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Study Hall: Mizzou vs Texas Tech -- 2-0, baby!

Ahh, basketball.  In five hours' worth of games over the last six days (and yeah, it's been a solid five hours for two games), about 4.5 of those hours have been somewhat or completely miserable ... but two wins later, everything's a happy memory.  Okay, not EVERYTHING, but ... 2-0, baby!

Geoffrey Mcallister photo via the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Mizzou 94, Texas Tech 89 (OT)

Points Per Minute
2.09 1.98
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.11 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.25 1.11
2-PT FG% 32.7% 34.0%
3-PT FG% 38.5% 44.4%
FT% 78.0% 54.8%
True Shooting % 50.5% 47.5%
Mizzou Tech
Assists 12 15
Steals 8 10
Turnovers 18 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.11 1.79
Mizzou Tech
Expected Offensive Rebounds 19 20
Offensive Rebounds 27 26
Difference +8 +6

This game made no sense.

For those opposed to things like "statistics" and "numbers" can point to this game as a good example of why all the analysis we (and lots of other nerds bloggers) do here is a waste of time.  Tech beats Mizzou in BCI and 3-point shooting and almost breaks even on the boards despite the fact that Mizzou started the game with a 20-8 edge ... and Mizzou wins.  Oh yeah, and both teams shot over 35% from beyond the 3-point arc ... and under 35% from inside the arc.

Heading into the game, Tech ranked 185th in Ken Pomeroy's 3-point shooting rankings ... and their SIX consecutive 3's late in the game were what both sent the game into overtime and almost won them the game in the extra period (well, that and some seriously shaky ball-handling from Mizzou without Zaire Taylor on the court); meanwhile, they were a top 50 free-throw shooting team ... and free-throw shooting cost them the game after the 3's brought them back.  Mizzou, on the other hand, ranked 96th in the country in free-throw shooting -- not bad, not great -- and shot 78% from the line on the road, making all eight freebies in overtime.  Everything you thought you knew about either one of these teams didn't really end up applying all that much.  Then again, when a game enters "one team starts pressing, fouling and launching 3's" territory, strange things tend to happen.

Good News, Bad News

Bad news: In 85 minutes of conference play, Mizzou has only actually played well for probably 15-20 minutes.  They've fouled too much, lost focus on the boards (after a great showing against KSU and complete domination over the first 10-15 minutes of the Tech game, they were crushed on the boards after that, getting outhustled and getting a few unlucky bounces), launched some bad shots, made some curious all-or-nothing drives, and committed too many turnovers.

Good news: In 85 minutes of conference play, Mizzou has only actually played well for probably 15-20 minutes ... and they're 2-0.  They've played their opponent's style of ball for two games and won them both.

As we saw with last year's "collapse and win anyway" win over Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba, simply winning gives you confidence, no matter how those wins play out.  If offered before the game started, you'd have taken a 5-point overtime win, and that's all that really matters.  This is what I am telling myself.

Player Stats

Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 22.9 0.82 28 Min, 20 Pts (6-for-12 FG, 3-for-7 3PT, 5-for-8 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Laurence Bowers 20.3 0.65 31 Min, 10 Pts (4-for-8 FG), 9 Reb (4 Off), 4 Blk, 2 Stl
Kim English 17.8 0.57 31 Min, 20 Pts (5-for-15 FG, 2-for-6 3PT, 8-for-11 FT), 10 Reb (3 Off), 3 TO, 4 PF
Zaire Taylor 10.1 0.36 28 Min, 12 Pts (4-for-11 FG, 2-for-5 3PT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 PF
Mike Dixon 7.7 0.43 18 Min, 11 Pts (2-for-7 FG, 6-for-6 FT), 2 Reb, 2 TO
J.T. Tiller 6.1 0.22 28 Min, 8 Pts (2-for-8 FG, 0-for-3 3PT, 4-for-4 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO, 5 PF
Justin Safford 3.7 0.16 23 Min, 10 Pts (3-for-10 FG, 3-for-4 FT), 4 Reb (3 Off), 3 TO
Keith Ramsey 3.5 0.15 23 Min, 3 Pts (0-for-2 FG, 3-for-4 FT), 8 Reb (3 Off), 2 TO
Steve Moore 3.4 0.28 12 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-1 FG), 3 Reb
Miguel Paul -1.5 -0.51 3 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 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.

  • Ahh, Marcus Denmon.  Your three consecutive missed free throws in regulation gave Tech just enough space to come back (that, and the turnovers), but there's no way in HELL Mizzou is winning this game without you.  Solid shooting, some boards, and some of the absolute best deny-your-man-the-ball defense I've seen at the end of OT.  Everybody in the arena knew Tech was going to try to get the ball to John Roberson with Tech down three, and Denmon simply refused to allow him to receive the ball.  Mike Singletary (who had a god-awful game) instead launched an ill-advised 3, and that was ballgame.

    It was nice seeing Denmon and Mike Dixon having to suck it up and win the game with Taylor on the bench and Tiller struggling (and eventually on the bench too) -- one more hurdle cleared for the future.  They both made mistakes that aided Tech's comeback (Dixon's horrific turnover with 20 seconds left in regulation was, um, a really good teaching experience), and they both made the plays that won the game in OT (Dixon was 4-for-4 from the line in the last 20 seconds of OT).
  • While the future is still bright for Denmon and Dixon (REALLY bright), it's still very clear that Zaire Taylor is Mizzou's most important player in crunch time, not only because of the shots he makes, but because of the good decisions he makes with the ball.  Both Kimmeh and Dixon made horrific decisions in the last minute of the game, and the probably wouldn't have had to if Taylor hadn't fouled out ... or if Mizzou had a timeout remaining.  Inexplicably, they had used up all of theirs in the game's first 39 minutes, and that usually doesn't happen with Anderson teams.
  • Once again, all that's right and wrong with J.T. Tiller was on display last night.  Nobody in the country is able to both dive for a loose ball and control it with one arm the way Jesus Tyrannosaurus can, and he's forced unlikely jump balls in each of the last two games doing just that.  His man bobbles a pass about six feet away, and in one motion, he dives for and gets good control of the ball.  The dude is strong.

    The dude is also not a primary crunch-time ball-handler, and with time running out in regulation, he pulled the ball back out to reset the offense ... with two seconds left on the clock.  Please never foul out again, Mr. Coffee.
  • Laurence Bowers has a higher value-per-shot than anybody else I've ever seen.  He only takes good shots (I'd actually like him to take some bad shots from time to time, just because it means he's being a bit more aggressive offensively ... and his baseline jumper is simply gorgeous), and he fills up the rest of the box score like few I've ever seen.  His four offensive rebounds, four blocks and two steals were absolutely necessary for Mizzou to win this game.
  • Pretty sure Keith Ramsey is a 22% free throw shooter in the first 30 minutes of games, and a 90% shooter in the last ten (and OT).  He makes no sense to me, but I am extremely comfortable with him at the line late in a game.

Three Keys Revisited

From Tuesday's preview. Gotta say ... didn't exactly nail this one.

The Zebras

They called everything for the first ten minutes, nothing for the next ten, then everything in the last 25.  In the end, this was a "call nothing near the basket, everything away from it" type of game, and Mizzou had to win without either Zaire Taylor, who fouled out with 1:31 remaining in regulation (Tech went on a 14-6 run to force OT after his departure), and J.T. Tiller, who fouled out with 0:20 left in overtime.  Kimmeh finished with 4 fouls, and just about everybody else on the team seemingly had 3.  Final tally: 59 fouls in 45 minutes.  That's two Big 12 games, 85 minutes ... 115 total fouls.  Ggh.

Kimmeh vs. the Linebacker's Son

Kim English: 20 points, 5-for-15 FG, 10 rebounds (3 offensive), 0 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 turnovers
Mike Singletary: 12 points, 4-for-9 FG, 17 rebounds (6 offensive), 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 6 turnovers

What an odd game from these two.  They combined for 32 points and 27 rebounds (???), and yet they were really neither the reason their team won, lost, almost won, or almost lost.  I mean, they played made great and terrible contributions (Kimmeh shot poorly and had a wretched turnover, leading to Tech scoring six points in about eight seconds late in regulation, while Singletary's six turnovers and key 3-point miss were killers for Tech), but in the end, this game felt like more of a Denmon vs John Roberson battle.  English and Singletary were role players ... sort of.  Seriously, I just don't know what to say about this game.  It was too odd.  Let's just move on.

Twelve Minutes to Four Minutes

Technically, I was right here.  With 12:00 left in the first half, Mizzou was up 4.  With 3:57 left, Mizzou was up 2.  Mizzou didn't collapse in this time, and they ended up winning the game.  Hooray for me.  Of course, that ignores a) how the game finished, and b) how Mizzou actually built a 7-point lead, then trailed by 3, then went back up by 2 in that span of time.  If I'd been doing the round-by-round scoring, there would have been about four combined knockdowns in rounds 3 and 4.


A game that was too uncharacteristic to make any sense ... and too long to try to make any sense out of it ... ended in a Mizzou win and a 2-0 conference record.  Every game is a learning experience, but when you win, it's a happy learning experience no matter what actually went down, so we've got that going for us, I guess.

Here are Mizzou's next seven conference games:

  • at Oklahoma
  • Nebraska
  • at Kansas
  • Oklahoma State
  • Texas A&M
  • at Colorado
  • Iowa State

IF Mizzou avoids a slip-up in Norman and Boulder (far from a given) and keeps playing well at home, they are looking at a potential 8-1 start to conference play.  And if they do slip up once, they're still looking at 7-2.  That's nice, but it's also quite important, as the final seven games are pretty brutal -- four road games (including trips to Waco and Manhattan, not to mention a trip to always-tricky-for-Mizzou Lincoln), with two of the remaining home games coming against Texas and Kansas.  Granted, those two teams look a lot more beatable now than they did a couple of weeks ago, but counting on a win against either is still a bit of a fool's errand, I think.

Considering how this team grew last year and appears to be growing this year (knock on wood), I think this is the kind of schedule we would want.  If we can count on Mizzou to be a better team a month from now than they are now, give us tougher games later and let us hopefully rack up some wins early on.  Needless to say, 8-1 looks a whole lot more realistic if they can avoid slipping against an OU team that makes even less sense than Tech -- they have two of the streakiest scorers in the country in Tony Crocker and Willie Warren, but those two have only caught fire a couple of times, and the team as a whole has played absolutely horrendous defense thus far.  Anyway, go Tigers, and ... 2-0, baby!