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Study Hall: Kansas State

COLUMBIA MO - JANUARY 17:  Michael Dixon #11 of the Missouri Tigers battles Jacob Pullen #0 of the Kansas State Wildcats for a loose ball during the game on January 17 2011 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA MO - JANUARY 17: Michael Dixon #11 of the Missouri Tigers battles Jacob Pullen #0 of the Kansas State Wildcats for a loose ball during the game on January 17 2011 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Your Trifecta: Denmon-PPressey-Bowers.  Your Winner: nobody! We had a couple of Denmon-PPressey-Ratliffes and a Denmon-Bowers-PPressey, but ... no dice!

I'm quickly starting to realize that I can't necessarily use Pomeroy's Four Factors stats (FG%, Turnovers, Rebounds, Fouls) as the basis for my predictions, because ... basically, Mizzou is a schizophrenic rebounding team.  Their overall rankings are not good (133rd in Off. Reb., 268th in Def. Reb.) ... and yet, when they play big-time rebounding teams like Kansas State, Texas A&M and Old Dominion, they focus extra manpower on it and do just fine.  KSU's rebounding edge led me to believe this would be a tighter-than-expected game, but with Mizzou basically evening KSU out in the category, the game was decided by ball-handling ... and that's a battle Mizzou will win more often than not.

Mizzou 75, Kansas State 59

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
1.88 1.48
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14 0.90
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.36 1.26
2-PT FG% 47.2% 54.8%
3-PT FG% 42.1% 18.8%
FT% 63.0% 72.7%
True Shooting % 56.1% 52.0%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 15 8
Steals 12 3
Turnovers 12 24
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.25 0.46
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 10
Offensive Rebounds 14 13
Difference +2 +3

Submitted Without Comment

Phil Pressey: 24 minutes, 13 points (5-9 FG, 3-5 3PT), 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 turnover (7.0 BCI).
Jacob Pullen: 34 minutes, 16 points (4-11 FG, 1-5 3PT), 1 assist, 0 steals, 3 turnovers (0.3 BCI).

Okay, a Small Comment

I think this Phil Pressey experiment is going to work out just fine.

Okay, a Larger Comment

It's not in my nature to make broad conclusions over small sample sizes, so I'm not using the Pressey-Pullen comparison above to suggest that Pressey is a better player right now by any means ... but he was better yesterday evening.  And if nothing else, the fact that our freshman point guard was capable of outplaying not only a senior, but a preseason All-America candidate ... that's mighty impressive.

We've heard of "the switch being flipped" before, when a player just suddenly "gets it" and kicks his game up a hefty notch.  Well ... here are the last five games in which Phil Pressey played without a big, heavy brace on his shooting hand (in other words, not counting the Colorado and Nebraska games, in which he was severely limited):

26.6 minutes, 11.4 points (61% shooting, 10-for-15 on 3-pointers), 6.4 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.2 turnovers (BCI: 3.8), 2.8 rebounds.

That's 14.7 AdjGS/game, 0.55/minute.  Or to put it another way, that is insane.  In both the live thread during the game and on RMN after the game, there was discussion about how the point guard role will develop between New Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon, and ... well, if Pressey keeps playing like this, there is no debate.  He is the team's go-to point guard, and as we'll see below, Dixon carved out a nice niche yesterday splitting between, basically, backup point guard and backup shooting guard.  Clearly there are minutes to be had on this team, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Dixon and Phlip combine for about 48-50 minutes per game, Phlip serving 25 or so as point guard, Dixon 15 as point guard and 10 as shooting guard.  No matter what, this is a dilemma a coach enjoys having.

Seriously ... look at those stats above one more time.  That is simply ridiculous.  He's made nine of his last 12 three-pointers.



I'm Sensing a Correlation...

As I've mentioned before I track Mizzou games versus "real" teams throughout the season to see how Mizzou plays against the less cupcaky teams on the schedule.  We can quibble about which teams qualify as "real," but by my definition Mizzou has played 10 real teams so far in 2010-11 and gone 7-3.  In wins, they are pulling down offensive rebounds at a rate of 35%; in losses, 29%.  In wins, opponents are grabbing offensive rebounds at a rate of 34%; in losses, 42%.  In other words, they are +1% in offensive rebounding margin in wins, -13% in losses.  Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Other Trends

Here are some more interesting differences between wins and losses:

  • Opponents' 3-point % in wins: 33.3%
    Opponents' 3-point % in losses: 41.0%
  • Opponents' True Shooting % in wins: 53.4%
    Opponents' True Shooting % in losses: 62.8%
  • Opponents' %TO in wins: 10.8%
    Opponents' %TO in losses: 5.9%

    (Interestingly, the %Pass/%Shoot/%Fouled/%TO breakdown is almost identical for the Mizzou offense in wins and losses -- they play the same way in wins and losses, but the quality of play is a little different, to say the least.)
  • Opponents' Free Throw Attempts Per Field Goal Attempt (FTA/FGA) in wins: 0.33
    Opponents' FTA/FGA in losses: 0.40

Nothing earth-shattering here, of course, though here's an interesting one:

  • Mizzou's True Shooting % in wins: 53.8% (2PT%: 47.0%)
    Mizzou's True Shooting % in losses: 58.1% (2PT%: 55.3%)

Mizzou has shot better in losses than wins, suggesting that offense is almost secondary to ball pressure and FG% defense for this team.

(And thanks to Ricardo Ratliffe's poor performance from the line yesterday, Mizzou is also now shooting free throws worse in wins than in losses.  But that's neither here nor there.)

I'm On To You, Fran

Last year, I posted the "Fran Fraschilla Does a Mizzou Game" Drinking Game to great acclaim (in my head, anyway) ... and Fraschilla was immediately removed from doing Big 12 games.  Clearly this was because of the drinking game, ahem.  Now, he has done two Mizzou games in three days ... and damned if he didn't seem to be going out of his way to make sure that anybody playing the Fran-Mizzou Game was unconscious by halftime.  It was his Robin Scherbatsky "But, um..." moment.  I'm on to you, Coach.  And since you referenced your coaching career while talking about Frank Martin's temperament ... YOU WERE NO LOU CARNASECCA.

Foul Watch

  • Avg. Fouls in Mizzou Home Games: Opponent 25.5, Mizzou 20.0
  • Avg. Fouls in Mizzou Road Games: Mizzou 23.5, Opponents 18.5

One other officiating note: that double technical near the beginning of the second half was turrible.  I understand wanting to tighten things up and make sure tempers don't go wild, but ... Shane Southwell deserved about one-third of a technical for his actions, Kimmeh deserved about one-fourth of a tech.  That was like ejecting a pitcher for throwing a curveball a bit too far inside.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 16.7 0.56 30 Min, 14 Pts (4-9 FG, 1-2 3PT, 5-7 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 3 Stl, 2 Ast
Phil Pressey 16.6 0.69 24 Min, 13 Pts (5-9 FG, 3-5 3PT), 4 Stl, 3 Ast
Laurence Bowers 9.6 0.35 27 Min, 10 Pts (3-4 FG, 4-4 FT), 3 Reb, 2 TO
Mike Dixon 6.9 0.34 20 Min, 9 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-4 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Kim English 6.8 0.34 20 Min, 10 Pts (3-6 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-3 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Stl, 3 TO, 5 PF
Ricardo Ratliffe 6.3 0.26 24 Min, 10 Pts (4-8 FG, 2-7 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off)
Justin Safford 5.0 0.25 20 Min, 5 Pts (1-3 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb
Matt Pressey 2.1 0.12 17 Min, 4 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-1 3PT), 3 Ast
Steve Moore 1.6 0.17 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 2 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast
Ricky Kreklow -0.5 -0.05 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 3PT)
  • Yet another "mediocre" game from Marcus Denmon, who showed me once again how high my expectations of him have become.  He played a lot closer to the rim yesterday, and I'm interested to see if that's the beginning of a trend, or if it was just because of the matchups with K-State.

    His one 3-pointer, however, was gigantic -- with Mizzou up just three points with under eight minutes left, Kim English missed a three and KSU's Will Spradling came down with the rebound.  But Phlip Pressey stole the ball from Spradling and found Bowers, who swung to Denmon for the open bomb.  That sequence was the trigger for the 12-0 knockout blow that featured the gorgeous Pressey-to-Bowers alley-oop and finished off the Wildcats.
  • Yes, Kim English still forced the issue a bit too much and ended up with five fouls and three turnovers to show for it, but I say this was Good Kimmeh last night.  He was throwing his body around, matching KSU's physicality and setting a nice tone for Mizzou's effort.  Plus ... hey ... he did make two of four 3-pointers.
  • Ricardo Ratliffe's season FT% is down to 55.6% after yesterday's stinker.  He's come up big from the line at times, but he was just off yesterday.  And hey ... he went to the line yesterday, meaning he was playing more physical than he has at other times this year.
  • Obviously it doesn't reflect in the box score, but Mizzou got 18 nice minutes from the Hustle Tandem of Moore and Kreklow.  Moore tracked down two big offensive rebounds (and ended up with two assists to show for his hustle), and Kreklow continued to create chaos as he is wont to do.  I'll once again say that at some point, Ricky needs to knock down a damn jumper -- he's missed his last six field goal attempts and is 1-for-9 from 3-point range in calendar year 2011 -- but he's figuring out ways to contribute, and he's being rewarded with a few more minutes.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Marcus Denmon 22% 42% 2.9 41% 32% 24% 3%
Phil Pressey 21% 51% 3.5 64% 33% 0% 3%
Laurence Bowers 15% 51% 1.8 37% 25% 25% 13%
Mike Dixon 30% 35% 4.8 56% 22% 12% 10%
Kim English 26% 34% 2.7 33% 34% 16% 17%
Ricardo Ratliffe 26% 35% 2.0 0% 51% 43% 6%
Justin Safford 10% 39% 0.8 0% 61% 39% 0%
Matt Pressey 21% 36% 4.5 72% 24% 0% 4%
Steve Moore 6% 43% 4.4 92% 8% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 11% 0% 0.7 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • So Mizzou basically had three point guards at different times yesterday -- Phil Pressey (67% pass/turnover, 33% shoot/fouled), Mike Dixon (66%, 34%) and Matt Pressey (76%, 24%).  We can debate PPressey vs Dixon if we want ... but would anybody complain if we had, for all intents and purposes, two points on the floor at once?
  • Granted, against K-State the fouls flow like water, but it was still nice seeing six players with a %TO in double digits.  Guys weren't backing down from KSU's physicality.

Three Keys Revisited

From Sunday's preview.

Big-Boy Rebounding

As mentioned above, Mizzou once again held their own against a great rebounding team.  Now do it against a lesser rebounding team too.  (FYI: Iowa State ranks 236th in Off. Rebounding, 127th in Def. Rebounding.)

Kim English vs Rodney McGruder

Kim English: 20 minutes, 10 points (3-6 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 turnovers.
Rodney McGruder: 30 minutes, 4 Points (2-9 FG, 0-4 3PT, 0-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers

English wasn't amazingly effective, but McGruder was downright bad.  A hot McGruder could have made things very interesting when KSU was coming back in the second half, but instead, he was completely ineffective.

Ball Control

BCI: Mizzou 2.25, Kansas State 0.46.  Eight assists to 24 turnovers is not a way to defeat Missouri at Mizzou Arena.


Very lovely response by Missouri in this one.  Since the loss in Boulder, Mizzou is getting off to faster starts (yesterday wasn't fast, per say, but they didn't fall behind), and ... let's just say that I'm very intrigued by Mizzou's potential with this new version of Phil Pressey, and leave it at that.

Iowa State is up next -- in a lot of ways, they are the polar opposite of Kansas State.  They are perhaps the least physical team in the conference, and they play fast, but they have some of the best FG% defense in the country and, very much unlike KSU, they don't turn the ball over much.  It will be yet another interesting test for Mizzou as conference play continues to unfold.




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.  As you would expect, someone like Kim English has a high Usage%, while Steve Moore has an extremely low one.

Floor%: Via 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 Steve Moore, 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.