Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Missouri could still be capable of digging out of the 8-9 hole in the NCAA tournament bracket with a good few days in Nashville. It begins with a rematch against Texas A&M.
Texas A&M Aggies (18-14)
Since Last Time
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||53.6%||54.1%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm||10.7||10.6|
Texas A&M is a frustrating team to play in a tournament setting. By all means, Missouri should handle this game pretty well -- the Aggies are basically a three-man team, they lost four of five to end the regular season (including a home loss to LSU), and Pomeroy has Mizzou projected to win by 10 -- but A&M has hinted at high upside at times (they beat Mizzou, and they won at Kentucky), and Elston Turner is a "put the team on your back and go score 30 points" guy. If he gets hot, A&M could absolutely pull an upset. And if he doesn't, of course, they probably can't.
As we see above, A&M really hasn't been that great of late. They shoot reasonably well, but you do too. Their ball control numbers on offense are solid, but so are yours. And in terms of expected rebounds, they are losing by about a board a game despite some occasionally impressive work from Kourtney Roberson and Ray Turner. They can look good, but it's been a while.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
|A&M Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|A&M Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||65||49||push|
|MU Offense vs A&M Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||A&M Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||8||244||MU big|
Where the Aggies are weakest
They turn the ball over like crazy (which means they are not well-positioned to take advantage of one of Missouri's bigger weaknesses), they don't draw fouls (which is a shame because they shoot free throws pretty well), and they don't shoot many 3-pointers (which is a shame because they shoot them pretty well). On defense, they give up a ton of second-chance opportunities, they foul a bit too much, and they foul guards, who tend to make the free throws. Alex Caruso is a wild man up top, a long point guard capable of coming up with steals, disrupting passing lanes, and committing three fouls in about 14 seconds.
Where they are best
They generate a ton of second-chance opportunities of the own, and they turn you over. They are almost too selective from the 3-point line, but they make a lot of the ones they take. And they do have a time bomb in Elston Turner.
A&M's Season Since Last Time
- Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
No. 18 Missouri (70-68)
No. 45 Ole Miss (69-67)
at No. 195 Auburn (65-56)
vs. No. 195 Auburn (71-62)
No. 214 South Carolina (74-56)
at No. 45 Ole Miss (73-82)
No. 62 Tennessee (85-93, 4OT)
at No. 74 Arkansas (62-73)
at No. 92 Vanderbilt (56-63)
at No. 93 Georgia (46-52)
No. 95 LSU (57-68)
Say this much: A&M tends to keep it close. Since a 21-point loss to Florida on January 17, 13 of A&M's last 16 games have been decided by single digits. Granted, they're 2-5 in these games away from home, but "Keep things close and lean on your scorer late" is how you pull a tourney upset. Hopefully Mizzou can build some space early, pull down defensive rebounds, and force A&M into a more desperate role than it would prefer.
A&M Player Stats Since Last Time
|Elston Turner (6'5, 212, Sr.)||20.9||0.54||38.7 MPG, 22.4 PPG (52% 2PT, 35% 3PT, 88% FT), 2.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 TOPG|
|Fabyon Harris (5'11, 172, Jr.)||13.4||0.39||34.3 MPG, 13.7 PPG (47% 2PT, 48% 3PT, 76% FT), 2.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 TOPG|
|Kourtney Roberson (6'9, 234, So.)||11.7||0.44||26.7 MPG, 7.8 PPG (72% 2PT, 50% FT), 6.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.7 TOPG|
|Ray Turner (6'9, 230, Sr.)||7.9||0.32||24.7 MPG, 8.1 PPG (46% 2PT, 61% FT), 6.6 RPG, 1.6 TOPG, 3.4 PFPG|
|Alex Caruso (6'5, 176, Fr.)||7.0||0.25||27.6 MPG, 6.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 2.6 TOPG, 3.6 PFPG|
|J'Mychal Reese (6'1, 173, Fr.)||2.4||0.11||22.5 MPG, 5.2 PPG (30% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 83% FT), 1.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.6 TOPG|
|Jordan Green (6'5, 183, So.)||2.1||0.21||10.1 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG|
|Jarod Jahns (6'6, 202, Sr.)||1.6||0.09||17.5 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.8 PFPG|
|Andrew Young (6'8, 241, Jr.)||0.8||0.06||13.5 MPG, 1.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG|
* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
- Highest Usage%: E. Turner (30%), Harris (22%), R. Turner (22%)
- Highest Floor%: Roberson (50%), Turner (42%), Harris (41%)
- Highest %Pass: Caruso (69%), Jahns (53%), Reese (50%)
- Highest %Shoot: R. Turner (59%), E. Turner (49%), Young (44%)
- Highest %Fouled: R. Turner (23%), Green (19%), Jahns (16%)
- Highest %T/O: Green (17%), R. Turner (14%), Roberson (11%)
- I'm going to miss Ray Turner. He is a fascinating "true outcomes" type of player; when the ball goes into his hands, he's either shooting, drawing a foul, or turning it over. He's an aggressive guy who gets too aggressive quite frequently, but he's entertaining. And this is probably my last opportunity to link to this.
Keys to the Game
- Second chances. Both of these teams rank much better on the offensive glass than on the defensive glass. A&M doesn't shoot well enough to survive without second-chance opportunities, and Mizzou's biggest advantage often comes when Laurence Bowers, Alex Oriakhi and company are flying in on a shot from a Mizzou guard. If one team can derive an advantage on the defensive glass, it will go a long way.
- The supporting cast. When A&M beat Missouri, Elston Turner didn't really have that great a game. He was fine, mind you -- 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting, four assists, three turnovers -- but he wasn't dominant. But J'Mychal Reese scored eight points, Alex Caruso dished six assists to just one turnover, and Ray Turner was able to play 28 minutes (and score 12 points) without fouling out. If you whittle A&M's options down to Elston Turner and offensive rebounds, you can eventually shut the Aggies down. So, uh, do that.
- Flipadelphia. This will be a key for every game left on the schedule. Missouri is going to go as far in the postseason as Phil Pressey will take it. He is this team's engine. With Good Flip, Mizzou can make a Final Four. With Bad Flip, Mizzou could lose to A&M, then lose in the Round of 64 next week. If he is playing under control on offense and isn't a total liability on defense, Mizzou is a really, really dangerous team. He had four assists and seven turnovers and shot 4-for-11 from the field in Mizzou's loss to A&M. Do better than that, and Missouri probably wins tonight.
Pomeroy says Mizzou 71, A&M 61. That sounds about right to me, though I'll say it's a little more high-scoring. We'll say Mizzou wins, 77-66, and gets ready to trade haymakers with Ole Miss tomorrow night.