Study Hall: Mizzou 67, Texas 66

First, two programming notes:

1. I'll be on 610 AM CT in Kansas City around 9:45(ish) AM or so to talk about both Mizzou-Texas and, of course, DGB.

2. No way in hell do I get to Rock-M-Tology today. I'm all sorts of behind, especially with tomorrow being National Signing Day. So, then, there are two choices: either I do it on Thursday or (more likely) Friday and make it a late-week feature moving forward, or I wait until next Monday. Your call. Thoughts?

Your Trifecta: Dixon-Ratliffe-PPressey. Your winner: soccerfreak!

We've got a pretty good "a road win is a road win" crowd here, so this reminder probably isn't necessary, but I will say that last night's game very much reminded me of one that took place three years and nine days earlier. Mizzou led Oklahoma State, 77-58, with under 12 minutes to go in January 2009, completely fell apart, then won anyway. Granted, with the way Texas was rebounding (and the way everybody but Mike Dixon and maybe Kim English were shooting), yesterday's 13-point lead with 16 minutes left did not feel tremendously safe. But still, Mizzou made many mistakes down the stretch, gathered themselves, then made the winning basket and played great defense on the final possession. And as that game three years ago showed us, style points simply do not matter on the road. The top five teams in the conference not named Missouri are almost certainly Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State in some order. Mizzou has now faced four of them on the road and have beaten three. Even if they had blown a 35-point lead last night and won anyway ... a win is a win. Survive, advance, et cetera.

Mizzou 67, Texas 66

Mizzou
Texas
Pace (No. of Possessions) 63.8
Points Per Minute 1.68 1.65
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.05 1.03
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.20 1.16
2-PT FG% 52.4% 48.9%
3-PT FG% 35.7% 16.7%
FT% 72.7% 66.7%
True Shooting % 55.1% 48.8%
Mizzou Texas
Assists 11 5
Steals 7 4
Turnovers 10 13
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.80 0.69
Mizzou Texas
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 13
Offensive Rebounds 6 16
Difference -5 +3

Texas Crushed Mizzou On The Boards This Year

In Big 12 plays, Mizzou is minus-18 in terms of Expected Rebounds. They were minus-14 in two games versus Texas and basically minus-4 versus everybody else. Mizzou made a concerted effort to limit J'Covan Brown's open looks and clog up the perimeter, and they did a solid job of it (Texas was 2-for-12 on 3-pointers and shot just 42 percent overall), but it came with a price. For certain periods, Texas was getting a second chance on virtually every missed shot. I was actually surprised that they were only plus-3 on the offensive side of the ball.

BCI! BCI!

Ball control was Mizzou's friend in two games versus Texas this year, and with poor shooting and iffy rebounding, it is the primary reason Mizzou is 7-2 in conference.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 23.6 0.87 27 Min, 21 Pts (9-10 FG, 2-2 3PT, 1-1 FT), 4 Ast, 3 TO, 4 PF
Ricardo Ratliffe 14.6 0.61 24 Min, 13 Pts (6-8 FG, 1-1 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 4 PF
Phil Pressey 14.5 0.40 36 Min, 13 Pts (4-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 5-6 FT), 5 Ast, 4 Reb, 2 Stl, 4 TO
Kim English 10.8 0.27 40 Min, 8 Pts (3-8 FG, 2-5 3PT), 6 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 TO
Matt Pressey 1.9 0.10 20 Min, 5 Pts (2-7 FG, 1-2 3PT), 2 Reb
Steve Moore 0.0 0.00 18 Min, 1 Pt (0-3 FG, 1-2 FT), 3 Blk, 2 Reb, 4 PF
Marcus Denmon -0.1 -0.00 35 Min, 6 Pts (3-12 FG, 0-3 3PT, 0-1 FT), 5 Reb
  • Well hello there, Mike Dixon. Thank you for finding your range when almost nobody else could.
  • 'Cardo only went to the line once, grabbed just one defensive rebound and committed four fouls. It was not his best effort. But he still made 75 percent of his shots, still scored 13 points, and still made his way into the trifecta.
  • It was Mostly Good Flip in Austin. He lost control a couple of times, but that's the price you pay. Once or twice per game, he seems to make single-handed (points or assists) six- or eight-point runs, and yesterday was no exception.
  • The less said about Marcus Denmon, the better. He is 29-for-93 (31%) in his last eight games, 12-for-52 (23%) on 3-pointers. You've got a few days off here, Marcus. Hope you find your legs. That Missouri is still winning despite his poor jumper means you don't have to do anything drastic here -- no, Haith is not going to be benching him anytime soon -- but there is no question that they will need Marcus' jumper if they want to win the Big 12. Hell, they'll probably have to have it if they want to beat Kansas this weekend.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Dixon 28% 70% 4.4 62% 26% 3% 8%
Ratliffe 20% 70% 1.2 0% 86% 14% 0%
P. Pressey 23% 43% 4.3 60% 16% 16% 8%
English 14% 30% 1.2 37% 50% 0% 13%
M. Pressey 20% 30% 2.0 46% 54% 0% 0%
Moore 12% 12% 1.0 0% 54% 46% 0%
Denmon 22% 20% 1.3 0% 84% 9% 7%

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. (No.)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (No.)
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.)

Three-for-seven, though if Mike Dixon hadn't turned into a shooting guard in the second half (instead of showing the point guard tendencies we prefer), Mizzou probably wouldn't have won.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

Brown Vs. Denmon

If Marcus Denmon is making his open 3's, Missouri is six to nine points better than they have been over the past few games. And depending on whether J'Covan Brown's are falling, Texas could be up to about 10-12 points better or worse. It stands to reason, then, that the spread of possible outcomes in this game is enormous. Whoever is more dialed in gives their team an enormous advantage.

Marcus Denmon: 35 minutes, six points (3-12 FG, 0-3 3PT, 0-1 FT)
J'Covan Brown: 38 minutes, 20 points (7-18 FG, 1-7 3PT, 5-8 FT)

Brown got his points, but he was inefficient. Still, he certainly won this battle.

Road Things

We know this one by now: offensive rebounds, fouls and Phil Pressey tend to make all the difference on the road. These things didn't cost Mizzou against Oklahoma State, but they did against Kansas State and nearly did against Old Dominion. If Good Phlip makes it to the Erwin Center, and if Mizzou hits the glass hard (think: Baylor game), they will have a good chance of moving to 20-2. But those are big ifs.

Expected Offensive Rebounds: Texas +8
Fouls: Mizzou 18, Texas 14
Phil Pressey: 0.40 AdjGS/Minute

Mizzou committed more fouls and got trounced on the boards. Meanwhile, Flip was good but not fantastic. How exactly did Mizzou win this game?

React

Ricardo Ratliffe's success has given Mizzou opponents a choice: do you go out of your way to prevent him from getting the ball, or do you continue to attempt to stick like glue to Denmon and Kim English, as has been the defensive strategy of choice for most of the year? Texas Tech chose to prevent Ratliffe, and English went 4-for-6 on 3-pointers early in the game. (Denmon, meanwhile, continuously failed to make his open jumpers.) 'Cardo had a lovely game versus Texas the first time around -- 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting -- so the 'Horns might adjust their defensive strategy. But for every action, there is a reaction. If that's what Texas chooses to do, Mizzou can kill them with jumpers. If they go in.

This game wasn't about reaction so much as adaption. Texas was able to mostly deny Ratliffe with single-coverage, and there were lengthy spans of time when they played great man defense. Mizzou was well below their season average in terms of points per possession, but they were still reasonably efficient thanks, basically, to their ability to recognize when Mike Dixon and Kim English were in good position to shoot, and their ability to score in transition in the second half.

Summary

Survive, advance, and kick-start Hate Week (after Signing Day, anyway). Despite Denmon's shooting woes, despite inconsistent rebounding, despite ball-handlers occasionally losing their collective mind, Mizzou will be tied for first place in the conference if they can win Saturday night. There's perspective, and there's that. Mizzou is grinding out wins despite failing in certain areas, and they have plenty of time to find their top form again. February should be just a little bit entertaining.

---

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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