Study Hall: Mizzou 75, Old Dominion 68

Your Trifecta: Denmon-Ratliffe-PPressey. Your winner: not surprisingly, a lot of people. For this most common of Trifectas, Fullback U, Tigersintheheart, AlaTiger and MIZ-FKU all won. Sucks to be you guys -- you have to split your Denmoney amongst each other.

We start with some links, since I haven't actually provided any yet:
MUtigers.com: Denmon Helps No. 8 Missouri Beat Old Dominion 75-68
The Trib: Tigers survive scare at ODU
KC Star: Denmon leads No. 8 Missouri past Old Dominion
KC Star: Tigers make tracks early
KC Star: MU notebook | Ratliffe has double-double in homecoming
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou pulls out a tough victory
PowerMizzou: Post Game Hoops Thoughts
The Missourian: Missouri men's basketball defeats Old Dominion
Fox Sports MW: Mizzou off to strong start, defeats Old Dominion
The Virginian-Pilot: ODU falls to No. 8 Missouri 75-68 in hard-fought loss

Mizzou enters their final season of Big 12 play (it never gets old, or less weird, saying that) with quite a few questions to answer. Really, however, these are the same questions they had at the beginning of the year: perimeter defense was a problem last year, and rebounded looked to be an occasionally crippling liability, considering this team was bad at it last year and had only two bigs in the regular rotation. Phil Pressey still loses his mind (in a bad way) from time to time. Steve Moore still goes for stupid blocks and leaves himself exposed on the glass. Mike Dixon's jumper still comes and goes. Marcus Denmon still disappears from time to time. All of the things we feared about this team are true.

The difference is, the upside is quite a bit greater than any of us thought. Even with Pressey wasting a few possessions and Denmon misplacing his jump shot, Mizzou still averaged 1.15 points per possession last Friday night, an average they exceeded on the road just twice all of last season. They still rank second in the country in offensive efficiency, first in Eff. FG % and second in Turnover %. They are still 15th in 3-point shooting, second in 2-point shooting and ninth in free throw shooting. They are also still registering steals at a high rate and rarely fouling. And perhaps most importantly, they are still the ninth-most experienced team in the country.

The weaknesses haven't changed, and they aren't going to; but the way they put those weaknesses on full display and still found ways to beat two teams playing well, away from home, was impressive regardless. This team may not win the Big 12, and they may not end up a top seed in the NCAA Tournament when all is said and done. But it is a strong team, one capable of "falling" to 10th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings after "only" winning by seven points on the road. They are a few hefty steps ahead of last season's team, and I don't think any of us were willing to predict that to be the case two months ago.

Mizzou 75, Old Dominion 68

Mizzou
ODU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.1
Points Per Minute 1.88 1.70
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.15 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.39 1.10
2-PT FG% 51.4% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 41.2% 30.0%
FT% 59.3% 50.0%
True Shooting % 56.9% 49.2%
Mizzou ODU
Assists 16 14
Steals 11 5
Turnovers 12 15
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.25 1.27
Mizzou ODU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 14
Offensive Rebounds 12 20
Difference +0 +6

Golf Clap

First things first: some major kudos go to Old Dominion. I have no idea how that team was 6-6 heading into this game. In the first five minutes of the second half, Mizzou went on an incredible offensive run, one that convinced me that they would go on to win by 15-25 points. The Tigers scored 20 points in four minutes. Marcus Denmon made three straight 3-pointers, then Kim English made two. Flip Pressey had two steals and a monstrous dunk.

Mizzou went from down four points to up nine very quickly, and the run was ferocious enough that a lesser team would have folded. Old Dominion did not. They called timeout, gathered themselves, then immediately went on a 7-0 run of their own. They doubled their effort level (which was already rather high), and they rose from the canvas to record a knockdown of their own. It was a show of resilience, execution, experience and great coaching, and even though we as fans use each game through the lens of our own team (great results are our team's doing, bad results are our team's fault), ODU deserves a serious amount of credit for not only withstanding that run, but making one of their own.

Hello, Road

Old Dominion made shots they don't normally make, drew a few more fouls than Mizzou is used to committing (at least during the portions of the games where the refs weren't swallowing their whistles; nobody changes his mind about what constitutes a foul more times in 40 minutes than a college official), got a few calls Mizzou is not used to getting, and put in crazy effort on the offensive glass. Or to put it another way, Mizzou played on the road, and as a top-ranked team, no less. This isn't the last time that an opponent is going to put forth such a high-quality effort against the Tigers. Get used to it.

Bursts

If you had asked me right after the game, I would never have guessed that Mizzou shot 41 percent on 3-pointers or 48 percent on 2-pointers. I'd have guessed more like 33 percent and 44 percent. But that's the power of Mizzou's runs. They are so fierce that a) they more than make up for the slumps, and b) they make the slumps seem more stark. Mizzou was 2-for-12 on 3-pointers not taken in the first five minutes of the second half, but their quick streak of five in a row made up for that.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 20.9 0.54 39 Min, 19 Pts (5-13 FG, 4-9 3PT, 5-6 FT), 5 Ast, 3 Reb, 3 Stl
Ricardo Ratliffe 19.9 0.60 33 Min, 14 Pts (6-8 FG, 2-7 FT), 11 Reb (4 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Blk
Phil Pressey 12.7 0.34 37 Min, 14 Pts (5-10 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-6 FT), 7 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Reb, 5 TO
Kim English 12.6 0.37 34 Min, 16 Pts (6-12 FG, 3-4 3PT, 1-2 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off)
Matt Pressey 4.8 0.18 26 Min, 4 Pts (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 Ast, 2 TO
Steve Moore 2.9 0.24 12 Min, 2 Pts (0-0 FG, 2-2 FT), 2 Blk
Mike Dixon -0.3 -0.02 19 Min, 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-3 FT)
Kadeem Green -0.5 N/A 0+ Min, 1 PF
  • I spent about 30-33 minutes of the game worrying about Marcus Denmon. I spent the other 6-9 minutes marveling. He played poorly three-quarters of his time on the court, and he still found time to kickstart a 20-7 Mizzou run and nail what ended up being the game-winning 3-pointer. If only more players could look so good in their bad games.
  • Because you were in front of a hometown crowd and clearly putting some pressure on yourself, Ricardo, and because that effort also translated into four offensive rebounds and two blocks, I'll look past the 2-for-7 performance from the free throw line.
  • Like Mizzou as a whole, Phil Pressey's good moments simply overpower the bad ones, especially in the box score. Flip ended up with a BCI of 2.0, scored 14 points in 10 field goal attempts, and recorded yet another high-assist game. Makes it at least slightly easier to overlook the five turnovers and the few minutes in the second half where he once again tried far too hard to take over the game. He still proves himself a sophomore at key times.
  • Kim English is still the same Kim English he's always been -- streaky, prone to turnovers, etc. -- only, he is far, far more mature. He has stepped up at key times in each of the past two games, and he has minimized the impact of the bad. And he draws charges like nobody's business.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Denmon 22% 42% 3.8 61% 27% 10% 2%
Ratliffe 17% 57% 2.3 46% 31% 22% 0%
P. Pressey 24% 41% 5.0 67% 16% 8% 8%
English 21% 40% 1.3 0% 82% 11% 7%
M. Pressey 13% 35% 2.2 63% 22% 4% 11%
Moore 8% 36% 0.7 0% 0% 62% 38%
Dixon 25% 26% 1.7 0% 67% 23% 10%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (Nope.)
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. (Not even close.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Nope.)

Four for seven. Not bad. Denmon fought invisibility at times, and Mike Dixon was far too much "ineffective shooting guard" and not nearly enough "complementary point," but you overlook that in wins, right?

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Which Flip?

Phil Pressey lost control a bit against Illinois, attempting 15 field goals after shooting 15 in the previous two games combined. He is an often-brilliant point guard, but he still doesn't quite know how to seize control of a game when others aren't performing well. If he plays in control, doesn't force shots, and keeps penetrating and finding open men, Missouri isn't going to lose much in 2011-12. If he starts forcing shots and wasting possessions, however, tonight's game can be lost.

Phil Pressey: 37 minutes, 14 points, seven assists, three steals, five turnovers.

We got both Flips in the end.

The Glass

Mizzou has been surprisingly solid in terms of team rebounding this season, but effort can sometimes be an issue on the road. Mizzou was brilliant in the way they matched ODU's effort on the glass last year -- it was a primary reason for their blowout win -- and they will need to do so again. If the Tigers can stay within one or two in terms of expected rebounds, ODU will have to shoot very, very well to win.

Old Dominion: plus-6 in terms of offensive rebounding.

The Monarchs are not as good on the glass this year as last, but you couldn't tell it. They were phenomenal in their effort level in this regard, and Mizzou only matched the intensity for about half the game.

Welcome Home, Ricardo

This game is being billed a bit as Ricardo Ratliffe's homecoming. If the extra motivation results in high-quality play from Ratliffe, Mizzou should win easily. Sure, Mizzou needs to do the other typical "avoiding a road upset" things -- guarding the perimeter, etc. -- but if Ratliffe goes off, Mizzou will almost certainly get enough guard play to coast. But if he forces the issue and/or gets into early foul trouble, then ODU has enough depth up front to give Mizzou fits.

As with Flip, we got both Good Ricardo and Bad Ricardo. But it was enough.

Summary

I guess I've already summarized this one, haven't I? The only reason to be deeply troubled by this game is if you truly thought Mizzou had a chance to run (or nearly run) the table and end up a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Poor games happen to all really good teams -- Syracuse barely beat Marshall, North Carolina barely beat Long Beach State, Duke barely beat Belmont, Michigan State let Lehigh hang around for a long time, etc. -- and Mizzou appeared a little stunned by the effort they got from ODU. But they won, and they are still on track for a very good season. They are not one of the top three or four teams in the country, and their weaknesses will certainly bite them from time to time in conference play. But in each of the last two games, they won games they very much could have lost, and there is quite a bit of solace in that.

OU preview coming later in the day.

---

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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