Missouri 66, Western Michigan 60: Study Hall

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Surviving an intentional land mine and confirming fatal flaws...

Your Trifecta: Ross-Criswell-Brown. Tony Criswell picked a good game to get hot from the field.

(NOTE: the stats below don't completely reflect those of the official box score, which credited Criswell's missed dunk to Johnathan Williams III.)

Really, this game was almost designed to be an egg-laying of sorts. Finals are over, students are out of town, weird Sunday night tipoff that guarantees low attendance from those from KC and St. Louis. Add to that the fact that the basketball team spent eight straight days getting patted on the back for its performance against UCLA, and you've got a nearly guaranteed letdown.

Add to that a poor game from Jordan Clarkson, and you've got a game that is a lot closer than it should have been. It's nice that he chose this game to struggle -- instead of, say, the game this coming Saturday -- but struggle he did.

(And it says something about his game that "struggling" still results in 12 points and five assists. He's set the bar really high, really quickly.)

Missouri 66, WMU 60

Mizzou
WMU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 64.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.02 0.93
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.43 0.86
2-PT FG% 56.7% 34.8%
3-PT FG% 37.5% 20.8%
FT% 73.7% 92.9%
True Shooting % 60.7% 39.4%
Mizzou WMU
Assists 10 10
Steals 3 8
Turnovers 14 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.93 2.57
Mizzou WMU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8.9 17.4
Offensive Rebounds 6 14
Difference -2.9 -3.4
  • Really difficult to draw concrete conclusions about anything in this game. Mizzou kept a pretty big WMU team off of the glass on one end and was wiped out on the other. Mizzou's defense held WMU to 0.93 points per possession (anything under 0.95 is acceptable, really) but suffered lapses for possessions at a time. Mizzou's offense was horrifically sloppy but shot well ... somehow making more field goals than WMU despite 24 (!) fewer shot attempts. Just take this game for what it is, I guess: a forgettable episode in what could still be a pretty decent season. Every decent show still has some forgettable episodes, right?
  • Round by round scoring, just for fun.

    Round 1: 10-8 MU
    Round 2: 10-10
    Round 3: 10-10
    Round 4: 10-9 WMU
    Round 5: 10-9 MU
    Round 6: 10-9 WMU
    Round 7: 10-9 WMU
    Round 8: 10-8 MU
    Round 9: 10-10
    Round 10: 10-10

    This wasn't a listless affair, just a sloppy one. Mizzou came out with a solid 10-2 run (well, a "run" over a 5-minute span) and pulled off a 9-0 blitz midway through the second half. The problem was that awful ball-handling always gave WMU a path back into the game. Over the seven minutes outlined above, Mizzou outscored the Broncos 19-2. The other 33 minutes: WMU 58, Mizzou 47.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Earnest Ross 13.4 0.56 24 Min, 12 Pts (4-9 FG, 2-7 3PT, 2-2 FT), 7 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 PF
Tony Criswell 10.8 0.68 16 Min, 10 Pts (5-7 FG, 0-1 3PT), 4 Reb
Jabari Brown 10.7 0.28 38 Min, 15 Pts (4-10 FG, 2-4 3PT, 5-9 FT), 3 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 1 PF
Jordan Clarkson 10.5 0.31 34 Min, 12 Pts (3-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 5-6 FT), 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 TO, 3 PF
Ryan Rosburg 7.2 0.33 22 Min, 6 Pts (3-4 FG), 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 4 PF
Johnathan Williams III 5.7 0.20 29 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG), 7 Reb (3 Off), 4 Blk, 2 TO
Wes Clark 4.9 0.18 28 Min, 9 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 TO, 3 PF
Keanau Post 0.0 0.00 4 Min
Torren Jones -0.5 -0.26 2 Min, 1 PF
Shane Rector -1.3 -0.43 3 Min, 1 TO
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Jordan Clarkson 25% 38% 4.4 62% 17% 12% 8%
Jabari Brown 25% 34% 1.7 0% 49% 42% 10%
Earnest Ross 24% 43% 1.5 0% 83% 17% 0%
Johnathan Williams III 12% 14% 0.7 0% 67% 0% 33%
Wes Clark 23% 38% 3.4 60% 17% 6% 17%
Ryan Rosburg 11% 77% 2.3 75% 25% 0% 0%
Tony Criswell 22% 81% 1.2 0% 100% 0% 0%
Shane Rector 20% 0% 1.1 0% 0% 0% 100%
  • Ross and Brown combined to shoot a decent-not-great 4-for-11 from 3-point range. But they were well-timed. Three of the four came after WMU had cut Mizzou's lead to two points. The Tigers always had an eventual answer, even if it was a little more "eventual" than we'd prefer.
  • I almost thought Tony Criswell was going to forego his customary 3-point attempt. He did not. Still, he made his first five shots from the field, and they were very, very welcomed. A Criswell jumper capped the key 9-0 run in the second half.
  • Jordan Clarkson got frustrated in the second half, didn't he? Since Mizzou went ahead and won, we can say that was a good coaching moment. He responded with another turnover or two, but he hustled, he blocked a layup attempt after a turnover, he made a 3-pointer and a couple of free throws ... he responded well in the end. And again, always good to get your iffy performances out of the way against iffy teams.
  • Johnathan Williams III: three offensive rebounds in 29 minutes. Ryan Rosburg, Tony Criswell, Torren Jones, and Keanau Post: one offensive rebound in 44 minutes. I do realize that if one person is grabbing then, someone else can't also grab them; but still, Mizzou was -2.9 for the game in terms of expected offensive rebounds, and JW3 more than played his part. Others have to, too.
  • Damn, is JW3 going to be good when he learns to use the glass on his little, spinning jumper.
  • Freshman game from Wes Clark. He shot well and grabbed four defensive rebounds (while I can complain about the offensive glass, the team rebounding at the other end has been outstanding all season), but his three assists were negated by five turnovers and three fouls.

Summary

In the end, I guess the ingredients to this game were pretty familiar. Mizzou showed nice explosiveness in a couple of runs and kept WMU off of the offensive glass for the most part. (Here's where "expected" offensive rebounds come into play -- 14 offensive rebounds for WMU seems like a lot until you realize the Broncos missed 49 shots from the field.) At the same time, the Tigers couldn't avoid offensive funks and turned the ball over a drastic amount.

The thing about the basketball season is that it's long enough, and the level of competition varies enough, that you can almost always pick out your fatal flaws long before they actually kill you. We knew that poor rebounding and/or finishing near the hoop would do in this or that Mike Anderson team. We knew that a big man with skill could eventually end the wonderful 2011-12 season (though we didn't think it would happen as soon as it did). We knew that the "Mike Dixon-sized hole in the lineup" would eventually finish off a Missouri team that needed one more scorer and a backup point guard last year. You just hope your strengths can take you a long way before your flaws take you down.

For this team, it appears that ball handling will eventually do the Tigers in. The strengths are strong enough to potentially take Mizzou pretty far before this happens ... but it's probably going to happen. In a game that we will otherwise forget last night, the Tigers still managed to turn the ball over 14 times and threatened to lose a game in which they shot 20 percent better than their opponent. It won't always be that bad, obviously, but ... that's probably not the last time it'll be that bad. The timing of this game was almost designed to produce a sketchy result, so I'm not too worried about the final margin; but it still confirmed Missouri's flaws. Now it's time for the strengths to show and for Missouri to go get its fifth straight win (and Frank Haith's third) over Illinois regardless.

---

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.

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 an offensively limited center, 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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