South Carolina at Missouri preview: Bring your lunch pail, win the game

LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.

This is a Frank Martin team. The Gamecocks will play with their hair on fire, grab a ton of rebounds, and make a ton of mistakes. If you bring your lunch pail on the glass and don't give them too many open looks from 3-point range (which they're pretty good at this year), you'll win. So ... uh, do that.

South Carolina Gamecocks (7-11)


SC
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
67.3
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.05 1.06
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.30 1.39
2-PT FG% 45% 50%
3-PT FG% 37% 31%
FT% 69% 69%
True Shooting % 53.3% 54.9%




SC Opp.
Assists/Gm 12.9 12.7
Steals/Gm 6.4 7.5
Turnovers/Gm 14.7 14.2
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.31 1.42




SC Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 11.1 10.2
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.0 11.1
Difference +2.9 +0.9

Ken Pomeroy Stats

SC Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

SC Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 149 92 MU
Effective FG% 235 24 MU big
Turnover % 315 289 MU
Off. Reb. % 20 95 SC
FTA/FGA 38 86 SC
MU Offense vs SC Defense Ranks

MU Offense SC Defense Advantage
Efficiency 47 160 MU big
Effective FG% 88 141 MU
Turnover % 177 58 SC big
Off. Reb. % 43 251 MU big
FTA/FGA 29 349 MU big

Where the Gamecocks are weakest

South Carolina is amazingly inexperienced. Frank Martin has built this roster from scratch; of the 10 players currently averaging more than 10 minutes per game, five are freshmen and three are sophomores. SC ranks 341st in Pomeroy's Experience measure ... and there are only 351 teams.

Once you combine the phrases "Frank Martin team" with "young and dumb," you pretty much figure this team out. On offense, SC turns the ball over like crazy (315th in TO%, 324th in Steal%) and misses a ton of shots (298th in 2PT%, 305th in Block%). On defense, the Gamecocks foul like mad (349th in FTA/FGA ... again, out of 351 teams) and are intense but glitchy. They rank 298th in Assists allowed per FG Made, 251st in Defensive Rebound%, and 223rd in 2PT%. Again, they play with their hair on fire, but that makes them over-pursue a lot on that side of the ball.

Where they are best

Well, one positive of having minimal go-to talent and experiencing all sorts of foul trouble is that you go pretty deep into your bench -- SC is 53rd in Bench Minutes. (No, this really isn't a good thing, but go with me.)

As one would expect, SC hits the offensive glass like crazy (20th in OR%) and gets to the line a ton (38th in FTA/FGA). The Gamecocks really only have a couple of good free throw shooters -- Tyrone Johnson and Brenton Williams have made 117 of 140 free throws (84%), and everybody else has made 213 of 414 (51%) -- but they can still get you into foul trouble. And they shoot well from 3-point range (76th in 3PT%), even if they don't actually take many (323rd in 3PA/FGA).

On defense, they stick to you on the perimeter (52nd in 3PT%, 58th in TO%), but ... that's about it. If they aren't forcing a turnover, they're probably giving you a good look, or a foul, or both.

SC's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    vs. No. 58 Saint Mary's (78-71)
    vs. No. 130 Akron (69-59)
    No. 130 Akron (78-45)
    No. 249 Marshall (92-65)
    No. 262 FIU (84-72)
    No. 332 SC State (82-75)
    No. 338 Longwood (82-44)
  • Losses
    at No. 11 Oklahoma State (52-79)
    at No. 17 Florida (58-74)
    at No. 40 Clemson (57-71)
    at No. 41 Baylor (64-66)
    No. 60 LSU (68-71)
    vs. No. 62 Boise State (54-80)
    No. 73 Ole Miss (74-75)
    No. 77 Manhattan (68-86)
    at No. 114 Texas A&M (67-75)
    at No. 117 Georgia (76-97)
    No. 211 SC-Upstate (68-74)

Average Score, SC vs. Top 100: Opponent 75, SC 64 (-11)
Average Score, SC vs. 101-200: SC 73, Opponent 69 (+4)
Average Score, SC vs. 200+: SC 82, Opponent 66 (+16)

Considering the youth, and considering where this team was last year (210th in Pomeroy's rankings), I think Martin has actually done a pretty good job with this team. It's still bipolar -- in a five-day span in late-December, SC lost to SC-Upstate, beat St. Mary's, and got its doors blown off by Boise State -- but you can see the Martin fingerprint taking shape. With another couple of recruiting classes, he might have this program in decent shape. Maybe not good shape, but "decent" is better than SC has been in a while, yes?

SC Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Sindarius Thornwell (6'5, 206, Fr.) 11.6 0.43 26.7 MPG, 12.8 PPG (42% 2PT, 41% 3PT, 69% FT), 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.4 TOPG, 2.9 PFPG
Tyrone Johnson (6'3, 194, Jr.) 11.5 0.43 26.9 MPG, 11.2 PPG (39% 2PT, 42% 3PT, 75% FT), 3.4 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.9 TOPG
Brenton Williams (5'11, 172, Sr.) 10.9 0.44 25.1 MPG, 11.5 PPG (41% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 98% FT), 1.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 TOPG
Michael Carrera (6'5, 214, So.) 7.3 0.42 17.7 MPG, 6.4 PPG (47% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 67% FT), 4.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.4 TOPG, 2.4 PFPG
Duane Notice (6'2, 221, Fr.) 6.8 0.32 20.9 MPG, 6.9 PPG (52% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.9 APG, 2.3 RPG, 2.2 TOPG
Mindaugas Kacinas (6'7, 210, So.) 5.4 0.24 20.6 MPG, 5.6 PPG (46% 2PT, 19% FT), 4.3 RPG, 3.7 PFPG
Demetrius Henry (6'9, 215, Fr.) 4.8 0.23 22.5 MPG, 5.3 PPG (55% 2PT, 61% FT), 4.8 RPG, 1.9 TOPG
Laimonas Chatkevicius (6'11, 250, So.) 4.8 0.45 10.8 MPG, 4.1 PPG (64% 2PT, 38% FT), 3.4 RPG, 2.1 TOPG
Jaylen Shaw (6'0, 182, Fr.) 4.2 0.39 11.0 MPG, 4.0 PPG (43% 2PT, 48% 3PT, 87% FT), 1.4 APG
Desmond Ringer (6'9, 255, Fr.) 1.7 0.13 12.8 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.6 PFPG

* 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%: Thornwell (26%), Johnson (23%), Williams (22%)
  • Highest Floor%: Chatkevicius (44%), Shaw (44%), Johnson (40%)
  • Highest %Pass: Shaw (66%), Notice (64%), Johnson (58%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Chatkevicius (58%), Kacinas (55%), Carrera (43%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Ringer (23%), Henry (22%), Carrera (19%)
  • Highest %T/O: Henry (20%), Chatkevicius (15%), Carrera (11%)
  • Highest OR%: Carrera (12%), Kacinas (11%), Henry (11%)
  • Highest DR%: Chatkevicius (26%), Carrera (17%), Henry (15%)

  • I felt mean, but I had to highlight a couple of stats in Kacinas' stat line. He's aggressive and can hit the glass well, but he is FIVE FOR TWENTY-SIX from the free throw line, and he has committed 66 fouls in 370 minutes ... basically one every six minutes.

Keys to the Game

  1. The glass. If KSU isn't grabbing second-chance opportunities, it isn't winning. Period. Mizzou's rebounding rankings have begun to tank in recent weeks, and that's a bad sign, but if Missouri can match SC's second chances with some of its own, the Tigers should be just fine.

  2. The 3-ball. South Carolina only has two players who average more than two 3-point attempts per game -- Brenton Williams (5.1 attempts per game) and Sindarius Thornwell (2.6) -- and they only average 14 per game as a whole, but they're pretty good at them. And they've had reasonable success in preventing opponents from either shooting or making them. This is another area where Mizzou just needs to match.

  3. The whistles. South Carolina games average 46 fouls. Free throws and foul trouble will play a massive role in this game because Frank Martin.

Prediction

South Carolina is obviously a very beatable team. Pomeroy gives Mizzou an 86% chance of winning this game -- only the Mississippi State game has a higher likelihood at this point. But you have to work. Just ask last year's Missouri's team, which didn't work at home (a narrow 71-65 win) and very much did on the road (90-68). If Missouri is effective at all in the rebounding department (and I'm less confident in this than I was a couple of weeks ago), and if the Tigers simply execute, they'll win. Pomeroy projects 79-68, but as is customary, I think that if it's a double-digit game, it ends up creeping closer to 20 points. Do work, guys.

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