 7.6 89% 6% 2% 3%
Ratliffe 19% 41% 1.1 0% 75% 0% 25%
Dixon 21% 43% 3.3 54% 23% 18% 5%
Moore 9% 0% 0.6 0% 0% 32% 68%
M. Pressey 15% 11% 0.8 0% 71% 0% 29%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (Yes!)
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%. (No.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (No.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (No.)

Four-for-seven. Not terrible, but Ratliffe did not get the ball in position to draw contact very much, and Steve Moore didn't really exist. (I'll give a pass to Dixon for being at 54% Pass instead of 55%, ahem.)

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Show Up

I hate saying that about a conference foe because it's a little mean, but ... this just isn't a very good team. Missouri has an opportunity to release some frustration from their trip to Stillwater, and they better take advantage of it. Tech offers some solid perimeter defense, but Mizzou should be attempting to run, run, run. Show up, play with intensity, win going away.

Mizzou scored 10 of the first 12 points and appeared poised to make short work of this one. But when the jumpers started clanging, the halfcourt offense became a bit confused and listless. They had enough bursts (10-2 at the start, 11-3 midway through the first half, 11-4 to start the second half) to get the job done, but between Tech's own decent play and Mizzou's lack of consistency, those runs didn't kick start other runs, as we're used to seeing at Mizzou Arena.

From Way Downtown

Tech doesn't shoot many 3-pointers, which is a shame against Missouri, as most opponents have tended to make their 3's lately. If someone like Nurse or Adams gets hot from long range, Tech could hang around. But really, this will be an opportunity for Missouri to remember what putting the clamps down is like. It's been a while.

Tech: 8-for-18
Mizzou: 6-for-21

This really is problematic. A four-guard lineup needs to be able to stretch defenses all the way to the 3-point line, but Mizzou has made over one-third of their 3's in a game just once in the last seven contests. Meanwhile, their opponents have done it six times in that span.

Pound It Inside

As mentioned above, Tech has two big men, and both are incredibly foul-prone. Hammer it inside to Ratliffe early, and crash the offensive glass, and see if you can't get them both out of the game. Tolbert is by far their best player, and if he's sitting on the bench, Tech has almost no chance of pulling the upset.

Tech did a wonderful job of negating Mizzou's advantage in this regard, despite the fact that Jordan Tolbert and Robert Lewandoski had as many combined fouls (six) as points. Good team defense on their part, though Mizzou's missed jumpers certainly helped the cause.

Summary

Time to find the legs on your jumpers, guys. A trip to Austin and Kansas' final (for now) trip to Mizzou Arena await.

---

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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