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Know Your Old Big 8 Rival: Oklahoma

I spent a good portion of my day spending an obscene amount of money at Lowe's, then ripping up flooring in the guest bathroom, so this is getting posted much later than I intended.  I know, I know ... unacceptable.

It's been a while since he wandered the sideline, but every time I think about Mizzou having to play in Lloyd Noble Center, I think of Billy Tubbs, who is potentially at the very top of my all-time People I Really Enjoyed Hating list.

Okay, while we're on the YouTubes...Mizzou reclaims the #1 ranking in 1990!

It goes without saying that Mike Anderson and Jeff Capel don't quite have the same bitter rapport and rivalry as Tubbs and Norm Stewart did, but ... well, I've got the memories.  My blood pressure enjoys the current coaching matchup much better.  As fun as the rivalry may have been (sometimes), I don't necessarily miss those battles, just like I don't miss the Keyon-Najera matchup either.

Speaking of matchups ... how do they look for Mizzou's trip to Norman tomorrow?

Oklahoma: 10-6

OU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.87 1.78
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.11 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.31 1.19
2-PT FG% 50.6% 47.4%
3-PT FG% 35.5% 36.2%
FT% 73.3% 73.0%
True Shooting % 56.1% 53.%
OU Opp
Assists/Gm 13.7 13.8
Steals/Gm 6.1 6.7
Turnovers/Gm 12.2 13.1
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.63 1.57
OU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 196 202
Offensive Rebounds 175 180
Difference -21 -22

Ken Pomeroy Stats

OU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
OU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 56 7 Mizzou
Effective FG% 79 17 Mizzou
Turnover % 34 1 Mizzou
Off. Reb. % 224 298 OU
FTA/FGA 179 183 Push
MU Offense vs OU Defense Ranks
MU Offense OU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 42 198 Mizzou big
Effective FG% 47 216 Mizzou big
Turnover % 91 272 Mizzou big
Off. Reb. % 66 127 Mizzou
FTA/FGA 219 14 OU big

Using the same super-rough "scoring system" that I used a couple of previews ago (1 point for an advantage, 2 points for a "big" advantage), it shapes up as a 3-1 advantage for Mizzou on defense, a 7-2 advantage for Mizzou on offense.  This sounds about right.  OU's problems have absolutely not been on offense, though they have indeed been rather inconsistent on that side of the court; no, their problem is that their defense is ranked 11th in the country in defensive efficiency.

Where the Former Fightin' Billy Tubbs are strongest

  1. Willie Warren Aside, They Handle the Ball Well for a Young Team.  They sit at 34th in Offensive Turnover Percentage, which is impressive since four of their top five guards are freshmen and sophomores.  It's even more impressive considering Willie Warren averages 4.1 turnovers per game.  That's a solid one-third of the team's turnovers!  (FYI: he had 7 points and 4 turnovers when these teams met at Mizzou Arena last year.)  Freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin is averaging only 2.0 turnovers in over 32 minutes per game, which is damn impressive.  He will obviously get a major test tomorrow, but if he passes that test, OU will have a shot.

  2. They Can Catch Fire at Any MomentWillie Warren's game log is quite intriguing, and Tony Crocker's is downright fascinating.  In a five-game span in December, Warren scored 25, 9, 27, 4 and 26 points.  He went 10-for-14 with 25 points against Arizona ... and went 3-for-14 with 8 points against VCU.  And he's not even the most hot-and-cold guy on his own team.

    In 27 minutes against San Diego (in OU's most egregious loss of the season), Tony Crocker was 1-for-7 from the field, 1-for-5 from 3-point range, and scored 3 points.  Against Centenary, he made seven 3's and scored 29 points in the first half.  He has scored 8 or fewer points five times; he has scored 16 or more five times.  If he makes his first 3 tomorrow, be afraid, be very afraid.  But it's far from guaranteed that he'll do anything whatsoever.  These two make it damn near impossible to know what to expect from OU this season.  And they're OU's most experienced contributors!

Where my relatives' favorite team is weakest

  1. They Are a God-Awful Defensive Team.  They don't force turnovers, they don't block shots, and they give up a ton of wide-open shots, particularly 3-pointers.  We heard a lot about OU's great recruiting class this offseason -- Tiny Gallon was a 5-star recruit, Mason-Griffin and Andrew Fitzgerald were 4 stars -- but they did not walk in the door knowing how to play defense at a major conference level, and they quite simply have some catching up to do.  That, and OU's returnees aren't exactly defensive dynamoes.  Whether they relied a bit too much on the Griffin brothers to bail them out last year, or they're just not very defensive-minded, or Jeff Capel's not a good defensive coach ... who knows?  What's certain is that this team just is not consistent at all on the defensive end of the court.  If Mizzou is dialed in from 3-point range (which, as with Crocker, is not a guarantee), they could make a ton of them.

    But hey, OU doesn't foul a lot (aside from Tiny Gallon), so there's that.

  2. Focus Is an Issue.  Guess you could call this 1a instead of 2.  You can also chalk this one up to youth if you want.  They have no presence on the offensive glass, they settle for 3's too much (they are 28th in the country in 3PT/FGA ratio), their best player turns the ball over at an alarming rate, etc.  They are quite simply a young team, and their attention wanes often.  Capel has them playing a very slow brand of basketball -- their 68-possession tempo is 218th in the country -- and I'm not sure how good an idea that is.  Half-court games require attention and focus on both ends of the court, and that is apparently not a strength, at least not this year.

  3. They are THIN.  For the most part, Capel uses an 8-man rotation, which isn't bad, but Crocker, Warren and Mason-Griffin all average at least 32 minutes per game, and ... well, if you are still able to produce at a high level after 32 minutes against Mizzou, then power to you.  Few can, especially factoring in the way fouls have been called in Mizzou's first two conference games.  Even if you have the mental stamina to play that long, you might rack up eight fouls.

OU's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from
    #53 Oklahoma State (62-57, OT)
    #89 Northern Colorado (80-79)
    #98 Arizona (79-62)
    at #111 Utah (78-73, OT)
    #145 Arkansas (67-47)
    #214 Mt. St. Mary's (95-71)
    #275 Nicholls State (81-60)
    #277 UL-Monroe (72-61)
    #318 Centenary (86-62)
    #336 MD-Eastern Shore (88-54)
  • Losses
    at #32 Baylor (60-91)
    at #43 Gonzaga (69-83)
    vs #62 UTEP (74-89)
    at #72 VCU (69-82)
    vs #87 Houston (93-100)
    vs #207 San Diego (64-76)

As with most Big 12 teams, the Sooners have held their own at home.  They've faced three Top 100 teams in Norman and beaten all three.  (Granted, one of those teams was Northern Colorado, but still.)  On the road, they have been less than impressive, but that doesn't really apply here.)  As with Texas Tech on Wednesday, Mizzou is by far the best team (according to KenPom ratings) OU has faced thus far, and while their other two games against Top 50 opponents came on the road, they still lost to Baylor and Gonzaga by a combined 45 points.  Like I said above, this is a team that can catch fire at any moment, but they're going to need to be hot to have a chance.

OU Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Tony Crocker (6'6, 209, Sr.) 14.7 0.44 33.6 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 TOPG
Willie Warren (6'4, 203, So.) 14.6 0.44 33.2 MPG, 17.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 4.1 TOPG!
Tiny Gallon (6'9, 296, Fr.) 13.5 0.54 24.9 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.9 TOPG
Tommy Mason-Griffin (5'11, 206, Fr.) 9.9 0.30 32.6 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.8 RPG
Cade Davis (6'5, 199, Jr.) 8.3 0.31 27.1 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG
Steven Pledger (6'4, 217, Fr.) 5.7 0.29 19.6 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Andrew Fitzgerald (6'8, 258, Fr.) 4.1 0.33 12.4 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG
Ryan Wright (6'9, 241, Sr.) 3.6 0.23 15.8 MPG, 3.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG
Ray Willis (6'6, 164, So.) 2.6 0.26 9.7 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Orlando Allen (6'10, 288, Jr.) 1.4 0.18 7.8 MPG, 1.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG
Beau Gerber (6'8, 227, Sr.) 0.4 0.31 6 minutes
T.J. Franklin (5'11, 166, So.) -0.2 -0.11 12 minutes
Kyle Hardrick (6'8, 229, Fr.) -0.1 -0.04 3 minutes

* 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.

  • Again, if the 3's start raining down, look out.  OU has FIVE players who have attempted at least 67 3's this year -- Pledger (76, making 34.2%), Warren (75, with a pitiful 28.0%), Davis (74, 31.1%), Crocker 69, 42.0%), and Mason-Griffin (67, 43.3%) -- and while they haven't been anything close to consistent in shooting them, if they're falling in, they can beat anybody.  It's the one thing that scares me about this game.
  • Fun fact: Cade Davis played at a western Oklahoma town (Elk City) that a) was one of my hometown's (Weatherford) major rivals, b) has the most predictable mascot of all-time (Elks) and c) is one of the only schools in the country whose school colors are brown and white.  It's as gross as you are probably imagining.
  • Tiny Gallon is a freaking behemoth.  I cannot think of a worse matchup for Mizzou than "agile 6'9, 300-pounder who shoots 55.8%" -- if you recall, Dexter Pittman lit Mizzou on fire for a half last year in Austin -- and he might well have a huge game.  Of course, he also commits a ton of fouls, so if Mizzou is assertive underneath, or if he sends our comparatively scrawny guys flying, then he might not get too many minutes.  Either way, he did this, which is awesome.

Keys to the Game

  1. Neutralize Gallon.  Whether it is by getting him into foul trouble (he does seem to be iffy defensively), making his life hell offensively, or simply matching his numbers with Bowers or somebody, Gallon can't be allowed to take over the game.  He is a matchup nightmare, but there are ways to neutralize him.

  2. The 3-pointer.  One of two things needs to happen: either Mizzou needs to make their open 3's, or OU needs to not be given many open looks themselves.  If OU catches fire, they've got a very good chance.  If Mizzou catches fire, OU has almost no chance.

  3. Pace.  This is another game where Mizzou will attempt to speed up a slow-paced team.  Their runs against Texas Tech and K-State came when they got things going quickly, and if OU can successfully keep things at a crawl (like ORU did), then obviously that limits Mizzou's effectiveness.  Over 70 possessions, and chances are Mizzou wins.  Under 70, and they might still win (OU's defense is that bad), but the odds are worse.


In their wins, OU has slowed things down and given up 62.6 points per game.  In their losses, the pace has gone up and OU has given up 86.8 points per game.  So it's pretty easy to make "If Mizzou wins..." and "If OU wins..." predictions here.  If OU wins, it's a slow-down game in which Crocker, Warren or somebody gets hot, and OU makes free throws down the stretch (they're a very good FT shooting team, but then again, so was Tech) to win something like 74-66.  If Mizzou wins, it's going to be more like 86-71.  Ken Pomeroy gives Mizzou an 83% chance of winning this game, and while I don't think the odds are quite that high, I'm more confident heading into this game than I was against Tech.  (Kiss of death, I know.)  Therefore we're going with the latter.  Of course we are.  Mizzou 86, Oklahoma 71.