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Study Hall: Mizzou vs Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt 89, Mizzou 83

Points Per Minute
2.08 2.23
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.03 1.11
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.24 1.53
2-PT FG% 42.6% 58.5%
3-PT FG% 45.0% 29.4%
FT% 66.7% 83.9%
True Shooting % 53.5% 62.1%
Mizzou 'Dores
Assists 16 13
Steals 13 7
Turnovers 14 24
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.31 0.83
Mizzou 'Dores
Expected Offensive Rebounds 15 11
Offensive Rebounds 9 15
Difference -6 +4

Free Throws

Vanderbilt's FT% heading into last night: 65.3%
Mizzou's FT% heading into last night: 73.7%

If Vandy and Mizzou both shoot their season averages from the line, the score becomes Mizzou 85, Vandy 83.  For whatever reason, it didn't work out that way.  It's up to Mizzou to overcome a strange environment, and they clearly did not, but you do wonder how much the vaunted "strange sightlines" at Vandy's arena had to do with the poor shooting.  Thanks to a late hot streak from behind the 3-point line, Mizzou's overall shooting numbers ended up pretty decent, but they struggled for most of the game, and I'm assuming the arena didn't help things.  That, and Vandy's defense.


I was impressed with Vandy's early defense -- they were well-coached and knew Mizzou's tendencies.  But in the end, the game came down to free throw shooting and rebounding.  The FTs are not a huge concern, just because Vandy's great shooting (18.6% above their season average) had more of an impact than Mizzou's struggles (6.0% below theirs) -- stuff happens; the rebounding, on the other hand, just went from slight concern to major concern...sort of.

In terms of expected rebounds, you will rarely see a team put up a +10 margin, but Vandy did just that yesterday.  Mizzou played exactly the game it wanted to play, dominating in BCI and forcing 24 turnovers, but with Laurence Bowers in foul trouble most of the game (he played only 15 minutes and grabbed only 3 rebounds) and Vandy asserting its size advantage, Mizzou just got murdered on the glass.  It does make you worry about how Mizzou will do this year against bigger teams.  Luckily, aside from KU and Texas, few opponents will have the pure size/weight advantage over Mizzou that Vandy had last night, so what we saw last night will not, in theory, happen all year.

Halfcourt Offense

In the end, Mizzou's halfcourt offense wasn't bad.  We figured it would be a weakness this year, and while it certainly hasn't been a strength, there were some encouraging signs late in both the first and second halves.  (And considering most of the game was played without Mizzou's most offensively talented big man, Bowers, that becomes slightly more encouraging.)  Maybe the other struggles listed above just distracted me from this, but while Mizzou's halfcourt offense certainly isn't extremely consistent (we're seeing horrible possessions intermingling with great ones), there might be hope.  And considering that Mizzou lost basically its #1 and #2 (and maybe even #3) scoring options from last year's halfcourt sets, early-season inconsistency is far from surprising.

Player stats after the jump.

Player Stats

Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Zaire Taylor 23.7 0.74 32 Min, 17 Pts (6-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 3PT), 5 Ast, 5 Stl, 3 Reb, 3 TO
Keith Ramsey 14.4 0.44 33 Min, 6 Pts (2-for-4 FG), 7 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 Blk
Kim English 13.1 0.48 27 Min, 20 Pts (5-for-17 FG, 3-for-7 3PT), 5 Reb
J.T. Tiller 10.9 0.35 31 Min, 10 Pts (5-for-12 FG), 7 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 TO
Michael Dixon 9.6 0.46 21 Min, 11 Pts (4-for-8 FG), 2 Ast
Marcus Denmon 6.1 0.36 17 Min, 7 Pts (3-for-5 FG)
Justin Safford 5.3 0.27 20 Min, 9 Pts (3-for-9 FG), 2 Reb
Laurence Bowers 0.9 0.06 15 Min, 3 Pts (1-for-3 FG), 3 Reb
Steve Moore -1.1 -0.27 4 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-1 FG)

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It does the same thing my previous measure of choice did (it takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game), only the formula is more used and accepted.  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.

  • So Mizzou's bigs were 6-for-17 (35.3%), and their guards were 23-for-50 (46.0%).  That's not the way it's supposed to work.  Credit Vanderbilt's big men for really altering Mizzou's way of life down low.
  • If there's one specific concern when it comes to matching up with bigger teams, it's fouls.  Safford, Ramsey, and Bowers all ended up with four fouls, and Bowers' came in just 15 minutes of action.  Despite his many strengths, it is relatively easy for a bigger guy to push him around and get him just out of position enough that he ends up fouling trying to make a play.  I've mentioned that Bowers basically has Leo Lyons' game, only he's further along offensively than Leo was as a sophomore; the problem is, while Leo certainly wasn't big, he was at least in the 220-240 pound range throughout his college career.  Bowers is stuck at 210, and while his frame looks like it would easily support another 20 pounds, when is that weight gain going to happen exactly?
  • I think last night was another learning experience for Kimmeh English.  He got his shot blocked at least three times last night, and while you've got to absolutely love that it didn't even remotely make him hesitant, he probably learned a little bit more about when to shoot and when not to shoot.  He struggled for a good percentage of the game and still ended up with 20 points, and the sky is absolutely the limit for this guy, but he (and the team as a whole) is clearly still a work in progress.
  • I'm going to hate having to go through life without Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller next year, but the glimpses I'm seeing from Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon are telling me that the future is still very bright for Mizzou's backcourt defense.  Denmon is super-physical and Dixon is super-fast, and I really like the thought of them maturing together for a couple of years.
  • Speaking of Taylor...this dude can seriously shoot the ball.  I love that he has the "distributor first" mindset, but I wonder if/how that will change if Missouri does continue to experience inconsistency in the halfcourt sets.  He has shown that he can score in the paint and make the 3, and if others aren't stepping up their games, he might have to carry more of the scoring load.  I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing, especially considering how good a passer Tiller has become.
  • I like Keith Ramsey quite a bit -- love his defense in the press, especially -- but he's almost reached Monte Hardge territory for me on the offensive side of the ball.  At this point, every time he has the ball in his hands, all I can think is, "Pass it!  Pass it!  Pass it!  NO NO NO, don't dribble!!  Pass it!"


From the 20,000-foot view, this was a pretty decent loss.  Vanderbilt is clearly a good team, the game was played in a unique environment in which none of Mizzou's players had ever played, and Mizzou didn't match up very well size-wise, and in the end Mizzou lost by six due to their opponent's free throw shooting as much as anything else (that, and rebounding ... and that absolutely horrendous charge call on Tiller with :20 left).  This loss should do nothing to dampen whatever enthusiasm you had for this season.

That said, from the 15-foot view, losses are always a lot more annoying.  It's a lot harder to brush off single-game rebounding troubles, or FT shooting, or silly mistakes when you're watching them happen live.  Just keep at least one eye on the big picture, however, and realize that between now and the beginning of conference play, Missouri takes on just one foe anywhere near as good as Vandy (Illinois).  (Just in case you didn't notice, Oregon isn't good.  At all.)  If Missouri improves incrementally over the next month, they're still looking at a likely 12-3 record heading into conference play.