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Study Hall: Texas A&M

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Your Trifecta: Denmon-PPressey-English.  Your winner: nobody.  No Mizzou fan won last night?  Seems fitting.

Texas A&M 86, Mizzou 71

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
Points Per Possession (PPP)
Points Per Shot (PPS)
2-PT FG% 39.0%
3-PT FG% 20.0%
FT% 81.1%
True Shooting % 49.1%

Mizzou A&M
Assists 10
Steals 12
Turnovers 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO

Mizzou A&M
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14
Offensive Rebounds 12
Difference -2

Tell Me Why SBN Lets Me Write For Them Again?

I sometimes pound my chest when I get things right, and with very good reason: sometimes I'm horribly, horribly wrong.  Case in point: yesterday's "Know Your Rival" piece.

Shooting is a complete push.

Not so much.

Want to find out who won?  Look at total possessions, free throws and rebounds.

The game was played much closer to Mizzou's pace than A&M's, Mizzou amazingly shot three more free throws than A&M, and in the end, A&M only outrebounded Mizzou by two in terms of expected boards.  And A&M won by 15.

I do not think there will be much hangover from last night.  That's more of a fan thing than a players thing, I think.  The game did not go to overtime, Mizzou survived, they all got good sleep last night (presumably), they're all 19-22 years old ... they'll be fine.

Instead, Mizzou played like they were on the fourth game in four days. No legs on the jumper, about four steps slow on defense. Kim English said they "quit" after the game, but I didn't really see that ... I saw a bunch of players whose faces showed that how badly they wanted to be trying hard, and whose legs would not let that happen.  They seemed to care, but they didn't have the ability/know-how/whatever to actually do the right thing.

(Make no mistake: I don't want to seem like I'm blaming everything simply on legs or freshness ... but the legs and freshness certainly weren't there, that's for sure.)

Almost Doubled Up

A&M shot 62.1% on 2-point shots, Mizzou 39.0%.  Obviously you saw this yourself in the table above, but ... Sweet Jesus!  I mean ... 39.0% isn't really even that amazing for 3-point shooting.

Man oh man, does A&M own Mizzou.

When Opponents Shoot Really, Really Well, Mizzou Loses ... Probably By a Lot

This statement was brought to you by the University of Phoenix School of Obvious Statements Are Obvious.  Texas A&M's 71.7% true shooting percentage was the second-highest Mizzou has allowed this year.  Here are the six times Mizzou has allowed 60% TS or higher ... and the results associated with each game.

  • vs Georgetown (11/30): 72.2% TS, 1.37 points per possession, nine-point Mizzou loss.
  • vs Texas A&M (3/10): 71.7% TS, 1.24 points per possession, 15-point Mizzou loss.
  • at Kansas (2/7): 70.2% TS, 1.47 points per possession, 17-point Mizzou loss.
  • at Kansas State (2/26): 62.0% TS, 1.19 points per possession, 10-point Mizzou loss.
  • at Nebraska (3/1): 60.4% TS, 1.08 points per possession, 11-point Mizzou loss.
  • at Texas A&M (1/15): 60.1% TS, 1.27 points per possession, two-point Mizzou loss.

The silver lining?  This means Mizzou is 23-4 when allowing under 60.0% TS.  Which is ... something.  Mizzou's NCAA Tournament opponent next Thursday or Friday is rather likely to be a 7-, 8-, 9- or 10-seed ... and of the six opponents on the above list, only one (Nebraska) is likely to be lower than a 6-7 seed in the Tournament.  In other words, Mizzou's first-round opponent is unlikely to be offensively proficient enough to shoot 60% in terms of true shooting percentage.

So Mizzou's got THAT going for them...

Hey, speaking of silver linings...

Four More Reasons This Game Wasn't As Bad As You Think

Because I want to be at least one percent optimistic heading into the NCAA Tournament, I'm going to force myself to be positive about last night's stinker.  The "Mizzou is unlikely to face a great shooting team in Round One" statement above is Reason No. 1 why things aren't as bad as they seem.  Here are four more.

2. Mizzou is Manufacturing Points.  This really is a lovely development.  For all the things Mizzou did wrong yesterday, they still scored 71 points and averaged over a point per possession because they have become much more successful at forcing the issue and drawing contact in the last three games.  Despite playing from behind from the opening tip, Mizzou drew more fouls (26 to 25) and shot more free throws (37 to 34) than an ATM team that seemed to have the fouls advantage heading into the game.

For the season, Mizzou has shot 0.34 free throws per field goal attempt.  In the last three games: 0.52 (95 free throw attempts, 181 field goal attempts).  Granted, the 74 fouls they've drawn have been a bit negated by the 71 they have committed, but ... even that's an improvement.  In the three games before the last three, Mizzou committed 58 fouls and drew just 40.  Led by Mike Dixon and Kim English (and certainly supplemented by Marcus Denmon), Mizzou is getting to the line and assuring that they're going to put points on the board even when the jumpers aren't falling.

And the jumpers certainly weren't falling yesterday.  When A&M played average defense, it resulted in a bad-looking shot.  When A&M played good defense, it resulted in a terrible-looking shot.

3. The Effort Never Went Away.  Clearly the effort was, um, misguided (i.e. it didn't translate into anything resembling good defense) ... but rebounding stats and steals show that Mizzou never stopped trying.  After a first half in which A&M grabbed four offensive rebounds on just seven missed field goal attempts, Mizzou shut things down much better in the second half.  Granted, A&M wasn't missing enough shots for it to actually matter, and granted, Mizzou's defense was downright putrid, but ... again, this is a list of positives.  So stop being negative, mmm-kay?

4. We Might Be Seeing "Kim English, Leader."  We have no idea how the team will react -- and for all we know, it could be in a negative way -- but Kim English was extremely harsh on the team after last night's game, saying "For the first time in my however many games here, I thought we quit."  Now ... Anderson, English's teammates, and the stats I referenced above says they didn't necessarily quit ... but I'm not so much worried about the details.  Looking toward next season, the one thing I absolutely want to see from this team is senior leadership -- Mizzou will have six seniors, and while Marcus Denmon is clearly a "lead by example" guy, and Laurence Bowers is too ... I want to know that there's a DeMarre Carroll-style, words-and-deeds leader.  Obviously Kimmeh is the main candidate, and if calling his team out after a game like that is what is necessary (especially after a game in which Kimmeh was throwing his body around, diving onto the floor for loose balls, etc.), then I'm glad he gave it a shot.

Of course, his criticism was not in any way artfully worded, and if the team chemistry is affected by such a statement, then it could backfire ... but a) I don't see that happening, and b) positivity!!

5. We've Seen All the Pieces. As mentioned in comments after the Kansas game ... Mizzou may not be playing well right now, but at least we've seen evidence that Missouri can play well in all aspects of the game.  We've seen the offense click (14 games at 1.15 points per possession or higher), we've seen the defense play at least reasonably well (0.94 points per possession against Kansas at home, 0.87 versus Baylor, 0.97 versus Colorado, 0.63 versus Iowa State, 0.90 versus Kansas State ... all at home, granted), we've seen this team rebound well (A&M I, Old Dominion, KSU I, etc.), and we've seen this team play at a really high level overall (they were, after all, ranked all season).  And unlike even the vaunted 2008-09 season, we haven't seen them lay a complete and total egg.  (Yes, Nebraska and Oklahoma State were close, but those were still only six- and 11-point losses.)  In all, they've only lost one game by more than 15 points.  In 2009-10, they lost two by that margin.  In 2008-09, they lost three.

In other words, while this team may not be putting together the pieces for a true NCAA Tourney run (and even if they did, having to play a 1- or 2-seed in the second round would likely cut that run short), they still have some things going for them, and they're probably not going to completely embarrass themselves.  So they've got that going for them too...which is nice.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon
34 Min, 22 Pts (6-11 FG, 3-5 3PT, 7-11 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 2 Stl
Phil Pressey
26 Min, 9 Pts (2-9 FG, 0-3 3PT, 5-5 FT), 6 Stl, 5 Ast, 4 Reb, 4 TO
Kim English
25 Min, 12 Pts (2-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 8-10 FT), 2 Ast
Laurence Bowers
31 Min, 13 Pts (4-10 FG, 5-5 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO, 4 PF
Ricardo Ratliffe
22 Min, 6 Pts (2-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb, 4 PF
Steve Moore
15 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 3 Reb, 2 Blk, 4 PF
Mike Dixon
14 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-2 3PT)
Matt Pressey
16 Min, 3 Pts (0-1 FG, 3-4 FT), 2 TO
Justin Safford
11 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-1 3PT)
Ricky Kreklow
5 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG), 2 Reb (2 Off)
Jarrett Sutton
1 Min
  • Marcus Denmon: stat-padder extraordinaire.
  • Nobody needs this offseason to come faster than Ricky Kreklow.  The rationale for calling him "Nuke" was that when he was in the game, something crazy was going to happen, good or bad.  For most of 2011, it's been almost all bad, sans the Oklahoma game.  Last night, despite two offensive rebounds, it was really bad.  I'm very, very ready for both Nuke and Flip to not be freshmen anymore.
  • Another positive: six steals for Flip.  He still managed a 2.50 BCI despite four turnovers.  That's pretty good, even though he still hasn't found the jumper he misplaced a few games ago.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
P. Pressey
M. Pressey

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

Heat Check

Between Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon and Phil Pressey (and I guess Kim English) for Mizzou, and Khris Middleton and B.J. Holmes for A&M, this game will feature lots of players who can get hot at a moment's notice.  Whichever of these players can carry their team's scoring load for the longest period of time will put themselves in very good position to make the semis.

B.J. Holmes: 4-for-6 on 3-pointers.  Denmon, Dixon, Pressey and English: 3-for-12.  Throw in 20 points on eight field goal attempts from David Loubeau, and I think we know who was hot and who wasn't.

Play Your Game

A&M plays slow, draws fouls and crashes the boards.  Mizzou plays fast and controls the ball.  Want to find out who won?  Look at total possessions, free throws and rebounds.

As mentioned above, these factors actually somewhat favored Mizzou.  Whoops.


I always hate putting this one on here, but ... let's face it: Bowers, Ratliffe, Moore and Safford have all faced serious foul issues in recent games.  If A&M is able to thin Mizzou's bigs out and hit the glass even harder, Mizzou is in trouble.  And if Dixon and English are driving to contact and attacking and aren't getting the calls, I'm not sure how they score enough points to win.

I was 100000% unimpressed with the officiating, but that's because I'm 100000% unimpressed with most officiating.  Mizzou's bigs did indeed get into foul trouble, but to Mizzou's credit, they did what they could to get A&M into foul trouble as well.  In the end, this game was decided by the fact that, for a long portion of the game, Mizzou couldn't make a jumper, and A&M couldn't miss.

In other words, only one of the three Keys was even remotely a factor in the game.  Go me.


Positivity!  Watch a bunch of other teams play basketball this weekend, join us for Selection Sunday, then find your last reserves of hope for the tourney.  We know all the reasons to be negative about this team ... but negativity's no 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.