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Study Hall: Nebraska

Your Trifecta: Denmon-Bowers-Dixon.  Your winner: nobody.  Which is fitting.

We're going to make this short and sweet.

There are numbers after the jump if you're interested, but this is the only piece of commentary I'm going to make.

This was the second game this season in which I was truly and completely disappointed.  The other -- Oklahoma State -- could be blamed, at least a bit, on ridiculous travel trouble (anytime it takes you two days to get where you're going, you probably aren't going to be amazingly sharp).  Missouri is 30 games through the season now, and the fact that they were able to play their worst game of the season now is, in and of itself, cause for alarm.  In each of the past three seasons, they haven't played their best in the final week before the conference tournament, but to me, at least, this was possibly a new level.  (Then again, I probably didn't enjoy the 25-point whipping Kansas laid on Missouri two years ago either. That ended up alright.)

At one point midway through the second half, I had the following thoughts poke through my head in a short sequence:

* "God, Ratliffe is awful tonight ... put in ... uh ... hmm."
* "God, English is awful tonight ... put in ... uh ... hmm."
* "God, Safford is awful tonight ... put in ... uh ... hmm."

Never mind that this shows how much I don't trust Missouri's bench away from home, and never mind that said bench is as hit-or-miss as it was in early-January.  (For those screaming to bench Kimmie, note that Kreklow was, on a per-minute basis, worse last night.)  That's a junior, junior, and senior I was wanting yanked from the game.  Almost no player is always good to great, but three of this team's leaders still cannot be counted on to just not be awful.  (They combined for minus-4.9 AdjGS points last night.)  In March.  Throw in Matt Pressey's incredible disappearing act (0.14 AdjGS/min in the last five games) and Mike Anderson's obvious distrust for putting Steve Moore in important situations, and you've got only two of your seven upperclassmen (Denmon and Bowers) who contributed anything in two late-season road games.

Let's get this out of the way before I go any further:  1) This team is not on the NCAA bubble.  They would have to lose the next two games AND see a ton of other bubble teams get hot for that to even enter the conversation.  2) This season is not over.  This team team still has plenty to play for, and I don't think anybody here would be too surprised if they made the Sweet Sixteen, which is what most of us felt was a rather realistic goal at the beginning of the season.  (We hoped for more than that, but I think we more or less expected Sweet 16, especially without Mitchell -- and whatever he was capable of providing -- qualifying.)  But disappearing acts like last night's destroy your resume.  Instead of a 4-6 seed, Mizzou is threatening to sink to an 8 or 9.  In fact, knowing how much the committee tends to view road wins, I think Missouri needs to beat Kansas and win at least one game, maybe two, in the Big 12 tourney to have any chance at anything better than a seven right now.

When you can't register a Top 6 seed, you end up playing a 1 or 2 in the second round.  And your odds of making the second weekend are limited drastically.  I'm not giving up on this season, but last night's play considerably decreased Missouri's odds of anything resembling a friendly NCAA Tournament draw.  And that sucks.  Your tourney performance dictates how fans view the season to a great degree -- just look at last year's team, which most likely ended up with a worse tourney seed than this one will get, but played great in round one and solid in round two and is now looked upon favorably -- and while Mizzou could still put some polish and positivity on this season, the going is now a little tougher.

That's all for now.  I think it's lazy to say this team "quit" like Mike Dearmond did last night (quitting is not the same as lacking leadership, not knowing where to turn for a bucket, and eventually caving), but they certainly screwed themselves quite a bit.  This team isn't "terrible," they aren't going to miss the NCAA Tournament, they aren't "a bunch of losers" -- you probably shouldn't say anything you might want to take back if Missouri beats a certain rival to the west in a little over three days -- but they did play rudderless, near-leaderless ball last night, and it was not fun to watch.  They still have time to make up for it, and let's hope they do just that.

Nebraska 69, Mizzou 58

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
1.45 1.73
Points Per Possession (PPP)
0.91 1.08
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.05 1.47
2-PT FG% 39.4% 58.8%
3-PT FG% 45.5% 38.5%
FT% 50.0% 60.9%
True Shooting % 51.1% 60.4%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 16 17
Steals 9 8
Turnovers 17 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.47 1.47
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 9
Offensive Rebounds 9 11
Difference -3 +2

Okay, one more small piece of commentary: defense was not the problem last night.  It was pretty bad over the final 10 minutes or so, but a) Mizzou still forced 17 turnovers in approximately 64 possessions (27%), and b) this was just the second time all season that Mizzou averaged fewer than 0.98 points per possession on offense (the other time: Texas, 0.87).  As with the 1999 football team (because we're always bringing it back to football), the defense finally began to cave once the offense proved it wasn't going to do a damn thing, but in a season where (believe it or not) the offense has been rather stable, things completely fell apart last night.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 20.2 0.78 26 Min, 19 Pts (7-11 FG, 5-5 3PT), 2 Reb, 4 PF
Laurence Bowers 15.6 0.60 26 Min, 10 Pts (5-8 FG), 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk
Mike Dixon 15.3 0.70 22 Min, 11 Pts (4-7 FG, 3-4 3PT), 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 TO
Phil Pressey 7.3 0.29 25 Min, 5 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-4 3PT), 5 Ast, 3 Reb, 3 Stl, 4 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 5.2 0.15 34 Min, 6 Pts (3-7 FG, 0-1 3PT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO
Matt Pressey 1.9 0.12 16 Min, 3 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 Stl, 2 TO
Steve Moore 0.5 0.09 5 Min, 0 Pts
Ricky Kreklow -4.0 -0.44 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG)
Kim English -4.9 -0.21 23 Min, 4 Pts (1-9 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 Ast, 2 TO
Justin Safford -5.2 -0.37 14 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-2 3PT)
  • Kim English on the road in Big 12 play: 2.7 AdjGS/game (0.10/min), 6.6 PPG (21.6% 2PT, 28.6% 3PT, 68.4% FT), 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2.1 TOPG.
  • Mizzou's "bench" (Safford, Kreklow, Moore, M. Pressey) on the road in Big 12 play: 7.7 AdjGS/game, 6.8 of which come from M. Pressey.  (At home: 12.7.)
  • Ricardo Ratliffe in the last five games: 6.9 AdjGS/game (0.29/min), 6.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Denmon 25% 53% 2.1 33% 61% 0% 6%
Bowers 19% 55% 3.2 66% 30% 0% 4%
Dixon 25% 41% 3.9 64% 25% 0% 11%
P. Pressey 22% 30% 4.9 75% 15% 0% 10%
Ratliffe 14% 30% 1.4 40% 47% 0% 13%
M. Pressey 20% 21% 1.8 0% 32% 47% 21%
Moore 0% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Kreklow 12% 0% 0.7 0% 50% 0% 50%
English 28% 16% 3.7 43% 33% 17% 7%
Safford 15% 8% 2.2 60% 30% 0% 10%

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

Mizzou Versus the Long Ball

Mizzou: 10-for-22 on 3-pointers (45.5%)
Nebraska: 5-for-13 (38.5%).

Mizzou Versus Hustle Stats

Expected Rebounds: Mizzou -5
Steals: Mizzou +1

Mizzou Versus Foul Trouble

Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers both picked up two relatively quick fouls in the first half (Denmon in seven minutes, Bowers in about 8-10), and the team completely fell apart.  Nebraska outscored Mizzou 17-7 in the six minutes after Bowers went out.


Kansas on Saturday.  Again, be as critical as you want of this team right now -- they deserve quite a bit of criticism -- but don't say anything you might feel silly about if they beat the Jayhawks.




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.



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