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Study Hall: Iowa State

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Your Trifecta: Ratliffe-Dixon-Denmon. Your winner: Tysonthebison and JSchoey. Congrats, fellas.

First, some links!

Now, some stats!

Missouri 87, Iowa State 54

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
2.18 1.35
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.02 0.63
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.12 0.77
2-PT FG% 49.0% 31.3%
3-PT FG% 34.5% 18.2%
FT% 75.0% 66.7%
True Shooting % 52.2% 34.7%
Mizzou ISU
Assists 19 10
Steals 11 9
Turnovers 18 19
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.67 1.00
Mizzou ISU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 16 19
Offensive Rebounds 16 9
Difference +0 -10

Our Identity Can Beat Up Your Identity

It was almost a bit jarring seeing a team actively not trying to slow Mizzou down last night.  Before the game, the announcers made it sound as if Fred Hoiberg wanted his team to slow down the pace, but with a team (and coach) so inexperienced against this style, Iowa State ran and ran despite their best intentions, and ... You. Do. Not. Run. With. Missouri.

Call it a rookie mistake.  I'm already curious to see what adjustments the Cyclones make when Mizzou heads to Hilton next month, but this first time around, in front of an active crowd and a giddy team ("You're going to run with us??  Seriously??  YES!!!"), ISU never had a chance.

What's perhaps best is that ... Mizzou really didn't play all that well, at least on offense.  They averaged barely over a point per possession, turned the ball over a lot, and didn't shoot amazingly well.  But their transition defense was perhaps the best I've ever seen, and in giving ten players 14 minutes or more, they ran and ran until ISU no longer had their legs.

I mean ... Iowa State has a pretty good offense, and Mizzou held them to 0.63 points per possession.  0.63!  Even Harris-Stowe managed to average 0.72 against Mizzou!  I hope Nolan Richardson was watching last night, as that was the perfect illustration of everything you would ever want from a defense in Richardson's 'Forty Minutes of Hell' style.  I'm sure ISU will shoot better at Hilton, just because they couldn't shoot worse, but I think Mizzou had a hand in most of ISU's mistakes, and it was exhilarating to watch.  At a breakneck pace over 80 possessions, Iowa State barely hit 50 points.

And I haven't even talked about the rebounding yet...


As I said to Wes Kemp after his diving catch in the Insight Bowl ... now you've done it, Mizzou.  Now we all know what you're capable of on the glass.  For the season, Iowa State had an Offensive Rebound % of 31%; last night, it was 17%.  Three Tigers were at 20% or better on the defensive glass -- Justin Safford (21%), Laurence Bowers (20%), and ... Mike Dixon (29%)??  I'm not sure I've ever seen an expected rebounding margin in double digits, and if I have, Mizzou was the team getting outrebounded.  Mizzou held Iowa State to 27.1% shooting from the field ... and they grabbed all the defensive rebounds to boot.  Honestly, this was a good time for Mizzou not to have a great offensive performance -- the defense and rebounding assured that this was going to be an easy Tiger victory no matter what the offense did.  Even if Mizzou had averaged a rather terrible 0.80 points per possession, they'd have still won by 14 points.


As I mentioned in Friday's preview, Iowa State did indeed leverage Mizzou into taking shots they don't normally take -- 10-foot runners, 17-foot jumpers, spot-ups from the free throw line extended.  Mizzou made enough of them that it wasn't a problem -- thank you, Mike Dixon -- but it is something else to watch at Hilton.  If Iowa State plays with an edge after the embarrassment they faced last night, and if Mizzou finds all of their long jumpers rimming out, then they could face an angry couple of runs, especially early on.  But last night, everything worked out just fine, to say the least.

Block Party

From everybody's favorite stat-tidbit guru Tom Orf: Laurence Bowers already had five games with four or more blocks this season, and after yesterday's six-block performance, Ricardo Ratliffe has four.  Only Arthur Johnson (six in 2001-02, five in 2002-03) can match that.  And it's not February yet.

Hey, speaking of which...

Thank You For Choosing Missouri, Ricardo

When I saw Ratliffe's junior college stat lines, I envisioned some bull on the inside, a guy who dunked a lot and pulled down rebounds with authority. Instead, he is a player who almost never dunks (successfully) and gets his points and boards through positioning, craftiness and pure activity.  And now at 12 points, eight rebounds and almost two blocks per game, he is producing exactly what I hoped he would.  He continues to prove that he is exactly what last year's team was missing, and the fact that he produces at a higher level against "real" teams (13.4 PPG with the same rebounding and blocks) is a lovely bonus.

Hey Look, Phil Pressey's Still a Freshman

When Phil Pressey is at his best, he is almost nonchalant in his quickness and vision.  When he is playing poorly, "nonchalant" looks more like "careless."  You take the good with the bad with freshmen, and after two brilliant games against Texas A&M and Kansas State, Pressey put together a less-than-stellar performance last night.  He still had six assists, which means he now has more six-assist games as a freshman than any other Tiger (thank you, Tom Orf), but his turnovers were certainly of the 'careless' variety, and his shot was well off.

But hey ... if it's going to happen, he timed his bad performance pretty well, eh?

(In all, not a great night for the Brothers Pressey, who, with Matt's four turnovers, combined for seven assists, seven turnovers, no steals, and 5-13 shooting.  Matt did make his first 3-pointer since the North Alabama game, however, so that's something.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Ricardo Ratliffe 18.2 0.76 24 Min, 12 Pts (5-8 FG, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 6 Blk, 3 Ast
Mike Dixon 15.4 0.86 18 Min, 15 Pts (6-11 FG, 3-6 3PT), 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Marcus Denmon 15.1 0.63 24 Min, 13 Pts (6-11 FG, 1-3 3PT), 5 Reb, 4 Stl
Kim English 13.3 0.55 24 Min, 12 Pts (3-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 4-4 FT), 5 Reb, 4 Ast
Justin Safford 6.9 0.49 14 Min, 11 Pts (4-8 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 3 TO, 4 PF
Matt Pressey 4.7 0.23 20 Min, 9 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT), 8 Reb, 4 TO
Steve Moore 4.0 0.22 18 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 4 Reb
Jarrett Sutton 2.6 0.88 3 Min, 3 Pts (1-1 3PT)
Laurence Bowers 2.5 0.11 22 Min, 5 Pts (2-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-2 FT), 7 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 TO
Phil Pressey 1.5 0.09 16 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT), 6 Ast, 4 Reb (2 Off), 3 Stl
Ricky Kreklow -1.0 -0.06 17 Min, 1 Pt (0-4 FG, 1-2 FT), 2 Reb
  • Five-for-eight shooting, six blocks, three offensive rebounds and three assists?  Honestly, I'd have thought Ricardo Ratliffe's AdjGS total would have ended up in the 20's.  Or that he would have at least had the best per-minute average for the game.  But thanks to Mike Dixon's own shooting -- plus the fact that Dixon pulled down seven defensive rebounds, beating ISU's Jake Anderson at his own game -- Ricardo had to settle for second (sans Jarrett Sutton) in the per-minute race.
  • I'm really taking Marcus Denmon for granted at this point.  This was the third straight game in which Denmon produced at a 14-point (AdjGS) level or higher, and my first reaction after the game was "He was alright."  He shot over 50% and yoinked four steals.  That's better than alright for any other guard.
  • He honestly didn't shoot as well as I thought (3-for-10), but we still got an extended glimpse at Good Kimmeh last night.  He made his free throws, knocked down a couple of 3's, pulled down four defense rebounds, and dished four assists.  Plus, he set the tone with his incredible and vicious fast-break block of Calvin Godfrey six minutes into the game.  That was the first of many "Hey ISU ... are you sure you want to play this pace?" moments.
  • I know not everybody loves Justin Safford, but even in just 14 minutes, he continued to create the chaos this system requires.  I've said it before, but Safford has changed from something of a finesse player to a dirty-work guy -- he alone committed four of Mizzou's 15 fouls, plus he committed three turnovers, but Anderson starts him for a reason.  He blocked a shot, pulled down a couple of offensive rebounds, knocked down a couple of open jumpers ... he establishes Mizzou's identity, then goes to the bench while others follow through with it.
  • Look at Steve Moore knocking down the long jumpers!
  • Like Phil Pressey, Laurence Bowers was well-timed in laying an egg last night.  His jumper was off, and he committed two turnovers while grabbing just one offensive rebound.  Mizzou didn't need him, and that's good, but ... needless to say, both he and Pressey will need to be just a hair better in Austin this coming week.
  • Like Safford, Nuke Kreklow further added to the pace and chaos of last night's game ... and contributed next to nothing to the box score.  He has lost his jumper like a set of keys, and he will need to find it at some point.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Ricardo Ratliffe 16% 56% 2.9 61% 27% 9% 3%
Mike Dixon 29% 45% 3.3 48% 44% 0% 8%
Marcus Denmon 18% 49% 1.1 0% 100% 0% 0%
Kim English 21% 38% 3.9 60% 25% 13% 2%
Justin Safford 34% 34% 3.3 30% 41% 13% 16%
Matt Pressey 24% 31% 2.1 33% 45% 0% 22%
Steve Moore 7% 66% 1.2 66% 23% 0% 11%
Jarrett Sutton 13% 100% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Laurence Bowers 23% 16% 1.6 0% 69% 17% 14%
Phil Pressey 20% 31% 6.4 82% 11% 0% 7%
Ricky Kreklow 14% 13% 1.9 44% 30% 19% 7%
  • I love that line from Ricardo.  He was heavily involved in the flow of the offense, facilitating better than Mike Dixon and Marcus Denmon combined, but he still made the shots given to him.  Plus, he blocked shots and made free throws.  Really loving what he's added to this team.
  • When Phil Pressey wasn't on the court, it really doesn't appear that Mizzou had a point guard.  Mike Dixon was too busy knocking down jumpers, and the role of primary passer seemed to fall to Ratliffe and Kim English.  That makes me nervous sometimes, but obviously it didn't last night.
  • I honestly thought the %TO for Phil Pressey and Nuke would have been higher.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.  I whiff on these often, but ... I did not whiff this time.

Denmon vs Garrett

Marcus Denmon: 24 minutes, 13 points (6-11 FG), 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 steals
Diante Garrett: 35 minutes, 6 points (3-16 FG), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

Garrett did produce in the assists department, but he was flustered and flabbergasted all night.  When you are Iowa State's primary scorer and passer, six points in 16 shots obviously isn't going to cut it, and Denmon doubling him up in the points department (while playing 11 fewer minutes) really pretty much eliminated Iowa State's chances of winning.

The Lost Art of the Mid-Range Jumper

MIssouri on 2-pointers: 24-for-49 (49.0%).

Mike Dixon and Marcus Denmon shot 8-for-13 (62%) on 2-pointers, and Ratliffe went 5-for-8.  That got the job done, obviously, but the fact that the rest of the team went 11-for-28 (39%) is at least a bit of cause for concern.  Against leverage teams like Iowa State and Kansas in the future, Mizzou will need these three guys to continue to create and knock down their jumpers, but I guess we probably already knew that.

Rebound Like You Mean It

I'm not a big fan of the "Rebounding Margin" stat we are always fed, and for obvious reasons.  With Iowa State missing 51 shots to Mizzou's 44, the Tigers were almost certainly going to outrebound the Cyclones even if they were only average in pulling down defensive rebounds.  That said ... the 61-38 margin was downright comical.  Mizzou absolutely rebounded like they meant it ... and again ... now I will expect that the rest of the season, guys.


Mizzou now gets a week off before heading down to Austin for an absolute dogfight.  The 'Horns are long, athletic and outstanding on defense, and they just pulled off something Mizzou hasn't done since 1999 (and something nobody had done for a few years) -- they won in Lawrence.  They are on an absolute roll, and to beat them Mizzou will need to not only duplicate last night's performance, but do so with Good Pressey and Good Bowers in tow as well.  I still assume Kansas ends up winning the conference title, but the winner of next Saturday's game likely has the second-best chance of doing the deed.  Mizzou has owned Rick Barnes and Texas in recent seasons, but ... this is a really, really good Texas team.  Should be fun.



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.