Study Hall: Home Team y, Mizzou y-2

USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Bowers-Pressey-Ross. Your winner: Armchair Analyst.

Welcome to Study Hall's Greatest Hits! Hits like "This Isn't All on Phil Pressey," "Ross and Brown Sure Did Shoot Poorly," and "Don't Sit Certain Guys for So Damn Long Because of First-Half Fouls" can all be yours, along with an unreleased rarity like "Man, Did Mizzou Get Smoked on the Glass," for the low, low price of $9.99!

Tennessee 64, Mizzou 62

Mizzou
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions) 61.1
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.01 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.07 1.07
2-PT FG% 48.8% 37.5%
3-PT FG% 23.5% 35.0%
FT% 66.7% 81.3%
True Shooting % 48.0% 47.7%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 13 9
Steals 7 4
Turnovers 8 12
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.50 1.08
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13 14
Offensive Rebounds 10 18
Difference -3 +4

Man, Did Mizzou Get Smoked on the Glass

It started before Laurence Bowers got his second foul and continued for much of the game. Mizzou controlled the glass for the first few minutes of the game, and Tennessee won the battle most of the way thereafter. Mizzou made eight of its first 11 shots on offense, made just 16 of its final 47 (34%) and grabbed just 10 offensive rebounds (six of the deadball, no-putbacks variety), while Tennessee grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first and another 10 in the second. Tennessee missed 38 shots from the field, and somehow Tony Criswell and Ryan Rosburg combined for one defensive rebound in 20 minutes.

The result: Mizzou held Tennessee to horrendous 37 percent shooting, dominated on ball control ... and lost.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 24.5 1.02 24 Min, 20 Pts (8-12 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-3 FT), 5 Reb, 4 Blk
Phil Pressey 11.9 0.33 36 Min, 10 Pts (4-12 FG, 1-6 3PT, 1-2 FT), 9 Ast, 3 Reb, 3 Stl, 3 TO
Earnest Ross 10.6 0.38 28 Min, 9 Pts (2-10 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4-4 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast
Keion Bell 7.3 0.25 29 Min, 7 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 FT), 2 Ast, 2 Blk, 2 TO
Alex Oriakhi 3.8 0.17 22 Min, 6 Pts (3-6 FG, 0-2 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 4 PF
Jabari Brown 2.6 0.07 35 Min, 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb
Negus Webster-Chan -0.5 -0.09 6 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 3PT)
Tony Criswell -0.6 -0.05 14 Min, 4 Pts (2-5 FG), 2 Reb, 2 TO
Ryan Rosburg -1.6 -0.26 6 Min, 3 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Bowers 31% 59% 2.0 47% 40% 14% 0%
Pressey 24% 39% 6.2 76% 17% 2% 4%
Ross 23% 31% 2.9 47% 40% 14% 0%
Bell 15% 44% 2.3 57% 24% 8% 10%
Oriakhi 20% 33% 1.3 0% 69% 20% 11%
Brown 12% 31% 0.8 0% 80% 20% 0%
NWC 9% 0% 0.5 0% 100% 0% 0%
Criswell 28% 24% 1.6 0% 71% 0% 29%

This Isn't All on Phil Pressey

You knew this was coming, and I don't even want to type it. Rage at Phil Pressey all you want for the ill-advised 3 at the end -- he deserves it. (And if you want to toss some rage toward Frank Haith for acting surprised that Pressey took that shot and not calling time out to call a play, go for it. We know how Haith wants to handle the final possessions of a game, and he's pretty consistent about it, but there's no questioning that it has cost this specific team a bit.)

But Flip was also one of about 3.5 Missouri players to actually show up for the game's first 39 minutes. Bowers was incredible, Pressey was decent, Ross was decent in the hustle stats (and not from the field), Bell was quiet for a good chunk of the game (and passive on defense at ill-advised times) ... and the rest of the team did next to nothing. Alex Oriakhi grabbed some rebounds but scored half of the 12 points per game he had been averaging of late, while Brown, NWC, Criswell and Rosburg combined for -0.1 Adj. GS points. I'm tired of having to say it, but the late Pressey miscue doesn't matter if other Mizzou players bring even their B-games.

Brown and Ross Sure Did Shoot Poorly

Remember back in December and January, when Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross would alternate between shooting 60% in one game and 10% in the next (slight exaggeration, but only slight)? They stabilized a bit as the season progressed, but ... there was no stabilizing yesterday. They combined to shoot 4-for-17 from the field (24%), 1-for-6 from 3-point range (17%). It's not like they were alone in regard to poor shooting. Bowers was 8-for-12, Oriakhi and Bell were 6-for-11, and everybody else was 10-for-35. But still. It was a flashback I didn't need.

Don't Sit Certain Guys for So Damn Long Because of First-Half Foul Trouble

About six minutes into the game, Laurence Bowers got called for two fouls in about a five-second span. The second one was legitimate ... the first one was crap. Regardless, Bowers went straight to the bench and swung his towel down, knowing he was now doomed to sit on the bench for the next 14 minutes of the game.

Heading into this game, by the way, Bowers was averaging 0.09 personal fouls per minute. On average, it would probably take him about 33 minutes to pick up another three fouls. And to be sure, he had played the first 6:20 of the game foul-free. He would play 18 second-half minutes foul-free.

I've asked it before, but ... why in the hell do coaches do this? Again, I can't hammer Frank Haith for it because he's not alone; in fact, if he had left Bowers in there, the announcers would have probably talked repeatedly about how odd it was for him to do that. And god forbid it backfire; Haith would have been destroyed for that. In coaching, you often make the wrong play because it's somehow also the less risky play. That's what "two fouls and you're done" is.

If you've got a foul-prone big, then it might make some sense to monitor his foul situation pretty closely. But if you've got Laurence Bowers, who is in no way a foul-prone big, then you can be a little more liberal. In the 11 minutes after Bowers went to the bench, Missouri was outscored, 19-8. In attempting to ensure that Bowers would get plenty of possessions in the second half, Haith sacrificed about 20-21 possessions in the first half. With Bowers playing at an absurdly high level on offense to that point, those 20-21 possessions cost Missouri the game.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The Glass

I'm not sure rebounding has been more important to a single game this year. If Tennessee is grabbing rebounds, especially on the offensive end, then that pretty much confirms that they are also drawing fouls, getting points at the line, and softening up Mizzou's lineup on the interior. If Alex Oriakhi can both hit the defensive glass like he has of late (he has a 25% defensive rebounding rate in the last six games, which would be a Top 30 average for the entire season), and if Tony Criswell (21% in the last six games), Earnest Ross (16%), and Keion Bell (14%) can continue to pitch in (strangely, Laurence Bowers has only been at 10% in the last six), then the path to victory is pretty obvious. But if Tennessee is grabbing second chances, drawing fouls from Oriakhi and others, and ensuring that Frank Haith has to play players like Criswell and Ryan Rosburg more, then Mizzou's optimal lineup is not on the court, and the advantage shifts to Tennessee.

Expected Rebounds: Mizzou -7.

You think that made a difference? Again, this is what Tennessee does. They can't shoot, their defense comes and goes, and they aren't great at the ball handling. But they crash. And only Bowers (21% defensive rebound rate) and Oriakhi (18%) were prepared to handle it (which is awkward when they both end up sitting with two fouls in the first half).

Flipadelphia

It's a road game, which means all eyes are on Phil Pressey, and for all the reasons to which we've grown accustomed. If he's under control, finding open shooters, making that little tear-dropper in the lane, and playing reasonably acceptable defense (i.e. the opponent's point guard isn't going off, as has happened many times this year), then Mizzou is the better team.

Phil Pressey: 36 minutes, 10 points (4-12 FG, 1-2 FT), 9 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and one awful final-minute decision. Mostly solid ... and partially awful.

Slap the Floor

We saw against Arkansas and Florida just how well this team can play defense when the motivation is dialed up. (Yes, Arkansas got a lot of the same shots as South Carolina and LSU and just missed them; still, the defensive intensity was dramatically higher, and for a more sustained period of time.) Tennessee is not a good shooting team; don't let them find open shots. Don't let them find their rhythm. Force them to rebound against a great defensive rebounding Mizzou lineup. Hold them to fewer than 1.0 points per possession, or, hell, even 1.05, and you probably win.

Tennessee: 37.5% 2PT, 35.0% 3PT, 1.05 PPP

Mizzou's biggest issues on defense are that the Tigers don't turn you over and sometimes allow you some decent looks from the floor. (The FG% is not nearly as big an issue as we make it sometimes -- Mizzou's 86th in Effective FG%, which is actually pretty good -- but there are times...) Mizzou forced 12 turnovers and held Tennessee to some awful shooting, but they just couldn't secure the caroms, and it allowed Tennessee to creep over that magic 1.00 points per possession

Summary

In the end, a six-seed in the SEC Tournament is not the end of the world. It keeps Missouri out of Florida's side of the bracket, and Mizzou's path to the SEC finals could be Texas A&M-Ole Miss-Kentucky, three teams Missouri is more than capable of handling, even if they have to do it in a three-day span. But the what-if game is devastating. If Mizzou were basically one possession better on the road in SEC play, they legitimately could have gone 16-2 in the SEC and won the damn league. But they're the sixth seed instead.

This team's ceiling is high, and we know it. The Tigers were 24th in Pomeroy's rankings when Laurence Bowers got hurt, fell to 47th as he was fighting his way back, then surged back to 18th. If Bowers doesn't get hurt, Mizzou probably finishes around 10th or so. And the Tigers have not a single road game left on the schedule. The close-road-game issues doomed Mizzou to iffy seeds in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, but if you play well from here on out, it won't matter. The regular season determines how hard your road will be in March. Your play in March determines how we remember the season. Mizzou faltered at frustrating times with the former; now we find out about the latter, and in the end, the latter is all that matters.

---

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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