Missouri 70, Auburn 68: Study Hall

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou absolutely dominated on the glass, got a surprisingly strong contribution from Torren Jones, got some wonderful free throw shooting in crunch time ... and needed luck to win at Auburn. What?

Your Trifecta: Clarkson-Ross-Brown.

This is a really confusing team right now. Every time it shores up a weakness, it loses a strength.

Missouri 70, Auburn 68

Mizzou
Auburn
Pace (No. of Possessions) 64.4
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.09 1.06
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.35 1.28
2-PT FG% 32.4% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 34.8%
FT% 75.6% 53.8%
True Shooting % 50.0% 52.8%
Mizzou Auburn
Assists 9 9
Steals 4 7
Turnovers 15 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.87 1.60
Mizzou Auburn
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14.2 12.5
Offensive Rebounds 20 9
Difference +5.8 -3.5
  • Rebounding? Incredible. Free throw shooting? Great. 3-point shooting? Good enough. Even with shoddy ball-handling, one would have thought this would be enough to get by a relatively weak Auburn team. But Mizzou couldn't make a 2-pointer to save its life, and it almost cost the Tigers dearly.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jordan Clarkson 19.9 0.52 38 Min, 20 Pts (6-11 FG, 0-2 3PT, 8-11 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 2 PF
Earnest Ross 16.8 0.56 30 Min, 16 Pts (3-9 FG, 2-4 3PT, 8-8 FT), 7 Reb (2 Off), 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 3 PF
Jabari Brown 10.8 0.39 28 Min, 15 Pts (4-13 FG, 3-8 3PT, 4-4 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF
Johnathan Williams III 9.3 0.32 29 Min, 8 Pts (2-5 FG, 4-6 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 3 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF
Torren Jones 7.7 0.59 13 Min, 4 Pts (0-4 FG, 4-4 FT), 11 Reb (7 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF
Shane Rector 3.4 0.85 4 Min, 2 Pts (2-2 FT), 1 Reb
Ryan Rosburg 1.5 0.13 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG, 0-1 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF
Keanau Post 0.4 0.03 14 Min, 3 Pts (1-3 FG, 1-5 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 TO, 1 PF
Wes Clark -3.4 -0.10 33 Min, 0 Pts (0-6 FG, 0-1 3PT), 2 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Clarkson 22% 45% 2.2 22% 42% 28% 8%
Ross 24% 34% 1.8 0% 52% 31% 17%
Brown 28% 33% 3.3 40% 44% 9% 7%
JW3 14% 36% 1.1 0% 50% 41% 10%
Jones 32% 22% 3.7 38% 26% 17% 19%
Rector 10% 56% 1.1 0% 0% 100% 0%
Rosburg 10% 54% 4.1 81% 7% 5% 7%
Post 24% 18% 1.9 0% 36% 41% 24%
Clark 10% 14% 2.3 72% 24% 0% 4%
  • Jordan Clarkson was 2-for-5 for seven points in the first half, but right when Missouri needed someone to take over and keep up with the smoking hot K.T. Harrell, he got rolling. Thank goodness. But he's also looking less and less like a point guard by the game, as evidenced by both his passing numbers and the fact that Wes Clark played 33 minutes. Clarkson looked more comfortable, but again, that meant that Clark, still a net liability on offense, played 33 minutes. I'm not sure that's a net gain. Clark still does have a lot of potential on both sides of the court, and minutes now will help in the future, but it doesn't necessarily help Mizzou on the court.
  • Earnest Ross: 8-for-8 from the free throw line. I don't think the "Auburn reject" chant worked, though he did once again have six combined turnovers and fouls (and he went 1-for-5 on 2-pointers).
  • Hey, Jabari? Next time don't assume the buzzer's coming until it comes. That was almost really embarrassing.
  • Hell of a block by JW3 late in the game, and a good job going 2-for-4 from the free throw line. I wish he had more to offer offensively by this point in the season, and I don't love that he only had two defensive rebounds, but considering how huge Ross and others were on the glass in this one, I won't complain.
  • Hello, Torren Jones! I'm not sure I've ever seen a player bring so much to the table and take so much off at the same time. It was a different kind of Tony Criswell routine. Jones is obviously still raw as hell, but he gave Mizzou an incredible boost on the glass, especially on offense (so did Keanau Post, only without the made free throws), and that might earn him more minutes. And I'm really glad that the late turnover, when he stepped on the baseline after a huge defensive rebound (and was getting hacked, ahem), didn't cost the team. He deserved to have a happy outcome in this one.

Three keys revisited

From Friday's preview.

1. The whistles

Once again. We know by now that if Clarkson's drives are getting cut off and aren't resulting in either a decent shot or a foul, he doesn't necessarily shift to Plan B very well. He's reliant on getting to the line, but Denson is even more reliant on it. So this game could be determined in part by who's getting the calls and how Clarkson/Denson are reacting if they aren't getting calls.

The whistles benefited Missouri in the end, even if they also made the game nearly unwatchable. There were 51 fouls and 67 free throws, but at least Missouri had 41 of the free throws. With the way the Tigers were shooting from the field, this was a grave necessity, even if it was incredibly unpleasing aesthetically.

Side note: Two months into the season, and I still have no idea what a charge is. The refs don't either. Compare what Shane Rector drew as a block in the first half with what Jordan Clarkson did late in the game, getting called for a charge when the defender slid underneath him as he was jumping. That is a ridiculously difficult call to interpret regardless, but after all the talk about the offense getting the benefit of the doubt and wanting college basketball to feature more open offenses, in crunch time the refs seem to revert to what they know and call games how they used to. And in that case, we wasted two months watching excruciating slogs of basketball for nothing.

2. The glass

We saw exactly how important it was on Wednesday night. Even with Clarkson struggling on offense, Mizzou would have won had the Tigers not been trounced on the glass for the first 20-25 minutes. On average, Mizzou is a strong rebounding team, but "on average" clearly doesn't mean "every game," especially considering what Johnathan Williams III has (hasn't) done on the glass the last couple of games.

BIG win for Missouri here.

3. The 3-ball

Like Georgia, Auburn basically has one 3-point shooter (Harrell), but he's a pretty good one. Meanwhile, Auburn allows pretty open looks to all of your good shooters. If, say, Brown matches Harrell's 3-point output and someone else (Earnest Ross?) hits a few, Mizzou's in good shape. But if Harrell gets hot and Mizzou shoots 25% or something, Mizzou is in serious trouble.

The two teams made almost the same percentage, which is a bit of a wash, though Auburn got huge 3-pointers from unlikely sources like Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Alex Thompson in the final minutes. That was nerve-wracking, and it helped Auburn to play above its collective head a bit.

Summary

Auburn did play above its head at times, and Missouri did add some potential new assets if you look at the offensive rebounding that Jones and Post provided and the experience that Clark has begun to add. If the whole ever becomes greater than the sum of the parts, that's an impressive whole. Still...

...Missouri shot like crap. And Tony Criswell cannot be relied upon at all, evidently. And Missouri seemed to be completely and utterly baffled by a pretty straight-forward zone defense down the stretch. And in the end, the Tigers were lucky to beat an inferior team on the road. Auburn should indeed have gotten the ball back with about 0.8 seconds left following Jabari Brown's brain fart, and while the odds would have still been in Mizzou's favor in that scenario, it would have been very far from 100%.

For now, we just have to be satisfied with a win and hope that development occurs to offset the semi-drastic regression we've seen from this team in the new year. The last three games have been dreadfully unimpressive, but for better or worse, there are 16 more to go in the regular season.

---

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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