Kentucky 84, Missouri 79: Study Hall

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou played 2-on-5 and almost pulled off an incredible comeback.

Your Trifecta: Brown-Clarkson-[huge gap]-Clark.

Well, we'll always have this...

The tragedy here (sports tragedy, of course, not real tragedy) is that the Marcus Denmon Game ... the Thomas Gardner Game ... the Clarence Gilbert "Boschee In His Shirt" Game ... they were all wins. The Jabari Brown Game, the most absurdly dominant, efficient game we've seen in quite a while ... was a loss because Missouri almost literally played 2-on-5. Jabari Brown is playing at an incredible level, but Mizzou just doesn't have enough pieces to beat a team like Kentucky when the Wildcats are playing reasonably well. And that's a shame because ... wow, Jabari.

(Meanwhile ... sorry, Jordan Clarkson. You just scored the most overshadowed 28 points ever.)

Kentucky 84, Missouri 79

Mizzou
Kentucky
Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.20 1.28
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.55 1.50
2-PT FG% 61.8% 52.4%
3-PT FG% 35.3% 57.1%
FT% 65.5% 66.7%
True Shooting % 62.0% 63.1%
Mizzou Kentucky
Assists 9 11
Steals 2 5
Turnovers 8 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.38 2.29
Mizzou Kentucky
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.1 10.7
Offensive Rebounds 5 8
Difference -5.1 -2.7
  • Kentucky won the True Shooting battle, nearly doubled Mizzou up in BCI, and outrebounded Mizzou by about +2.4 in terms of expected rebounds. How exactly was this a three-point game in the final 30 seconds? I mean, I know how -- Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown -- but it doesn't really add up. Power to Mizzou for gutting things out and making this a tight game against solid odds, but ... in the end, a Kentucky team that has stunk on the road controlled the game in almost every possible way.

  • Mizzou averaged 1.20 points per possession and lost. Damn.

  • While Brown and Clarkson were huge in Mizzou's charge back from 16 down, rebounding helped significantly. Mizzou had zero offensive rebounds at halftime, and Kentucky had four on just 13 missed FGs. With Kentucky getting into a bit of foul trouble, Mizzou had five offensive boards (on 14 misses) in the second half. UK still did better for the game as a whole, but Mizzou stepped up; and by "Mizzou," I mostly just mean Ryan Rosburg, who at least had two points and three rebounds in the second half. He had zero and zero (in 17 minutes) at the break.

  • Round-by-round scoring:

    Round 1: UK 10-9
    Round 2: 10-10
    Round 3: MU 10-9
    Round 4: UK 10-9
    Round 5: UK 10-9
    Round 6: UK 10-8
    Round 7: MU 10-9
    Round 8: MU 10-8
    Round 9: UK 10-9
    Round 10: 10-10

    So basically, Kentucky won five of eight rounds, and both teams scored a second-half knockdown.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jabari Brown 33.4 0.88 38 Min, 33 Pts (10-17 FG, 3-6 3PT, 10-12 FT), 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 2 TO, 2 PF
Jordan Clarkson 29.6 0.80 37 Min, 28 Pts (11-17 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4-5 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 1 PF
Wes Clark 11.1 0.50 22 Min, 7 Pts (3-4 FG, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF
Earnest Ross 7.9 0.31 25 Min, 8 Pts (2-7 FG, 1-6 3PT, 3-4 FT), 6 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Johnathan Williams III 0.8 0.04 20 Min, 1 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Blk, 4 PF
Ryan Rosburg 0.6 0.02 30 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG, 0-2 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 1 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF
Torren Jones 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Keanau Post -1.3 -0.18 7 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FT), 1 Reb, 1 PF
Shane Rector -1.4 -0.70 2 Min, 1 TO
Tony Criswell -2.0 -0.11 18 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 4 Reb, 3 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Brown 36% 52% 3.2 29% 42% 24% 5%
Clarkson 32% 57% 3.3 43% 42% 10% 5%
Clark 15% 61% 3.4 73% 17% 7% 4%
Ross 22% 32% 2.1 34% 41% 19% 6%
Williams 8% 15% 0.5 0% 56% 44% 0%
Rosburg 7% 24% 0.5 0% 44% 35% 22%
Post 7% 0% 0.7 0% 0% 100% 0%
Rector 28% 0% 1.5 0% 0% 0% 100%%
Criswell 6% 0% 0.3 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • Big 3: 70.9
    Others: 8.1

    And that was with 11.1 from Wes Clark. The other six "Others" combined for -3.0. Combining for +3.0 (0.5 per player) might have scored Mizzou the win.

  • Clark, by the way, has looked pretty good for two straight games. One more, and it's a streak!

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview:

The Glass

If you hold Kentucky to one-and-dones, they can go through some serious scoring droughts. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to do that. We've seen Missouri's rebounding come and go this year, and while it was absolutely incredible in Fayetteville, Mizzou has fallen out of the top 100 in defensive rebounding. We absolutely have to see Good Mizzou on the glass, or Kentucky will eventually wear the Tigers out with second chances.

Expected Rebounds: Kentucky +2.4

Again, it improved in the second half, but Mizzou was honestly rather lucky to be down just 10 at half with zero offensive rebounds in the first half.

The 3-Ball

Kentucky doesn't shoot it well, and Missouri has the hottest 3-point shooter in the country. Jabari Brown has made over 50% of his 3s in five straight games (he's 20-for-29, 69%, in that span -- he had only two games like that last year), and he's 34-for-64 (53%) since the UCLA game. As Missouri's identity has changed from "Drive, drive, drive," to "Well hell, refs aren't calling fouls like they did in December," Brown's emergence as not only a deadly shooter, but the deadliest shooter, has been key. Mizzou will need to make its 3s to have a chance here -- there's not going to be much available near the rim -- but Brown and Earnest Ross can do that. Maybe. (Meanwhile, if Kentucky gets hot from 3-point range, that's free points for them ... they don't count on it, and if it comes, they're almost unstoppable.)

3-pointers: UK 8-for-14 (57%), MU 6-for-17 (35%).

Kentucky came into the game shooting 32% on 3-pointers. For 14 attempts, that means they should have made about 4.5. They made 3.5 more than that ... and got basically 10.5 "free points" in a five-point win. James Young's smooth stroke suggests he should have been making more than 34% of his 3s this season; well, he's up to 35% after going 4-for-7 today. But the rest of the team still went 3-for-7, too. Meanwhile, Brown and Clarkson went 5-for-10 ... and everybody else went 1-for-7. I think we found the biggest key in the game.

The Role Players

On Tuesday, we saw how good Missouri can be when it's getting production from players outside of its Big 3.5 (Brown, Ross, Jordan Clarkson, and sometimes Johnathan Williams III). Ryan Rosburg hit the offensive glass hard in the first half, Wes Clark made a couple of jumpers, Shane Rector played six neutral (not even great, just neutral) minutes, and Missouri outlasted a deep Arkansas team despite some terrible play from Tony Criswell and Torren Jones. Mizzou just needs something from its role players to be a pretty good team, and against Kentucky, the focus will be on the bigs. Can Rosburg block out effectively? Can Williams finish near the basket? Can Criswell ... be Good Leo Lyons and not Bad Leo Lyons for the first time in a while?

Kentucky got almost nothing from its bench. Mizzou really got almost nothing from not only its bench, but also three of five starters.

Summary

The Kentucky that went up 16 points after 25 minutes would have been up on anybody in the country at that point. The Wildcats are, as mentioned, unstoppable when they're making 3s. Mizzou deserves serious credit for saddling up and rebounding in the second half, both literally (as in, on the glass) and figuratively (as in, cutting a 16-point deficit to three). But in the end, the better team won.

At the beginning of the week, we'd have been encouraged a bit by going 1-1 this week, especially if we'd known that Good Kentucky was going to make the trip to Mizzou Arena. So it's hard to complain too much. But damn does it suck that Mizzou got that effort from Jabari Brown and didn't win. But that's in the past now; the focus changes to going 1-1 again this coming week, with trips to Florida and Ole Miss. Take your licks in Gainesville, win in Oxford, and you're in good shape for the home stretch. But if Mizzou goes 0-2, there is a ton of work to do down the stretch to get Mizzou's deserving Big 3 into the NCAAs.

---

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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