Study Hall: Kentucky 90, Missouri 83

USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Pressey-Oriakhi-Bowers. Your winner: Nobody. Only one person even had Pressey atop the list.

In the end, here's the stat that probably mattered the most:

Missouri starting guards (Phil Pressey, Keion Bell, Jabari Brown): 117 minutes, 42 points (17-41 FG, 4-5 FT)
Kentucky starting guards (Julius Mays, Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin): 121 minutes, 58 points (19-38 FG, 14-17 FT)

Before the game, Goodwin said Kentucky's guards were better. Last night at least, he was right. And of course Goodwin would make a couple of 3's in the second half after shooting about 5% in SEC play.

The primary story, I'm sure, will once again be the fact that Flip Pressey made a couple of poor decisions in the final two minutes of overtime. I get it. The "Decide against the foolish 3-pointer a bit to late and throw to nobody in particular" move was particularly bad. It'll go into the lowlight reel right next to the turnover against Arkansas, the airmailed pass against Texas A&M, etc.

But Flip also scored 24 points on 50% shooting (Bell and Brown: 29%) with 10 assists and four steals. I just can't complain about his overall offense no matter how much I try. But when he isn't ending up with steals, his defense is, to put it kindly, iffy. Meanwhile, Jabari Brown over-pursues all the time. A lot of the shots Julius Mays were well-guarded with high degree of difficulty; but not nearly all of them were. Overall, Mizzou's defense has improved considerably over the last couple of weeks. Again, holding both Florida (0.91) and Arkansas (0.94) under a point per possession is incredibly good. But the defense just didn't show up nearly enough last night, especially after halftime. Kentucky started pulling down second-chance opportunities and slashing like crazy (credit where it's due: Kentucky's offense is terrifying when it gets rolling), and bad things followed.

Kentucky 90, Missouri 83

Mizzou
UK
Pace (No. of Possessions) 75.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.10 1.19
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.09 1.53
2-PT FG% 50.0% 54.8%
3-PT FG% 25.0% 41.2%
FT% 70.6% 63.9%
True Shooting % 49.7% 60.1%
Mizzou UK
Assists 14 16
Steals 10 3
Turnovers 9 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.67 1.36
Mizzou UK
Expected Offensive Rebounds 16 13
Offensive Rebounds 17 12
Difference +1 -1

1.19 points per possession is just too damn much.

It was made worse by the late free throws, but ... UK was allowed to be far too efficient. In Missouri wins versus real teams, the Tigers allow 0.97 points per possession. In losses, it's 1.12. And as we've seen countless times this season, Mizzou's late-game offensive issues only came about because of the defensive issues leading up to the late-game possessions.

My one comment about the officials:

I have absolutely no idea how Alex Oriakhi only got to the free throw line five times. And I'm not sure how Flip Pressey got there only once.

Also:

TV Teddy Valentine's histrionics are absurd. If I were a coach or a player in one of his games, I'd get two technicals just from rolling my eyes at him so much. He is Ed Hightower 2.0.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Phil Pressey 27.6 0.73 38 Min, 27 Pts (12-24 FG, 3-7 3PT, 0-1 FT), 10 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Reb, 4 TO, 4 PF
Alex Oriakhi 22.6 0.65 35 Min, 16 Pts (6-12 FG, 4-5 FT), 15 Reb (6 Off), 3 Stl, 5 PF
Laurence Bowers 11.7 0.42 28 Min, 13 Pts (5-9 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-4 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 5 PF
Keion Bell 6.3 0.18 36 Min, 8 Pts (3-11 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast
Jabari Brown 5.8 0.13 43 Min, 7 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT)
Tony Criswell 3.6 0.19 19 Min, 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 4 PF
Earnest Ross 3.2 0.14 23 Min, 6 Pts (3-8 FG, 0-4 3PT, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb
Ryan Rosburg 0.4 0.13 3 Min
Negus Webster-Chan 0.0 0.00 0+ Min
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Pressey 36% 48% 6.9 67% 27% 1% 5%
Oriakhi 21% 45% 2.0 25% 51% 20% 4%
Bowers 20% 46% 2.1 30% 46% 19% 5%
Bell 17% 31% 2.1 46% 43% 7% 4%
Brown 8% 36% 0.6 0% 76% 24% 0%
Criswell 20% 32% 1.4 0% 68% 21% 11%
Ross 20% 28% 1.3 0% 80% 9% 10%
  • In wins versus real teams, Flip Pressey's %Pass is 74%. In losses, it's 65%. Granted, last night's percentage would have been higher than 67% had players made any number of open jumpers, especially in the first half. But still, the %Pass number really does need to be higher, and for three reasons: 1) We of course don't want Phil Pressey shooting too much. 2) We don't want him to have to shoot too much. 3) Again, this is a good sign that players aren't making the jumpers he's getting them. Down the stretch last night, I wanted him to be shooting because I wasn't sure who else could make a jumper. Obviously Missouri could have gone inside to Alex Oriakhi more, especially after his exploits early in the second half, but that didn't happen. Pressey taking shots was either the best or second-best option to me.
  • Jabari Brown's last three games: 7-for-26 shooting (27%), 5-for-18 from 3-point range (28%), 27 total points. Laurence Bowers is starting to come around again (last two games: 30 points on 13-for-26 shooting); get Brown going, and just about everything works ... on offense, at least.
  • Last Six Games
    Keion Bell 16.2 Adj. PPG
    Alex Oriakhi 15.8
    Phil Pressey 12.6
    Jabari Brown 10.6
    Earnest Ross 7.3
    Laurence Bowers 6.7
    Everybody Else 4.6

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview. Yeah, I blew these.

The First 10 Minutes

Kentucky is not built to lean on its 3-pointer if it needs to come back, and the Wildcats don't force turnovers; they are, in other words, a team built to play from ahead. But even beyond that ... this is a Missouri road game. When the Tigers struggle away from home, it is likely accompanied by an absolutely awful start. I'd give examples, but you've probably memorized them by now. In each of the last two road games -- the massacre of Mississippi State and the shoulda-been-a-win against Arkansas -- Missouri has started well. Give Kentucky an early lead, and this young team could sprout newfound confidence. Put the Wildcats in an early hole, and Rupp Arena could be quiet for quite a while. (This is triply important considering the potential travel issues this team faces in escaping Columbia in time for the game. Iffy travel can lead to a sluggish start.)

First 10 Minutes: Mizzou 19, Kentucky 9

So Mizzou won, right?

The Glass

Kentucky wasn't an amazing rebounding team even with Noel. Meanwhile, Missouri has gone back to owning the glass for the most part in recent weeks. If the Tigers can dominate in this facet, limiting opportunities for Kentucky and generating second-chances for themselves, they will have a very good chance of leaving Lexington with a 20th win.

Expected Rebounds: Mizzou +2

So Mizzou won, right?

Laurence Bowers vs. Kyle Wiltjer

One has to assume that these two players will spend a good portion of the game guarding each other; each are power forward types who enjoy roaming the perimeter at times. Both have had plenty of ups and downs recently -- Wiltjer has scored 10 points or fewer in four of his last six games and has made just eight of his last 23 2-point attempts, while Bowers had his first truly strong offensive game in over a month against Florida (and even in that game, he needed 17 shots to score 17 points). Whoever wins this battle, at least statistically, will have potentially given his team the upper hand.

Laurence Bowers: 28 minutes, 13 points (5-9 FG), 5 rebound, 5 fouls
Kyle WIltjer: 18 minutes, 4 points (0-2 FG), 1 rebound, 0 fouls

So Mizzou won, right?

And I can't even say I blew it by failing to include Flip in these keys. Statistically, he was great, too. And Missouri lost anyway.

Summary

Ugh. One possession. If Missouri could improve by one possession, probably on defense, the Tigers could be somewhere between 22-5 and 24-3 right now. Instead, they're zeroing in on about a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament, having lost five road games by 2-3 points or in overtime. They could be a really, really dangerous 9-seed, but ... 1-seeds tend to play really good offense. That's probably going to be a problem. With every game, I become more firmly convinced that Missouri is a Top 25 squad, but defense and late-game execution have murdered them. If Missouri finishes strong in these last four games (and in the SEC Tournament), and if the committee does acknowledge that the Tigers are 14-4 when at full-strength, then perhaps a seven-seed is still a possibility. Hell, maybe a 6. But probably not.

The damage of the losses has been done, but last night showed that this team still has a lot of potential and, despite the end-game situations, a decent amount of poise. Kentucky caught fire and went up by seven with six minutes left in regulation, and Rupp Arena was rocking, and Missouri battled back to tie and give itself a shot to win in regulation. The potential's there. Missouri just has to keep pushing forward.

---

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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