Southern Miss 71, Missouri 63: Study Hall

Your Trifecta: Ross-Williams-Clarkson.

Honestly, this feels like exactly the type of team that could take Missouri down. The Eagles have the identity that Mizzou has lacked at times, and if they're allowed to rebound well and get some easy buckets off of live-ball turnovers, I see them handling the Tigers. It's not like this game is out of reach for Mizzou, obviously -- the Tigers should be able to get to the line at will and find open looks from 3-point range, those looks haven't fallen for quite a while. I'm going to say something like Southern Miss 73, Mizzou 66 and ask the Tigers to prove me wrong.

Safe to say, the Tigers didn't prove me wrong.

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

An experienced, mature Southern Miss team did a nice job of scoring a knockdown early, building a lead, and never, ever relinquishing it. The Eagles went on a 12-2 run from the 10:45 mark of the first half to the 6:45 mark and fought Mizzou to a draw, basically, the rest of the way. Mizzou rallied here and there but just couldn't get all the way back.

Southern Miss 71, Missouri 63

Mizzou
USM
Pace (No. of Possessions) 61.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.03 1.16
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.47 1.31
2-PT FG% 34.5% 45.2%
3-PT FG% 50.0% 39.1%
FT% 73.3% 59.3%
True Shooting % 56.0% 53.9%
Mizzou USM
Assists 7 14
Steals 6 7
Turnovers 14 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.93 1.91
Mizzou USM
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.7 12.7
Offensive Rebounds 9 14
Difference -1.7 +1.3
  • Why yes, Southern Miss DID shoot better and more frequently than normal from 3-point range. Crazy, huh? Still, the 3-pointer wasn't a deciding issue in this one with Mizzou making seven of 14. The big problem for the Tigers, despite the overall advantage in True Shooting %, was a horrific performance around the rim. Mizzou was 10-for-29 on 2-pointers (3-for-12 in the first half). Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson were 5-for-19. Yuck.

  • Basically, the two things that I figured would kill Missouri -- rebounding and ball-handling -- killed Missouri, and Mizzou's shooting advantage (an advantage mainly because of 3-pointers and free throws) wasn't nearly enough of an advantage because of the 2-pointers.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Earnest Ross 26.6 0.72 37 Min, 22 Pts (6-9 FG, 4-7 3PT, 6-6 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO, 3 PF
Johnathan Williams III 12.9 0.44 29 Min, 6 Pts (2-3 FG, 2-2 FT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 1 Stl, 4 Blk, 2 TO, 4 PF
Jordan Clarkson 12.1 0.34 36 Min, 13 Pts (4-13 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4-5 FT), 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF
Torren Jones 7.2 0.33 22 Min, 4 Pts (0-1 FG, 4-7 FT), 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 PF
Jabari Brown 2.2 0.06 39 Min, 13 Pts (4-13 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3-4 FT), 3 Reb, 3 TO, 4 PF
Ryan Rosburg 1.1 0.08 13 Min, 3 Pts (1-2 FG, 1-2 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 2 TO, 4 PF
Keanau Post 0.5 0.16 3 Min, 1 Pts (1-2 FT), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO
Shane Rector -0.3 -0.03 11 Min, 1 Pts (0-1 FG, 1-2 FT), 1 Reb, 1 PF
Danny Feldmann -0.8 -0.08 10 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 1 Stl, 2 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Ross 26% 46% 2.7 39% 30% 15% 17%
J3 12% 41% 0.7 0% 46% 23% 31%
Clarkson 26% 39% 4.3 62% 28% 8% 2%
Jones 11% 34% 0.9 0% 16% 84% 0%
Brown 26% 26% 1.6 0% 69% 15% 16%
Rosburg 21% 26% 1.4 0% 37% 27% 37%
Post 36% 22% 2.7 0% 0% 59% 41%
Rector 10% 22% 0.7 0% 41% 59% 0%
Feldmann 6% 0% 0.3 0% 100% 0% 0%

  • Hell of a way to go out, Earnest Ross. Obviously the five turnovers were costly, but 22 points on nine field goal attempts will certainly balance that out quite a bit.

  • Johnathan Williams III's season averages: 5.8 PPG on 45% shooting (57% from the line), 6.5 RPG (2.8 ORPG), 1.6 BPG, 0.7 APG. Not bad. Lots of potential efficiency in there if he can pack on a little bit of muscle. Okay, about 15 pounds of muscle.

  • Bad time for a bad game from Jabari Brown. If he posts his season averages from an Adj. GS perspective, Mizzou probably wins. But he didn't get to the line nearly as effectively as normal -- he was averaging an absurd 11 free throw attempts per game over his previous eight contests -- and his only other contributions to the box score were three good things (rebounds) and seven bad things (turnovers, fouls).

  • Clarkson's finishing ability wasn't too impressive in this one, but he handled Southern Miss' pressure better than I thought. Obviously that was countered a bit by eight turnovers from Ross and Brown (and no Wes Clark off the bench).

  • No Feldmann magic in this one, though Torren Jones did provide some energy.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The glass

Southern Miss rebounds nearly 40 percent of its missed shots. The Eagles can't score if they aren't grabbing second-chance opportunities, and while Mizzou probably isn't going to win the rebounding battle, keeping things within 2-3 in terms of expected rebounds will be key.

Expected Rebounds: Southern Miss +3

Obviously Mizzou needed to do better, but I would have accepted a minus-3 margin here if you'd offered it to me before the game. I feared worse.

BCI! BCI!

The Eagles can't get stops if they aren't forcing turnovers. They force nearly 16 per game despite a slow pace. But hey, that plays right into Mizzou's hands! (Mizzou is undefeated when committing a lot of turnovers, so...)

BCI: Southern Miss 1.91, Mizzou 0.93

Jordan Clarkson: five assists, no steals, one turnover (BCI: 5.00).
Everybody Else: two assists, six steals, 13 turnovers (BCI: 0.62).

Obviously part of Mizzou's awful assist totals this season come from the fact that the Tigers were getting to the line so much. You don't get assists for free throws even if you set the shooter up to get fouled. (And yes, most of Mizzou's free throws came off of no-assist drives anyway.) But while it looks like Mizzou's offense will finish around No. 32 in Ken Pomeroy's efficiency ratings -- certainly not bad considering the loss of Phil Pressey, Laurence Bowers, and Alex Oriakhi from last year -- obviously there were quite a few droughts involved with the lack of ball movement. Mizzou needs to create more easy baskets next year, either through turnovers and transition (a major issue this fall) or passing (another issue).

The free throw line

I'm already regretting not putting "The 3-pointer" on this list, but this has been and will continue to be the key to the Missouri offense. The Tigers are going to turn the ball over, and Southern Miss is probably going to be pretty successful in junking the game up a bit. But as long as Missouri is getting to the line to counteract the damage of turnovers, that's probably alright. Southern Miss' defense hasn't been nearly as effective against good offenses (they're obviously not alone in that regard), but Mizzou hasn't always responded well to physical defense.

Fouls: Southern Miss 22, Mizzou 21
Free Throws: Mizzou 30, Southern Miss 27

Thanks mostly to Earnest Ross and Torren Jones, Mizzou certainly got to the line quite a bit. The problems were that a) Jabari Brown wasn't getting to the line, and b) Southern Miss was getting to the line just as much. The Golden Eagles were only 16-for-27 on freebies, which gave Mizzou a chance, but the aforementioned rebounding, ball-handling, and awful finishing from Brown and Clarkson (and steady play from Southern Miss, obviously) prevented Mizzou from capitalizing.

Summary

We'll get into the season post-mortem in the coming days, but as is the case for all but 1-2 teams every single year, Mizzou's fatal flaws were prominent in the Tigers' final game of the season. When Mizzou lost for one final time, we had a good idea why they would lose. I was outraged that Southern Miss was passed over in the NCAA Tournament in favor of N.C. State, and this game gave us a good indication why. The Golden Eagles were more than capable of taking advantage of Mizzou's deficiencies, and in the end, their maturity made the difference. They needed only one spurt, really, to seize the game, and Mizzou couldn't ever take it back.

---

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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