Missouri 68, N.C. State 64: Study Hall

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Clarkson-JW3-Brown.

I'll say this much for Frank Haith: The dude can reinvent. In three years, he has crafted teams with three distinct identities. In a lot of cases, a little bit of orthodoxy, a certain belief in "Here's how we're going to play ball" is a good thing. Haith has gone about things in a completely different way. We don't know how good or bad this is just yet -- then again, he's now 64-17 in 2+ seasons -- but it's certainly interesting to watch from year to year.

I'll also say this much about Missouri's team this year: It knows what it is. The lack of depth is scary, and the lack of contributions outside of the big four is going to kill the Tigers at times, but this team has a very clear view of its strengths and weaknesses. The Tigers are going to rebound the ball, play perimeter defense, and drive to the basket ... three things it wasn't particularly amazing at last year. (Well, the rebounding was pretty good.) And in the end, with the game on the line, the Tigers played to their strengths better than Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack played to theirs. And they've got an 11-1 record to show for it.

Missouri 68, NC State 64

Mizzou
NC State
Pace (No. of Possessions) 58.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.17 1.10
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.31 1.05
2-PT FG% 41.2% 47.5%
3-PT FG% 38.9% 28.6%
FT% 73.1% 57.1%
True Shooting % 53.6% 47.6%
Mizzou NC State
Assists 9 17
Steals 6 3
Turnovers 10 8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.50 2.50
Mizzou NC State
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.2 13.6
Offensive Rebounds 15 16
Difference +2.8 +2.4
  • Mizzou slightly won the rebounding, N.C. State relatively comfortably won ball-handling, and Mizzou relatively comfortably won the shooting battle despite Jordan Clarkson going just 5-for-15. Kind of a strange game in that regard.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jordan Clarkson 18.3 0.52 35 Min, 21 Pts (5-15 FG, 2-4 3PT, 9-10 FT), 1 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 PF
Johnathan Williams III 17.3 0.51 34 Min, 10 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-1 3PT, 1-4 FT), 7 Reb (5 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 PF
Jabari Brown 12.3 0.34 36 Min, 17 Pts (6-13 FG, 2-6 3PT, 3-5 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off)
Earnest Ross 9.7 0.26 38 Min, 11 Pts (3-8 FG, 2-6 3PT, 3-4 FT), 13 Reb, 4 TO, 2 PF
Ryan Rosburg 4.7 0.16 29 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 6 Reb (2 Off)
Tony Criswell 3.9 0.30 13 Min, 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Stl
Keanau Post 0.0 0.00 3 Min
Wes Clark -1.4 -0.12 12 Min, 1 Pt (1-1 FT), 2 TO, 2 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Clarkson 32% 41% 4.6 51% 32% 15% 2%
JW3 14% 53% 2.8 64% 26% 10% 0%
Brown 25% 40% 1.7 0% 74% 20% 6%
Ross 20% 29% 1.9 28% 39% 13% 19%
Rosburg 6% 38% 1.1 66% 23% 0% 11%
Criswell 37% 28% 2.5 0% 75% 15% 11%
Clark 11% 17% 0.8 0% 0% 26% 74%
  • Top two players in "%Pass": Rosburg and Williams. Kind of a strange game.
  • I feel comfortable in saying that Mizzou is going to be really, really tough to beat when Rosburg and Criswell combine for 8+ Adj. GS points. The Tigers don't need much from players outside of the big four ... they just need something. They got it on Saturday.
  • Extreme good and extreme bad from Earnest Ross, who destroyed souls on the glass but turned the ball over four times.
  • The difference between my comfort level in Wes Clark and his stat line is pretty stark. He defends pretty well (and with contact, as his foul rate can attest), and he just looks like he knows what he's doing and will be really good someday. And I guess for the season, his stats aren't terrible -- 46% shooting, 28 assists and six steals to 23 turnovers; still, his game-to-game contributions in the box score have been lacking.
  • Considering the one you made, that's the best 25% free throw shooting line I've seen in a while, JW3. I just love watching this guy float around near the rim on offense. He's got a nose for the ball that I cannot remember seeing at Missouri for quite sometime. Arthur Johnson averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds per game; Williams is the best since then.
  • Onions, Jabari. Onions.
  • I've quickly run out of things to say about Jordan Clarkson. Seriously, 20 PPG, 4 APG, 4 RPG? He plays like Julian Winfield and almost posts Anthony Peeler-esque stats. Such an interesting player.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

1. The whistles.

Did your radar perk up at "They tend to foul guards"? Because it should have. Mizzou's guards tend to draw fouls. If the Tigers can generate an advantage here -- and if the game is called as basketball is supposed to be called this year, and not in the old-school style of Saturday's Braggin' Rights game, then they should -- that's pretty big. Even if they're getting fouled by guards instead of bigs, that's fine; the State backcourt isn't incredibly deep. Just draw fouls wherever, and against whomever, you can.

Fouls: State 18, Mizzou 16
Free Throws: Mizzou 19-for-26, State 8-for-14

There was some inconsistency regarding what was or wasn't a foul, granted, but for the most part this game was called almost exactly how Mizzou would have wanted, and the Tigers took advantage.

2. The glass.

State's a pretty good rebounding team, and Missouri's a really good rebounding team. That Illinois was able to slightly win the battle on the glass on Saturday was huge considering Mizzou was generating advantages elsewhere. If Johnathan Williams III can come up big, and if guys like Ryan Rosburg and Tony Criswell can at least neutralize some of State's general girth (there are two 245-pounders, a 225-pounder, a 215-pounder, and of course a 325-pounder in the rotation), that would be huge.

Expected Offensive Rebounds: Mizzou +2.8, State +2.4

An advantage, but not much of one. T.J. Warren was a beast, picking up seven offensive rebounds by himself. And in the end, perhaps the biggest stat from this game (well, one of them) was the fact that while Jordan Vandenberg grabbed three offensive rebounds, he had zero defensive rebounds. Between foul trouble limiting him to 22 minutes and players like Rosburg and Williams going to work, the rebounding worked out just enough int he Tigers' favor.

3. How do you guard Warren?

Warren's Usage Rate is off the charts; the offense runs through him. He takes 14 2-pointers, three 3-pointers, and five three throws per game, and despite shooting so much, he's also decent on the offensive glass. He scored one-third of State's points and grabbed eight boards against Tennessee, and while he has occasional turnover issues, that's not something Missouri is likely to take advantage of. So how do you stop Warren from killing you while avoiding sacrificing any sort of size or matchup advantage elsewhere?

No really, I'm asking you.

Warren disappeared down the stretch, and while Kyle Washington came out of nowhere to carry the Wolfpack for a while, Mizzou simply made more plays down the stretch.

Summary

Like I said last week, I really felt Missouri needed to at least split the Illinois and State games to make sure its non-conference résumé didn't have a specific hole in it. (It's still not amazing, but it's pretty solid.) I felt Illinois was the more winnable of the two games, but in the end, if you had to choose one to win, take the true road game.

This team still has obvious deficiencies. The offense has dry spells when you stop the dribble drive (or, as mentioned many times by the announcers, force Clarkson to his left), and it still needs to get something from Criswell/Rosburg and Clark each game to feel comfortable about its chances. But the defense is improving quite a bit, and the offense has an identity. It knows what it is, and we have a better idea of what it is as well. There are worse things in the world than that as you head into conference play.

---

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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