Missouri at Florida preview: Gators dominate on defense, give you no margin for error

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida has dominated at home of late, and Missouri will have to win the rebounding and 3-point battles to have any chance of pulling an upset in Gainesville.

LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.

Average score in Florida's four conference home games thus far: Florida 70.5, Opponent 46.3. Yeah.

Florida Gators (19-2, 8-0)


Florida Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
63.3
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.13 0.91
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.33 1.08
2-PT FG% 52% 41%
3-PT FG% 34% 32%
FT% 66% 68%
True Shooting % 55.4% 47.%




Florida Opp.
Assists/Gm 12.6 9.3
Steals/Gm 7.0 5.4
Turnovers/Gm 11.5 13.9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.71 1.06




Florida Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 10.2 11.6
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.4 10.6
Difference +1.8 -1.0

Ken Pomeroy Stats

UF Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UF Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 34 101 UF
Effective FG% 91 42 MU
Turnover % 124 303 UF big
Off. Reb. % 27 87 UF
FTA/FGA 72 87 push
MU Offense vs UF Defense Ranks

MU Offense UF Defense Advantage
Efficiency 27 7 push
Effective FG% 58 8 UF
Turnover % 177 30 UF big
Off. Reb. % 46 94 MU
FTA/FGA 23 27 push

Where the Gators are weakest

For an elite team (and it's safe to say Florida is that at this point), the Gators' offense is only good, not great. They're 34th overall in Pomeroy's offensive efficiency, but you can at least poke some holes in the O. They don't shoot free throws well at all (303rd in FT%), they're only average from 3-point range (165th), though that's primarily because their role players are terrible at it; their top two shooters, Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin, shoot a combined 42%. (Everybody else: 25%.) And they're also not much of a pass-to-set-up-open-shots team (196th in Assists Per FG Made). They drive, they get decent looks, they hit the glass, and they occasionally find Frazier or Wilbekin open from long range. Nothing fancy.

Defensively? Well ... they don't block shots (226th in Block%). That's ... something? (They also prevent you from taking shots you can actually make, so...)

Where they are best

This is an incredible defensive team. The D is why the Gators have won 13 games in a row (and have only suffered losses to good teams on the road). Despite no major shot-blocking presence, they rank sixth in 2PT% and eighth in overall Eff. FG%. They harass you and force turnovers (30th in TO%, 41st in Steal%), but they don't lose their positioning. If you can weather a long possession without panicking or turning the ball over, you might get a decent look from 3-point range (90th in 3PT%, 113th in 3PA/FGA), but this team gets after you.

On offense, meanwhile, again ... nothing fancy. They rebound well (27th in OR%), and they get good looks (57th in 2PT%, 47th in Block%).

Aside from 2-point defense, this team's major strength might simply be that it doesn't have major weaknesses (at least, outside of FT shooting). Florida ranks in the nation's top third in all offensive categories and in the top fourth of all defensive categories. The Gators are 102nd in Experience, 108th in Bench Minutes (which will improve now that star freshman Chris Walker is eligible), and 130th in Effective Height. They're obviously better at some things than others, but they're bad at almost nothing.

Florida's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 11 Kansas (67-61)
    No. 22 Tennessee (67-41)
    No. 27 Florida State (67-66)
    vs. No. 33 Memphis (77-75)
    at No. 57 Arkansas (84-82, OT)
    No. 67 Richmond (67-58)
    at No. 110 Alabama (68-62)
    No. 119 Middle Tennessee (79-59)
    No. 124 South Carolina (74-58)
    No. 134 Georgia (72-50)
    at No. 136 Auburn (68-61)
    No. 166 Texas A&M (69-36)
    vs. No. 167 Fresno State (66-49)
    No. 191 Southern (67-53)
    at No. 198 Mississippi State (62-51)
    No. 224 UALR (86-56)
    No. 265 North Florida (77-69)
    No. 288 Savannah State (76-34)
    at No. 301 Jacksonville (86-60)
  • Losses
    at No. 20 Wisconsin (53-59)
    at No. 29 UConn (64-65)

This was a good team in November (overed around eighth in Pomeroy's rankings), a solid team in December (fell 17th at the start of the new year), and a great team in January. The ridiculously dominant win over an increasingly hopeless Texas A&M squad on Saturday bumped the Gators from 11th back to sixth, and if they don't lose either at Tennessee or at Kentucky next week, they probably won't lose in conference play.

Florida Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Casey Prather (6'6, 212, Sr.) 15.8 0.56 28.2 MPG, 16.2 PPG (63% 2PT, 68% FT), 5.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 2.1 TOPG, 2.4 PFPG
Michael Frazier II (6'4, 199, So.) 11.9 0.41 29.1 MPG, 12.6 PPG (58% 2PT, 43% 3PT, 86% FT), 3.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.1 TOPG, 1.7 PFPG
Patric Young (6'9, 240, Sr.) 11.5 0.45 25.5 MPG, 10.6 PPG (55% 2PT, 55% FT), 6.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 1.2 TOPG, 2.8 PFPG
Scottie Wilbekin (6'2, 176, Sr.) 11.0 0.33 33.6 MPG, 11.9 PPG (39% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 71% FT), 3.6 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.7 TOPG
Dorian Finney-Smith (6'8, 212, So.) 9.8 0.37 26.1 MPG, 10.3 PPG (43% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 62% FT), 7.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.1 TOPG, 2.3 PFPG
Kasey Hill (6'1, 181, Fr.) 6.2 0.25 24.5 MPG, 6.4 PPG (48% 2PT, 18% 3PT, 65% FT), 3.2 APG, 1.9 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 TOPG, 2.2 PFPG
Will Yeguete (6'8, 230, Sr.) 5.8 0.24 23.9 MPG, 5.2 PPG (45% 2PT, 27% 3PT, 61% FT), 5.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 APG, 1.4 TOPG, 2.0 PFPG
Jacob Kurtz (6'6, 210, Jr.) 2.6 0.24 10.7 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG
DeVon Walker (6'6, 195, So.) 2.5 0.16 15.3 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG
Chris Walker (6'10, 220, Fr.) N/A N/A

* 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%: Prather (27%), Finney-Smith (25%), Young (22%)
  • Highest Floor%: Prather (49%), Young (44%), Kurtz (44%)
  • Highest %Pass: Hill (67%), Wilbekin (59%), D. Walker (47%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Frazier (49%), Young (45%), Prather (37%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Prather (18%), Yeguete (16%), Kurtz (16%)
  • Highest %T/O: Yeguete (10%), Kurtz (10%), D. Walker (10%)
  • Highest OR%: Finney-Smith (15%), Young (14%), Prather (9%)
  • Highest DR%: Finney-Smith (20%), Young (17%), Kurtz (14%)

  • The stats are incredibly well-distributed among Florida's top seven players here. Watch Scottie Wilbekin play, and you'd guess that he's averaging better than 12 PPG and 3.6 APG. Watch Will Yeguete play, and you'd assume he's capable of far better than a 5 & 5 on average. This is an unselfish, balanced team.

  • The big story for this game is obviously the addition of Chris Walker to the rotation. I'm not going to worry too much about him, honestly, and for two reasons: 1) It's his first game, and even great newcomers don't tend to blend in and dominate right from the start. 2) Florida was increasingly devastating without him. Missouri was going to have to play out of its mind to have a chance in this one no matter what.

Keys to the Game

  1. The glass. Overall, Florida's only good on the glass, not great, and if Missouri has any chance, the Tigers have to win this battle, plain and simple. Mizzou has been all over the map when it comes to rebounding effectiveness, but in terms of Expected Rebounds, there is no choice but to end up on the positive side.

  2. The 3-pointer. Jabari Brown is just absurdly hot at this point (26-for-43 from 3-point range in his last seven games), and considering both a) how poorly Mizzou's bigs tend to (not) finish around the basket and b) how good UF's 2-point defense is, Brown, Jordan Clarkson, and Earnest Ross (and probably Wes Clark) are all going to have to shoot really, really well from long-range. Oh yeah, and Mizzou has to keep Wilbekin and Frazier from getting hot as well. Good luck with that.

  3. Prather vs. Clarkson. I was going to go with ball-handling here, but I just don't have much hope in that battle at this point. Missouri is going to turn the ball over more than we wish, and it's going to eliminate virtually all margin for error. So instead, I'll focus on the battle between two guys who probably won't actually be battling one-on-one very much. Casey Prather and Jordan Clarkson produce similar stat lines despite playing different positions -- Prather grabs more rebounds, and Clarkson dishes more assists, but they're both 6'5ish, and both are much better near the rim than behind the arc; if Mizzou is to pull the upset, not only will the Tigers need to win in both rebounding and 3-point shooting, but Clarkson is probably going to need to match Prather's efficiency and scoring.

Prediction

From the start of the year, this game was the least likely win on Missouri's schedule. That hasn't changed. Pomeroy projects a 71-60 Florida win (with 87% win likelihood), and Mizzou could honestly keep up an encouraging week of play by only losing by that amount. It's hard to forget last year's disastrous trip to Gainesville, though, especially when you see what the Gators have done to other conference foes at home lately. Mizzou will have a chance if it wins the rebounding, 3-point and Clarkson-Prather battles, but even then, Florida's 2-point advantage could be too strong. I'm semi-optimistic about Saturday's game at Ole Miss, but I just can't even pretend to have hope for this one. We'll say Florida 75, Mizzou 58. Prove me wrong, boys.

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