Study Hall: Mizzou 98, Ole Miss 79

USA TODAY Sports

Consider this your Sunday Live Thread.

Your Trifecta: Oriakhi-Bell-Pressey. Your winner: Nobody!

Three conclusions from yesterday:

1. Coaches are basically cheerleaders during the game. The tactics and analysis come into play before and after game time; during the game, as we learned from pinning a microphone on Frank Haith, coaches are primarily limited to yelling things like "Go! Go!" or "Come on! Come on!" or "That was a travel, ref! Travel! That was a travel!"

2. Mizzou is damn good in transition. Granted, it's not like we didn't already know that. And granted, it's not like the Tigers play at a terribly slow pace (they're 79th in Adj. Tempo), but the Tigers are at their most aggressive when 4-5 guys are running at the basket, and they should try int more often, especially when trying to generate some energy on the road.

3. Rivalries simply need time. At the end of the hoops season, I'm going to write a "How are the conference rivalries coming along?" post with factors like "tight games" and "budding hatred." It probably goes without saying that these two games versus Ole Miss have given the "budding hatred" score with the Rebels a nice bump.

4. This team's ceiling is still awfully high. I'm not sure I buy the "Top 10 talent" argument -- I think Mizzou lost its claim to that level of elite talent when Mike Dixon left. But ... Top 20? Absolutely. And yesterday was about the first time since Laurence Bowers got hurt that Mizzou truly looked like a Top 20 team. It furthered the "Mizzou is great at home and stinks on the road" argument, but make no mistake: Mizzou doesn't typically look that good at home. The Tigers passed with purpose (less three-man weave at the top of the key, more creativity, skip passes, and good looks), grabbing every rebound, and, against an aggressive, physical team, was more effectively aggressive and physical. Great stuff.

5. Ian Eagle is underrated. I like him a lot.

6. The SEC is a physical league. And the refs let it happen. Yesterday, they let it happen far too much, and with about 7:30 left in the game, they were, in part, responsible for a pretty ugly incident. The three minutes before the tussle were a damn football game.

7. Laurence Bowers is not yet 100 percent. That Mizzou played that well yesterday without getting much from him was great, but Mizzou will need him back to December form if it is to have a fun March.

Mizzou 98, Ole Miss 79

Mizzou
UM
Pace (No. of Possessions) 71.1
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.38 1.11
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.32 1.14
2-PT FG% 45.1% 45.1%
3-PT FG% 52.2% 33.3%
FT% 80.0% 83.3%
True Shooting % 59.2% 51.4%
Mizzou UM
Assists 14 9
Steals 10 4
Turnovers 9 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.67 1.18
Mizzou UM
Expected Offensive Rebounds 15 15
Offensive Rebounds 22 13
Difference +7 -2

This game had 29 fouls...

...and felt about twice as physical as the Auburn game that had 49 last Saturday.

The 3-pointers were great...

...but Mizzou won this game with rebounding and ball control. The 3-point shooting gave Mizzou a big cushion, they weren't going to lose this game with the way they dominated the glass and ball.

Home-Road.

Again, Mizzou is not typically this good at home, but ... damn, the Tigers really almost averaged twice the points per possession in this game (1.38) than they did in Oxford (0.74).

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Alex Oriakhi 31.4 0.95 33 Min, 22 Pts (7-10 FG, 8-10 FT), 18 Reb (10 Off), 3 Blk, 2 Stl
Keion Bell 19.5 0.65 30 Min, 21 Pts (8-12 FG, 3-3 3PT, 2-3 FT), 3 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Phil Pressey 14.9 0.47 32 Min, 22 Pts (9-23 FG, 4-8 3PT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 4 Ast
Jabari Brown 13.3 0.37 36 Min, 14 Pts (5-11 FG, 3-7 3PT, 1-1 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Ast
Earnest Ross 9.1 0.43 21 Min, 10 Pts (3-6 FG, 2-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 7 Reb, 3 Stl, 4 TO
Tony Criswell 4.9 0.26 19 Min, 5 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-2 FT), 7 Reb (4 Off)
Laurence Bowers 4.3 0.17 26 Min, 4 Pts (1-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 4 PF
Negus Webster-Chan 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Ryan Rosburg 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Stefan Jankovic -0.4 -0.43 1 Min
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Oriakhi 20% 55% 1.7 0% 53% 42% 5%
Bell 22% 56% 3.3 52% 35% 7% 6%
Pressey 33% 39% 4.3 50% 48% 0% 2%
Brown 14% 48% 2.4 60% 37% 3% 0%
Ross 23% 34% 2.4 34% 34% 9% 23%
Criswell 16% 35% 2.1 44% 37% 12% 7%
Bowers 12% 31% 2.2 61% 31% 8% 0%
  • Oriakhi's performance yesterday was Mizzou's best of the season from an Adj. GS perspective. He was incredible. And, in the late-game tussle, pretty stupid. But you probably don't get Great Oriakhi without Dumb Oriakhi.
  • MU Players with 22 points and 18 rebounds in a game since 1958-59 (according to Mizzou Historian Tom Orf):

    John Brown (vs. Oklahoma, 1/15/1972): 26 & 18
    Al Eberhard (vs. Iowa State, 1/12/1974): 31 & 20
    Curtis Berry (vs. Kansas, 3/6/1981): 26 & 19
    Derrick Chievous (vs. Kansas State, 3/5/1988): 35 & 18
    Jeff Warren (vs. UNLV, 12/14/1991): 24 & 18
    Arthur Johnson (vs. Marquette, 3/22/2003): 28 & 18
    Leo Lyons (vs. Oklahoma State, 2/26/2008): 27 & 18
    Alex Oriakhi (vs. Ole Miss, 2/9/2013): 22 & 18
  • That was an absolutely absurd "hanging on the rim" technical on Bowers, by the way. He let go the moment he was somewhat perpendicular with the ground. That said...
  • Laurence Bowers since his return from injury: 22.5 MPG, 8.3 PPG (46% FG, 17% 3PT), 3.8 RPG (2.0 defensive), 0.5 APG, 0.8 BPG, 1.0 TOPG, 3.0 PFPG, 6.7 Adj. GS PPG. That's not Laurence Bowers.
  • Phil Pressey took 23 shots, and as you see from the %Pass figures above, Jabari Brown and Laurence Bowers were almost more point guard-esque than Flip was yesterday. Still, I didn't hate his game. A lot of his shots came when there were either one or two good offensive rebounders hanging around the basket, and with the way Mizzou can dominate the offensive glass sometimes (the Tigers' offensive rebound rate was 54%, so if he missed, there was about a 50-50 shot that Mizzou was grabbing the carom), I was totally okay with those attempts. He attempted a couple of 3's in transition with nobody underneath, and though he made at least one of them, those are the shots I cannot stand.
  • Is the corner 3 really an easier shot? I've seen people mention something to the effect of "it's shorter, therefore it's easier" in the past (and again yesterday), but ... does the length of the shot really matter? To me, shooting's always been about muscle memory and repetition. I was always infinitely better shooting 3's from the top of the key or from the wings. I would absolutely bomb corner 3's from time to time because I would shoot them like a normal-length 3. Anyway, I bring this up because ... well, from what we saw yesterday from Keion Bell, the corner 3 is about 100x easier. He was smooth and confident in going 3-for-3 from the corner, and ... well ... if Keion Bell can be counted on to make some 3's, this team's offensive ceiling is infinitely higher.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Win on the glass.

Good rebounding wouldn't have saved Missouri with the way the Tigers were shooting in Oxford, but it's hard to derive an overall advantage against Ole Miss if you don't beat them on the boards. Alex Oriakhi did not fare well at Ole Miss, and the Holloway/Buckner combination is a little bigger than Laurence Bowers would prefer to handle, but ... Mizzou needs to find a way to not get manhandled here.

Mizzou: +9 in terms of expected rebounds.

Yeah, it's really difficult to beat Missouri when the Tigers are, in essence, creating nearly 10 more possessions than their opponent.Oriakhi, Criswell and Bowers combined for 16 offensive rebounds; Ole Miss players grabbed a total of nine (and got four more via "team rebound").

Good Flip.

It's probably kind of key from this point forward, huh? As Phil Pressey goes, so goes this team. I think he has caught far too much flack for his failings of late, but there's no question that there have been too many failings, and because he is Mizzou's quarterback, it's going to get noticed. But with the way Mizzou got trounced in the ball handling battle in Oxford, Flip simply has to have a decent game.

Phil Pressey: 22 points on 23 shots, 4 assists, 0 steals, 1 turnover

Just from a pure "confidence and control" perspective, this was Very Good Flip. He did take at least 2-3 terribly ill-advised shots, and he stopped making shots after a nice early string, but he carried himself like he needed to, and the team followed suit.

Home love.

The crowd at Ole Miss was not that large, but it was salty and effective. Mizzou is a team lacking in confidence a bit right now, and the home crowd will need to get involved. If Mizzou can go on a couple of runs, get out in transition, and play solid, aggressive basketball (i.e. draw fouls and score some free points), the crowd should respond well. While Ole Miss has indeed won on the road (something Mizzou can't say this year), the Rebels did need overtime to beat Vandy and only beat Auburn by two, and they fared only marginally better at Florida (they were down 23 with 12 minutes left before cutting the final margin to 14). Like Missouri, they are not nearly the same team away from home. And they're away from home. Make them play like it.

Runs: 13-2 Mizzou (17:45 to 13:59, 1H), 12-0 Mizzou (11:09 to 9:04, 1H), 7-0 Mizzou (9:09 to 8:20, 2H).
Free Throws: Mizzou 16-for-20
Crowd: Loud throughout.

Success.

Summary

Again, bottle that up and do it again. Yesterday reaffirmed that Mizzou's ceiling is still super-high. That's going to make it doubly, triply unacceptable if Mizzou lays an egg at Mississippi State on Wednesday. Four of Mizzou's next five games are on the road, and the lone home game is against Florida. The Tigers could go 4-1 or 0-5. This win was a nice send-off, but Mizzou is about to define its season one way or another. Hopefully we see a lot more of what we just saw.

---

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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