The good news, as it were, is that there's not much of a pattern here. Obviously Mizzou's performance against a zone defense has been maddening at times, but that wasn't the No. 1 reason why the Tigers lost last night. Georgia rebounded at a level far above normal against Missouri last week. Auburn got above-their-head contributions from a couple of reserves, which kept AU close to the end. And Vanderbilt obviously shot absurdly well from long range. Mizzou rebounded well against Auburn and Vandy, and neither Georgia nor Auburn shot well from 3-point range.
That there's no pattern here means there's no single factor, no single reason for Missouri's sudden downfall in 2014. That technically means things could turn around at any moment.
The bad news: A lot of different things have gone wrong for Missouri lately. And the schedule's about to get much, much more difficult.
Vanderbilt 78, Missouri 75
|Pace (No. of Possessions)||67.2|
|Points Per Possession (PPP)||1.12||1.16|
|Points Per Shot (PPS)||1.17||1.32|
|True Shooting %||50.9%||55.0%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||14.1||13.6|
- I led off the Auburn Study Hall piece with "This is a really confusing team right now. Every time it shores up a weakness, it loses a strength." Well, even after yesterday, Missouri still ranks 21st in the country in 3PT% Allowed. Opponents are making 29 percent for the year; Mizzou's size and rotation has been much better this year. And last night, Vandy went 8-for-17 in the first half. Kyle Fuller and Dai-Jon Parker went 5-for-9. Now, it evened out in the second half -- Vandy went just 4-for-15 -- but the damage was done.
- Of course, in the "old problems are still problems" department, the ball handling still stunk. Don't see any way that one's getting fixed.
- As we saw with Georgia, if you let an opponent get hot for a while, it can beat you even if it stops playing so far above its head. Vandy scored a double-knockdown in the first round and milked that advantage for everything it was worth.
First 4 minutes: Vandy 17, Mizzou 5
Last 36 minutes: Mizzou 70, Vandy 61
Mizzou had been much better this year when it came to avoiding brutal starts on the road. But in the last 3-4 games, we've seen a return of basically every bad habit the Tigers have ever had. Good times!
Mizzou Player Stats
(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)
|Jabari Brown||22.7||0.63||36 Min, 22 Pts (7-13 FG, 4-7 3PT, 4-4 FT), 6 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 2 PF|
|Earnest Ross||13.6||0.37||37 Min, 11 Pts (4-13 FG, 0-7 3PT, 3-4 FT), 9 Reb (3 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF|
|Jordan Clarkson||12.9||0.38||34 Min, 18 Pts (7-18 FG, 0-4 3PT, 4-4 FT), 7 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF|
|Wes Clark||11.4||0.41||28 Min, 7 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 PF|
|Johnathan Williams III||11.2||0.43||26 Min, 9 Pts (3-8 FG, 3-3 FT), 6 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 3 Blk, 2 TO, 2 PF|
|Tony Criswell||3.4||0.34||10 Min, 5 Pts (1-3 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 1 Reb, 3 PF|
|Keanau Post||0.0||0.00||5 Min, 1 Pts (1-2 FT), 2 Reb, 3 PF|
|Torren Jones||-1.7||-0.34||5 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF|
|Ryan Rosburg||-2.2||-0.12||19 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb (3 Off), 2 TO, 4 PF|
|Johnathan Williams III||21%||35%||2.1||32%||44%||13%||11%|
- Fix one problem, find another one: Mizzou got offensive contributions from about 5.5 players yesterday. The Brown-Ross-Clarkson trifecta combined for 49.2 Adj GS points, which is solid, and the main freshmen (Clark, JW3) tossed in another 22.6. These are good things. But the four other big men combined for -0.5, and the defense stunk.
Three Keys Revisited
Vandy will test your big-man depth while trying to avoid getting crippled by its lack of depth on the wing. In theory, this bodes well for Missouri, which has a host of similar options on the inside (Ryan Rosburg, Torren Jones, Keanau Post, and maybe Tony Criswell) and a set of guards that can draw contact really well. But as always, it will depend on how and when the whistles are blown. Officiating always matters, but it seems to matter double this year, especially considering the way some refs seem to be reverting to how they used to call games before this year (and others aren't).
In the first 39 minutes, Mizzou attempted 19 free throws to Vandy's 17, so even despite Mizzou's predictable foul trouble underneath (Post, Jones, Criswell, and Rosburg: 13 fouls in 39 minutes), this more or less worked out okay for Mizzou, especially considering the Tigers made 19 of 22 free throws.
Vandy's 3-point shooting got better when McClellan (6-for-33 from 3-point range) was kicked off the team, and the Commodores do have a couple of scary options in Rod Odom (44%) and Dai-Jon Parker (47%). If Mizzou rebounds as it should (not a given), Vandy will probably need to outgun the Tigers from long range. If Mizzou can match Vandy's 3-point shooting and rebound better, that doesn't leave the Commodores many options for getting ahead.
Yeah, uh, this was a bit of an issue, huh?
3-point shooting: Vandy 12-for-32 (38%), Mizzou 6-for-23 (26%).
As mentioned above, Vandy couldn't miss in the first half, but that evened out in the second. The fact that only Jabari Brown could make 3s for Mizzou was an equally awful issue; Brown went 4-for-7, and the Clarkson/Ross/Clark trio went 1-for-15 (and the one make came with two seconds left, when the game was all but over). That's ridiculously awful. Yes, Mizzou took too many 3s against the zone defense, but ... even then, you'd expect those three to go at least, say, 3-for-15. Yuck. But yeah, this was quite easily the main key to Vandy's win.
Why yes, I do basically have the same three keys for every game. Can you blame me? But yeah, Vandy doesn't rebound well for its size, and aside from a couple of games, Missouri has been awesome on the glass. If that story holds, the Tigers are in pretty good shape.
Expected Rebounds: Mizzou +4.5.
Rod Odom did grab three offensive rebounds for Vandy, but this just wasn't much of an issue. The issue was that Vandy didn't miss enough shots for Mizzou to rebound.
So now we batten down the hatches. Push all expectations, hopes, etc., off the table until Mizzou gives you reason to think about them again. Opponents are playing above their heads, sure, but Missouri most certainly is not, and this is the worst four-game stretch we've seen in the Haith era. If or when the Tigers start playing good ball again, we can assess the damage. Until then, we're just looking to stop the damage.
Again, the fact that there's been almost no pattern to Mizzou's poor play gives me hope that a pretty quick bounce back is conceivable. But as we've mentioned before, the schedule is an obstacle. If Mizzou starts playing well again, the Tigers could still lose at Arkansas and Florida and at home to Kentucky and could still be looking at about a 4-6 conference record heading into the home stretch. Mizzou really needed a 3-1 or 4-0 start with the schedule at hand, and now the best the Tigers can do is 2-2. And that's only if they beat an Alabama team that is better than Georgia, Auburn, or Vanderbilt.
Again, though, looking into the future is pointless for now. In just three games, Mizzou has fallen from 41st to 65th in the Pomeroy rankings -- something I didn't actually know was possible this late in the season -- and until the fall ends, we cannot talk about the recovery.
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.