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Study Hall: Oklahoma

Your Trifecta: Dixon-Bowers-Safford.  Your winner: ...are you kidding?  For Dixon-Bowers-Safford?  No winner.  In fact, only one person listed Safford at all.

First ... links!

Mizzou 84, Oklahoma 61

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
2.10 1.53
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.28 0.93
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.33 1.09
2-PT FG% 52.3% 48.7%
3-PT FG% 36.8% 29.4%
FT% 85.0% 80.0%
True Shooting % 58.5% 50.5%
Mizzou OU
Assists 17 10
Steals 9 3
Turnovers 7 18
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.71 0.72
Mizzou OU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 12
Offensive Rebounds 14 10
Difference +2 -2

"Either a Five-Point Game or a 25-Point Game"

I said in Friday's preview that "if Mizzou can't make some shots, settle into their press, and force Oklahoma out of their intended game, then this could be a slog."  And for a while, it was.  With Mizzou's starters missing shots and just appearing out of sync early on, the game played right into Oklahoma's hands.  But then the symbiotic relationship between the Mizzou offense and defense presented itself again -- Mizzou started shooting better and, consequently, forcing more turnovers.  And Oklahoma stopped making shots.  A couple of spurts of turnovers later, Mizzou had a comfortable double-digit lead.  And in the end, they almost got the 25-point margin at which I had hinted.

Third-Round Flurry

We've discussed quite a bit how Mizzou games play out differently at home and on the road.  The refs call things differently, different players play well, etc.  But perhaps the most well-defined difference between home and road games are as follows: at home, Mizzou wins the third round.  By now, you probably know of my omnipresent, persistent-to-the-point-of-annoying boxing references, so you probably know what I am talking about; but just in case you don't, each four-minute segment of the game between TV timeouts is one "round" of a ten-round fight.  The third round (roughly the 12:00 to 8:00 mark of the first half) is when Mike Anderson sends in the subs to get the starters some rest and soften up the opponent.  During Mizzou's 2008-09 run, the 'second string' of Marcus Denmon, Keith Ramsey, Laurence Bowers, Miguel Paul, etc., did great things in the 'third round,' and it typically led to Mizzou going on a run against a worn out opponent late in the first half.

At home, this still typically happens.  It certainly happened yesterday -- Ricky Kreklow banked in a 3-pointer, Kreklow and Mike Dixon got some steals and layups (though Dixon's was blocked), Steve Moore blocked a shot, knocked in two lay-ups, and grabbed an offensive rebound; in all, Mizzou's bench made up the deficit created by the slow-starting starters.  On the road, the bench may be a liability, and the third round might be where the home team makes a run, but at Mizzou Arena, things typically work out just fine.  And guys like Kreklow and Moore were quite fun to watch.

By the way ... congrats to Kreklow for getting the monkey off of his back and actually making some shots!

Ball Control

When Mizzou's BCI is over 5x better than their opponent's and they win the expected rebounds battle by four ... yeah, they're going to win more often than not.  Great work from Justin Safford and Laurence Bowers on the offensive glass, great pick-pocket work from the Brothers Pressey.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 12.3 0.56 22 Min, 16 Pts (4-9 FG, 3-6 3PT, 5-6 FT), 4 Reb, 2 TO
Laurence Bowers 11.9 0.44 27 Min, 8 Pts (4-8 FG), 9 Reb (4 Off), 2 Ast
Justin Safford 10.8 0.49 22 Min, 11 Pts (5-8 FG, 1-2 FT), 6 Reb (4 Off)
Ricardo Ratliffe 9.1 0.48 19 Min, 13 Pts (4-8 FG, 0-1 3PT, 5-6 FT), 2 Reb
Phil Pressey 8.8 0.38 23 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 2-3 3PT), 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Reb, 2 TO
Marcus Denmon 8.7 0.62 14 Min, 9 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb
Ricky Kreklow 7.9 0.56 14 Min, 7 Pts (3-4 FG, 1-2 3PT), 2 Ast
Steve Moore 6.2 0.44 14 Min, 6 Pts (3-4 FG, 0-1 3PT), 3 Reb (2 Off)
Matt Pressey 5.0 0.23 22 Min, 2 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 Stl
Kim English 1.5 0.07 22 Min, 6 Pts (2-10 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb
Jarrett Sutton 0.8 0.76 1 Min, 1 Ast
  • So Laurence Bowers has been involved in two incidents involving stray elbows in the last couple of weeks ... and Mizzou has ended up worse off because of both of them?  After saying hi to Tristan Thompson's elbow a while back in Austin, Bowers followed through on a block attempt and caught Marcus Denmon right in the nose.  Clearly it didn't cost Mizzou much -- though his per-minute totals suggest he'd have ended up atop the Trifecta if he'd played another 10 minutes, Mizzou did still win by 23 without him -- but still.  That's not the type of luck I'm looking for.
  • Mike Dixon's defense was lacking at times, but his offense was stellar.  He took over as the primary shooting guard when Denmon met Bowers' razor-sharp elbow, and he looked great down the stretch (as he typically does at home).  As has been mentioned ad nauseum here, Dixon and Phil Pressey's size and tendencies do not lend themselves to defensive strength the same way previous Mizzou guards' have, but they do make up for it on offense quite often.
  • Mizzou's four primary bigs: 82 minutes, 38 points (16-for-28 FG, 6-8 FT), 20 rebounds (11 offensive).  First, notice that they combined for more than 80 minutes ... meaning at least three of them were on the court a couple of times (I don't remember when).  Mike Anderson clearly felt his team had the size advantage yesterday, and they utilized it considerably.
  • Ricky!  Little Kreklow came through with seven points, made a couple of layups and, with help from the bank, knocked in his first 3-pointer of conference play.  His shot is so pretty, and you have to figure he ends up just fine from long range by the end of his career, but in the present tense it was getting difficult to justify him receiving much playing time.  He played 14 great minutes yesterday afternoon.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Mike Dixon 31% 39% 3.1 27% 41% 23% 9%
Laurence Bowers 15% 50% 2.3 60% 40% 0% 0%
Justin Safford 20% 54% 1.4 0% 83% 17% 0%
Ricardo Ratliffe 28% 47% 2.2 0% 61% 39% 0%
Phil Pressey 13% 41% 3.2 75% 17% 0% 8%
Marcus Denmon 25% 50% 3.0 43% 37% 13% 7%
Ricky Kreklow 15% 76% 3.5 75% 25% 0% 0%
Steve Moore 18% 58% 2.4 54% 37% 0% 9%
Matt Pressey 11% 37% 5.0 84% 8% 5% 3%
Kim English 25% 25% 2.5 33% 57% 10% 0%
Jarrett Sutton 0% N/A N/A 100% 0% 0% 0%
  • With Mike Dixon logging minutes at the 2-guard, it seems Matt Pressey took his spot at point.  Matt and Phil were both at 75% Pass or better.
  • I love seeing no Tigers in double-digit %TO.
  • I love seeing four Tigers in double-digit %Fouled.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.


In flurries, Mizzou swarmed successfully.  And, since I'm watching Meldrick Taylor-Buddy McGirt '88 on ESPN Classic as I watch this, I can tell you ... flurries win you fights.  If there was a knockout blow in this one, it was of the "Oklahoma's eyes are puffing up, and it hasn't landed a punch in two rounds, so the ref is stepping in -- TKO 9th" variety, but it worked.

It's funny -- I almost struggle to write about games like this and last week's Colorado win because they almost follow the same script.  It's like Mad Libs.  _______ (Lesser road team) hangs around for a while, but ______ (Bench Player A) does something fun, and _______ (Starter B) does something great, Mizzou swarmswarmswarmswarmswarms, and suddenly they have a comfortable lead.  The second half sees a short offensive lull because of _______ (random cause of energy lag) that briefly allows the opponent back into the game, but _______ (Starter C) does something great, and Mizzou wins easily.  It's not boring, obviously -- winning by 23 is never boring -- but taking any major conclusions from it, good or bad, becomes difficult after a while.  A good difficult ... but difficult.

Yesterday's answers to fill in the blanks: Oklahoma, Ricky Kreklow (or Mike Dixon), Marcus Denmon, Denmon catching an elbow from Bowers and sucking the life out of the arena, Ricardo Ratliffe.

The Young Guys Running the Show

For Mizzou, the point guard position is occupied by a freshman (Phil Pressey) and a sophomore (Mike Dixon). Oklahoma is in the same boat -- sophomore Carl Blair and freshman Calvin Newell. Stats suggest Mizzou should win this battle comfortably, especially at home. But if they don't -- if Mizzou is unable to effectively pressure Blair and Newell into mistakes, and if they are unable to prevent penetration and, therefore, fouls and open 3-pointers -- then Oklahoma will be in this game all the way to the end.

Phil Pressey & Mike Dixon: 45 minutes, 22 points (6-13 FG, 5-9 3PT, 5-6 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 4 turnovers (2.00 BCI)

Carl Blair & Calvin Newell: 39 minutes, 6 points (3-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-0 FT), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 6 turnovers (0.83 BCI).

Carl Blair was great on the glass for Oklahoma, but otherwise Mizzou dominated this matchup like we had to figure they would.  Pressey and Dixon typically put up a better BCI than 2.00 in these types of wins, but as mentioned above, Dixon was more of a shooting guard yesterday and finished with a lower-than-normal assist total.  The four steals were great, and you could see Blair's effectiveness fading after the opening 10-12 minutes.

Kim English

Yeah, swing and a miss by me on this one ... yet again.  Missouri obviously didn't need Kimmeh yesterday, so no harm, no foul.  Plus ... he gets some bonus points for the incredible bounce pass he delivered to Ricardo Ratliffe for a fast break dunk early in the second half.  Still ... that was his only assist, and he logged nothing else in the box score besides three defensive rebounds and six points on 2-for-10 shooting.  His 1.5 AdjGS points dropped him to a measly 0.32 per minute for the season, the same as Matt Pressey.  He is 22% off of his 0.41/minute pace from last year, and he is actually bringing less to the table (on a per minute basis) than he did as a freshman.  He has logged double-digit AdjGS points just three times in ten conference games and, more worrisome, has logged 2.0 AdjGS points or fewer in three of the last four games.  He is (surprisingly) shooting 38.3% from 3-point range ... but just 35.8% on 2-pointers.  He looks confident and looks like he could catch fire any moment ... but he has been producing at a lower and lower level.  As long as he plays the defense Mike Anderson requires (and I really am willing to believe that his non-box score contributions are still strong and good for this team), he should hold off Matt Pressey in terms of overall playing time, but ... considering I said a week ago that Missouri's ceiling will be defined by English's February play ... yeah, not feeling great about that at the moment.

In all honestly, Marcus Denmon is providing the overall production we thought we might get from Kim English this year -- 16 PPG, 4 RPG, 2 APG, plus a couple of steals to boot.  We're getting the production from Ricardo Ratliffe (12 PPG, 6.5 RPG), Laurence Bowers (11 PPG, 6 RPG) and Mike Dixon (10 PPG, 4 APG, 2 SPG) that we might have expected as well.  Plus, Phil Pressey (7 PPG, 4 APG) is coming on quite strong.  If Mizzou has achieved at a lower level than we might have expected this season thus far (and if they have, it's only a degree or two lower, not Michigan State-level lower), it's because of two factors: 1) we underestimated the degree of the occasional defensive regression this team might suffer without Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller, and 2) though Denmon is giving us the expected English numbers, English is not giving us the expected Denmon numbers.  In fact, he is giving us almost exactly what Denmon gave us last year (10 PPG, 3 RPG), only with much, much less efficient shooting.  There's still time for Lord Baltimore to turn things around ever so slightly, but I get less optimistic by the day.  Mizzou can still achieve at a high level with this version of Kimmeh ... but I'm still holding out fading hope that he will take a step forward and bump Mizzou's ceiling up by a couple of notches.


Dominate the ball, out-rebound your opponent, shoot reasonably well, watch the Mizzou Arena version of Mike Dixon take over for a few minutes ... and voila, yet another easy home win.  We will hopefully get to watch an eerily similar version of this game take place Tuesday night against Texas Tech, then it's off to Ames on Saturday.  It's easy to be negative about Mizzou's road performance, and it's easy to worry about Kim English, but despite the worries ... Mizzou could be a relatively gaudy 21-6 a week from now, and if they handle their business in Ames and against Baylor at home (yes, that game is tougher than it looked a few weeks ago, but it's still at home), then they'll be 22-6 heading to Manhattan.  That's not bad considering a) there is one senior on this team, b) the team's five-star stud (and part of the reason people were ranking Mizzou so high in the preseason) never qualified, and c) the team's preseason Naismith watch lister hasn't played at a Naismith level.  Lots of fun, easy, boring-to-write-about home games on the horizon, both in this season and next year.



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.