Study Hall: Mizzou 90, South Carolina 68

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Who would have thought that when Mizzou put together its most complete offensive game of the season, it would lead to a comfortable victory over an overmatched opponent? ...Everyone? Okay then.

Your Trifecta: Brown-Bell-Oriakhi. Your winner: nobody!

Frank Martin is in his sixth year as a D-1 head coach. In his first five seasons, his teams were chronologically ranked 23, 42, 17, 31, and 21 nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. As we all know, a Martin squad thrives on physical pressure defense aiming to turn the opponent over on the perimeter and doing everything they can to prevent an easy shot in the paint (a Martin team excels at 2 point field goal defense). While the South Carolina program is obviously going to take some time to get to the level of his K-State teams, it's worth noting that only one opponent had gone over 80 versus USC this season and they were holding opponents to an average of 67.6 points a game before last night. The Gamecocks are by no means good at defense (or basketball) this year, but they have been just four points per 100 possessions worse than the SEC average in conference play.

As Mizzou fans, we are quite familiar with the Martin game plan--but I wanted to bring up his prowess as a defensive coach for one reason: the man teaches (an interesting form of) defense very well. And Mizzou shredded them to pieces last night in what was unquestionably the offensive performance of the season. The Mizzou lineup played the kind of aggressive yet unselfish team basketball that we came to expect of last year's squad, with less reliance on the three pointer.

Mizzou 90, South Carolina 68

Mizzou
S.C.
Pace (No. of Possessions) 60.7
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.48 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.96 1.21
2-PT FG% 70.3% 46.7%
3-PT FG% 66.7% 38.5%
FT% 76.9% 71.4%
True Shooting % 78.3% 54.7%
Mizzou S.C.
Assists 19 14
Steals 6 5
Turnovers 12 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.08 1.90
Mizzou S.C.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 6 12
Offensive Rebounds 6 12
Difference +0 +0

Lucky for me, the key stats of last night's game are likely already popping out of the screen for most Study Hall aficionados; you won't need Bill to illuminate a less apparent statistical reason for the outcome. I only need to point to a few things here. First, 1.48 points per possession. 1.48. Next, 1.96 points per shot from the field. 1.96. (Think about that; the majority of shots that a team takes from the field are worth two points. An astronomic number like 1.96 requires out of this world shooting from the field, getting to the line a lot, and making those shots. All things that happened last night.) Finally, a true shooting percentage of 78.3%. Hoooooooooooooly schnikes. It really was a dominating offensive performance. And maybe the best compliment you can pay the Tigers for their work last night is that their offensive game plan was sustainable; it was not a bunch of shots with higher degrees of difficulty randomly falling (cough, the Gamecocks' first half, cough). Pressey, Bell, and Brown simply broke down the Gamecocks perimeter defenders at will, made the right pass to the right teammate at the right time, and took great shots. Just beautiful to watch.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jabari Brown 24.6 1.07 23 Min, 23 Pts (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-9 FT), 5 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl
Keion Bell 21.5 0.69 31 Min, 24 Pts (8-12 FG, 1-1 3PT, 7-8 FT), 4 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 TO
Alex Oriakhi 20.2 0.75 27 Min, 18 Pts (6-6 FG, 6-6 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Blk
Tony Criswell 6.6 0.32 21 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 2-3 FT), 5 Reb, 2 Stl
Earnest Ross 5.2 0.21 25 Min, 8 Pts (3-4 FG, 2-2 3PT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 3 TO, 4 PF
Phil Pressey 4.4 0.14 31 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 9 Ast, 5 Reb, 3 TO
Laurence Bowers 3.7 0.15 24 Min, 6 Pts (3-5 FG), 3 Reb, 2 Blk, 4 PF
Stefan Jankovic 2.8 0.94 3 Min, 3 Pts (1-1 3PT)
Ryan Rosburg 0.8 0.25 3 Min
Negus Webster-Chan 0.2 0.02 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-2 3PT)
Corey Haith 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Brown 37% 63% 6.7 62% 21% 15% 2%
Bell 33% 55% 4.6 53% 27% 15% 9%
Oriakhi 21% 69% 1.4 0% 51% 41% 8%
Criswell 17% 38% 1.1 0% 54% 33% 13%
Ross 16% 37% 0.9 0% 57% 0% 43%
Pressey 6% 53% 5.8 95% 0% 0% 5%
Bowers 14% 44% 0.8 0% 83% 0% 17%
Jankovic 19% 100% 1.1 0% 100% 0% 100%
NWC 21% 28% 2.9 60% 40% 0% 0%
  • It's probably poetic justice to some regulars of the basketball live threads that I get to write the Study Hall post after Jabari Brown dominates a game. Let's just say that if Jabari played that level of aggressive (yet controlled in shot selection) and unselfish basketball on a consistent basis, while not being visibly and repeatedly exposed on defense, I might be saying goodnight to my Jabari Brown shrine every night. (Right next to the Brian Grawer, Melvin Booker, and Kenge Stevenson shrines, right?) Okay, so I don't have any Mizzou shrines--not much of a shrine kind of guy--and couldn't think of a better way to describe Jabari's game last night.
  • Once Keion Bell grew comfortable in the role he has been asked to play for the Tigers, he has arguably been the Tigers' best player. It says a lot about him as a person that he could leave a place where he was mostly permitted to take 30 percent of his team's shots and then adjust to the diminished role he has here, while looking so natural and comfortable in doing so. The kind of game he played last night adds a huge dimension to the Tigers offense that wasn't present before his emergence.
  • It is fun when Alex Oriakhi makes 100 percent of his shots in a game. I will fondly remember both he and Keion for their ability to fit their roles and be team-first players. Doesn't hurt that they both have good personalities.
  • Sometimes I think that the Game Score metric does not weigh assists heavily enough, and Phil's game last night is perfect proof of that. He ran the team beautifully, and I give him props for letting the game come to him instead of trying to dictate the game from the outset. He realized early that the Gamecock defense was not up to the challenge of stopping the Tiger offense--especially Bell and Brown--and he yielded shots (and the ball) to his teammates much more than we are accustomed to. But let's be real here--the Tigers are not going to have any other games where we won't need Phil to shoot at least 5-7 times unless they get have to play one of the bottom four teams in the second round of the SEC tournament.
  • Microcosm of Earnest Ross' season: when the shot is falling, he turns the ball over three times and has four fouls, at least two the result of being way out of control offensively. Every positive comes with a negative. He will be a hugely important piece of next year's team, and I do expect a lot of improvement once he's more comfortable with his own game.
  • Don't care what the Game Score says; some very positive minutes from NWC last night. It seemed, in real time, that NWC was inserted because the USC bigs were stretching the floor with the outside shot and the Tigers went small to stop the momentum. His jumper kick-started an 11-4 run to end the first half, and he made the best alley-oop pass that any Tiger has made this season to Bell for a wicked slam. (Wicked, yep, used in honor of Bill's trip to the Northeast.) He is rangy, and his long arms will be a defensive asset as he matures.

Three Keys Revisited

From Thursday's preview.

Dominate under the rim.

The Gamecocks are very, very small and they foul a lot. We need our bigs to play BIG, and if we can out rebound them, draw fouls, and score in the paint, I like our chances here.

Rebounding: even. Draw fouls: check. Score in the paint: Check PLUS PLUS, with a gold star given to everyone last night, kindergarten style. And the best part? It wasn't just the bigs dominating under the rim--it was the entire team.

Stop Carrera.

South Carolina has been kind of a one man show lately, and if we can control that show, there won't be much else for Gamecock fans to get excited about.

Carrera: 3 for 6, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 fouls. Consider that show controlled. (Side bar: I don't think I like Carrera much. He will get a few technicals before his career is over because he plays out of control way more than most players, and I hope he doesn't hurt someone.)

DEFENSE.

After that game against Kentucky, we all know what the narrative at practice has been. That was at times an awful defensive showing by our Tigers, and if we can get that figured out, we should be able to handle business on the road against a team that struggles mightily on offense.

After a first half that saw many improbable shots fall for "Cocky" (how many times did Rece Davis say that last night?), the Tigers held USC to 30 points in the second and the overall defensive numbers for the game were at least respectable, if not quite good. Perhaps the most promising aspect of the D last night was how many times it turned into quick offense on run-outs. The Tigers out-hustled an inferior team, and it showed.

Summary

12-6 in the conference is within reach, and if that happens, the Tigers are likely to sneak into the top four of the SEC one way or another based on the remaining SEC schedule. Two huge revenge games loom--3/5/13 especially--and a game at Tennessee that may determine the Vols' tournament fate. Just keep winning, and not only will any doubts about Mizzou's tourney spot be quelled, but the seed will get better and better.

---

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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