Missouri 69, Long Beach State 59: Study Hall

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Brown-Ross-Williams. Rosburg ALMOST sneaked in there.

It's pretty clear at this point that Mizzou's third gear isn't amazing. Against lesser opponents, in a less-than-intense Mizzou Arena, the Tigers have looked somewhere between unimpressive and decent.

November 8: Mizzou 89, SELA 53
November 12: Mizzou 72, SIU 59
November 23: Mizzou 72, Gardner Webb 63
November 25: Mizzou 78, IUPUI 64
December 15: Mizzou 66, WMU 60
January 4: Mizzou 69, LBSU 59

At the same time, in the games that mattered, we've found that Mizzou's fourth or fifth gear is pretty solid.

December 5: Mizzou 80, West Virginia 71 (and it wasn't that close)
December 7: Mizzou 80, UCLA 71
December 21: Illinois 65, Mizzou 64
December 28: Mizzou 68, NC State 64

According to Pomeroy's rankings, Mizzou has faced four top-100 teams and won three of four with an average scoring margin of +6.3. But while they've gone 8-0 against teams ranked worse than 150th, if you take out SELA, the average scoring margin has been just +10.8. Even including SELA, it's only +14.4.

The best teams have a strong third gear that tends to put bad opponents away by the early minutes of the second half. Mizzou doesn't necessarily have that. We know that fourth and fifth gear are pretty good, we know that, with a current RPI of 20th, the Tigers are in good shape for the NCAA Tournament as long as they go about 11-7 in conference play, and we know that fourth and fifth gear are probably good enough to get the Tigers to 11-7 or 12-6. What we don't know is how often we'll see the sloppy defense and uninspired rebounding that we saw on Saturday, and how much it will cost the Tigers if Saturday's performance is, if not common, not entirely uncommon.

Missouri 69, LBSU 59

Mizzou
LBSU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 57.7
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.20 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.50 1.16
2-PT FG% 66.7% 40.0%
3-PT FG% 25.0% 26.9%
FT% 68.0% 72.0%
True Shooting % 60.5% 47.6%
Mizzou LBSU
Assists 8 12
Steals 2 6
Turnovers 11 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.91 1.80
Mizzou LBSU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9.0 12.9
Offensive Rebounds 12 13
Difference +3.0 +0.1
  • The positive spin: Mizzou's offense was pretty damn strong against an LBSU team that has improved in recent weeks and should continue to do so. The Tigers are currently 36th in Pomeroy's offensive efficiency ratings despite ball-handling issues, and if Johnathan Williams III and Ryan Rosburg continue to contribute 14 points and five offensive rebounds, as they did on Saturday, the offense will certainly be good enough. Meanwhile, defense and rebounding have been mostly strong this year, even if they each showed some glitches on Saturday, so one iffy game in this regard isn't the end of the world.
  • The less positive spin: Ball-handling isn't getting better, and until closing things out late, rebounding wasn't even saving the Tigers because LBSU (175th in offensive rebounding, 300th in defensive rebounding) was breaking even with them on the glass. Mizzou shot as well as it's probably capable of shooting and was still only up four points on LBSU in the closing minutes. And while LBSU has improved from 226th in Pomeroy's rankings a month ago to 183rd today, the 49ers are still only 183rd and was within four points in the closing minutes.
  • Take your pick.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jabari Brown 22.6 0.58 39 Min, 22 Pts (8-12 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4-5 FT), 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO
Earnest Ross 16.5 0.47 35 Min, 16 Pts (5-10 FG, 1-4 3PT, 5-6 FT), 7 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO, 2 PF
Johnathan Williams III 9.9 0.37 27 Min, 8 Pts (2-2 FG, 4-6 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 4 PF
Ryan Rosburg 9.0 0.27 33 Min, 6 Pts (3-4 FG, 0-1 FT), 11 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF
Jordan Clarkson 7.5 0.22 34 Min, 11 Pts (5-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 1-3 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 3 PF
Tony Criswell 4.8 0.30 16 Min, 3 Pts (3-4 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF
Danny Feldmann 0.4 0.14 3 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 1 Reb, 1 Ast
Torren Jones -0.6 -0.57 1 Min, 1 PF
Wes Clark -3.3 -0.27 12 Min, 3 Pts (1-5 FG, 1-4 3PT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 TO, 3 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Brown 24% 54% 2.2 24% 49% 18% 8%
Ross 28% 40% 3.1 38% 32% 17% 13%
JW3 10% 61% 0.9 0% 27% 73% 0%
Rosburg 11% 47% 1.4 46% 31% 7% 16%
Clarkson 23% 41% 2.7 45% 45% 10% 0%
Criswell 10% 42% 2.3 57% 0% 34% 10%
Feldmann 20% 27% 8.1 85% 15% 0% 0%
Clark 34% 13% 2.0 0% 71% 0% 29%
  • Wes Clark has produced a negative Adj. GS score for three games in a row. As I've said, I like his body language, his quickness, and his defensive potential, but it's all potential right now. The production has been minimal. He had two turnovers and two fouls in, what, his first two minutes of action on Saturday?
  • Mizzou's other primary freshman in the rotation, JW3, has clearly shown his worth this season, but he had one of those "freshman step backwards" games on Saturday. One has to love that he went 4-for-6 from the free throw line -- it put him over 50% for the year -- but he was a non-factor on the glass and committed more fouls than we're used to seeing. That will happen at times.
  • More of that, please, Ryan Rosburg. Obviously he's not going to be a 15 & 10 guy or anything, but he scored six points on four field goal attempts and grabbed four offensive rebounds. To the extent that JW3 struggled on the glass, part of that could be attributed to the fact that Rosburg grabbed the boards that usually bounce toward Williams.
  • I just cannot say enough about how Jabari Brown has turned into a complete player this year. My goodness. Granted, he was basically scoring-only against LBSU, but his defense is still good, and he's looking to make that dagger shot. Mizzou missed that dearly last year, and he turned into what Missouri needed in the offseason.
  • Nobody contributes a stronger combination of good and bad to the box score than Earnest Ross. He scored 16 points on six field goal attempts ... and turned the ball over four times (and it felt more like about seven).
  • Hello there, Danny Feldmann!

Summary

I'm not going to read too much into this game; it fit the "Mizzou struggles to put away iffy teams but eventually puts them away" meme, and Missouri really did look strong in the final minutes when it had to. I think last year's team was better for the first 30 minutes, and this one's a lot better in the final 10; I have hope in this team, simply because we haven't actually seen more than about 25-30 good minutes from them in any one game, yet the Tigers are 12-1, 20th in RPI, and 41st in Pomeroy. If the team's best days are still ahead, they could be some very good days.

Still, you'd kind of like to enter conference play having already eschewed "work in progress" status, and Mizzou is definitely still a work in progress. We'll see what that means moving forward. Conference play begins against Georgia on Wednesday.

---

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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