Because this really is the rare MU-KU game that is important for reasons other than "It's MU-KU," and because my counterparts at Rock Chalk Talk have thrown together a nice preview or two of their own, I figured I should do something too. So here's a look at KU using the same stats I've been using this year for Mizzou. And because their team has seen a shift in quality and minutes distribution lately, I'll look at only conference play.
vs Big 12
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||61.1%||49.4%|
|Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||80||102|
- KU holds opponents under 50% in True Shooting %, which is quite good. They play good on-ball, team defense and efficient offense through two primary weapons. That said...
- ...look at the BCI figure. They force 13 turnovers per game, which is decent...but they commit 14.8 per game. They have actually lost both the turnovers and steals battles in conference play thus far, and they are therefore losing the BCI battle as well. If they are to beat Mizzou in Columbia, they must control the ball. Sherron Collins (3.3 TOPG), Brady Morningstar 1.8 TOPG), and Tyshawn Taylor (2.0 TOPG) are primary ball handlers on this team, and the numbers show that it's at least possible to get in their heads a bit. Collins is a big-game player (then again, he had 8 turnovers against Michigan State), and I expect a good game from him, but...Morningstar? Taylor? Are they ready for this atmosphere?
- On the rebounding end, these numbers suggest that KU is only a mediocre offensive rebounding team, but a very solid defensive rebounding team.
- KU shoots 73% from the FT line, which is pretty much exactly what MU's opponents have shot thus far in conference play. MU's 67.2% isn't that far behind (one fewer make for every 20 FTs), but still...we'll need a 6-for-9 performance from DeMarre instead of his random 3-for-8.
|Cole Aldrich (So)||16.70||0.55||13.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 30.6 MPG|
|Sherron Collins (Jr)||14.48||0.41||17.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 35.1 MPG|
|Mario Little (Jr)||8.71||0.55||7.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG|
|Tyshawn Taylor (Fr)||8.69||0.33||10.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.6 APG|
|Brady Morningstar (So)||8.02||0.23||7.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 34.6 MPG|
|Tyrel Reed (So)||6.71||0.32||6.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 SPG|
|Marcus Morris (Fr)||6.71||0.41||7.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG|
|Markieff Morris (Fr)||4.72||0.37||4.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG|
|Matt Kleinmann (Sr)
|Travis Releford (Fr)
|Brennan Bechard (Sr)
|Quintrell Thomas (Fr)||-0.32||-0.10||0.0 PPG, 1.3 RPG|
|Connor Teahan (So)||-0.35||-0.17||6 minutes, 1 lifetime of shame|
|Tyrone Appleton (Jr)||-0.61||-0.45||4 minutes|
|Chase Buford (So)||-0.91||-1.82||1 minute|
* 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 basically KU has an 8-man rotation with three guys playing 30+ minutes a night. Mizzou can possibly create a strong depth advantage, especially if they can get somebody into foul trouble. Leo Lyons is one of the best in the country (somehow) at drawing fouls, and while I don't expect Cole Aldrich to be out of position too much, getting one (or both) of the Morris twins out of position and hacking could make Bill Self go much further into his bench than he's comfortable going.
- Mario Little has been KU's "little things" guy, not doing any particular thing wonderfully but doing everything pretty well.
Keys to the Game
Turnovers. KU's susceptible to poor ball-handing from time to time, and if Mizzou and the Mizzou Arena crowd get to them, it could lead to one or two quick 7-0 or 8-2 runs. That could make the difference in the game.
Matt Lawrence, Kimmie English, and/or Marcus Denmon (or maybe Zaire Taylor). Mizzou has done well shooting the 3 recently because of Goose, English and Denmon, one of them has been hot just about every game, and it's opened up Mizzou's offense wonderfully. At least one of them will need to catch fire tonight. My first guess is Goose, simply because he's the least likely to be awed by the moment. Then again, English has been just about the most mature player on the team all year, so maybe he'll do just fine. Or maybe it'll be Taylor, whose best quality this year has been his ice-water veins at key moments.
Denmon, however, has had some nervous streaks.
- The Morris Twins. If Mizzou has an advantage in this game, it's from their sheer quantity of weapons and options. Cole Aldrich is a good defensive player, and Leo/DeMarre have struggled with beefy, strong defenders overall. But Aldrich can only cover one of them. If either Leo or DeMarre consistently gets a step on either or both of the Morris twins, either drawing fouls or just getting some easy buckets, Mizzou should win. But if the Morris boys play well, the game's a tossup and will rely on the two keys above.
Nothing in the numbers I run sets up any sort of forecast, but then, nothing in the previous half of the conference season compares to an MU-KU game. This one is 90% about emotion. The last couple Kansas teams, led by Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, etc., have been pretty hardcore and emotionless, but this is a young team. Even their rock when it comes to ball-handling--Collins--has been randomly shaky. Only two of KU's players have played at Mizzou Arena, and if nothing else I think that's a significant advantage for Mizzou. BCI rules the day for Mizzou, and they win it 84-77.