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Study Hall: Missouri 76, Iowa State 69

Your Trifecta: MPressey-Ratliffe-STEEEEEEEEVE

Mizzou was in foul trouble, Royce White was asserting himself, and Iowa State was making stupid, "only on the road" shots like Scotty Christopherson's 60-footer at the end of the first half and a 30-foot end-of-shot-clock prayer in the second half. The crowd was into it, ISU had rendered Marcus Denmon invisible, and with 11 minutes left, the odds seemed stacked against Mizzou. (To that point, no ISU fans had any reason to throw bottles/chew at Mizzou players.)

Against a hot ISU offense and a hotter crowd, Mizzou did the one thing they could do to win: score on (almost) every possession. Over a six-minute span from the 11-minute mark to the five-minute mark, Mizzou scored on eight of ten possessions. Despite ISU doing well offensively, Mizzou's lead expanded from 49-48 to 66-58. After a mini-drought (a turnover by Matt Pressey, an offensive foul by Ricardo Ratliffe and a missed 3-pointer by Mike Dixon), Mizzou scored on each of its final five possessions. ISU elected not to foul, hoping instead to stop Mizzou with their defense; they could not. Kim English made a clutch jumper with 2:18 left, Ricardo Ratliffe made a gorgeous turnaround with 1:21 left, Phil Pressey milked the shot-clock then found Ratliffe with a no-look pass for an easy layup (a repeat of the Illinois game), and Marcus Denmon made four free throws. Ballgame.

Mizzou has played four games that were at least relatively close late in the game.

  • Villanova: Mizzou led 68-62 with 5:03 remaining. They scored on their next three possessions to expand the lead to 12 points, then made six of eight free throws to ice the game away.
  • Illinois: Mizzou trailed 70-68 with 2:02 remaining. They scored on their final five possessions and won, 78-74.
  • Old Dominion: Mizzou trailed 67-65 with 1:59 remaining. They scored on five of their final six possessions and won, 75-68.
  • Iowa State: Mizzou led 66-61 with 2:41 remaining. They scored on their final five possessions and won, 76-69.

We know all about this team's limitations. A couple of them (depth, occasional troubles with perimeter defense) reared their ugly heads yesterday. Certain teams (Baylor, Kansas State) are going to have serious matchup advantages over Mizzou because of these weaknesses. But there's something to be said for knowing your team is going to execute in the clutch.

Missouri 76, Iowa State 69

Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.3
Points Per Minute 1.90
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.16
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.27
2-PT FG% 66.7%
3-PT FG% 23.8%
FT% 75.0%
True Shooting % 58.2%

Mizzou ISU
Assists 20
Steals 6
Turnovers 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO

Mizzou ISU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10
Offensive Rebounds 11
Difference +1

Iowa State shot 12-for-23 on 3-pointers and fouled two Mizzou players out. But Mizzou won anyway because a) they were awesome, awesome, on the glass, b) their defense was tight inside the 3-point line, c) Iowa State can't shoot free throws, and d) Mizzou passed brilliantly well. Pass well, rebound well, win road games.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Matt Pressey
34 Min, 14 Pts (5-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4-4 FT), 3 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe
24 Min, 12 Pts (6-8 FG), 8 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 4 PF
Steve Moore
16 Min, 10 Pts (5-6 FG), 9 Reb (5 Off), 2 TO, 5 PF
Marcus Denmon
35 Min, 6 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-4 FT), 7 Ast, 4 Reb
Phil Pressey
35 Min, 12 Pts (5-12 FG, 2-6 3PT), 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 TO
Kim English
28 Min, 10 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-4 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 5 PF
Mike Dixon
28 Min, 12 Pts (5-14 FG, 2-7 3PT), 2 Reb
  • With Chris Babb playing outstanding ball-denial defense against Marcus Denmon, Mizzou needed everybody else on the team to step up offensively. How does "everybody else scored in double digits, even Steve More" sound? Good?
  • Ricardo Ratliffe has absurd field goal percentages, in part, because he gets a lot of easy looks, either via putbacks or great passing. But there was a decent degree of difficulty attached to some of his six field goals yesterday. He is absolutely deadly with his little turnaround bank shot from the left block. And he threw in back-to-back-to-back assists on three early second-half possessions (two to Phil Pressey, one to Matt Pressey) to keep Mizzou going offensively.
  • With the way teams are choosing to defend Missouri (deny Denmon and English at all costs), the Presseys are going to have open shots. They absolutely have to make them, and last night they did. They combined to shoot 10-for-20 and score 26 points, and they threw in eight assists and two steals to four turnovers. Flip was incredibly shaky early on, with two turnovers and three missed jumpers in the first ten minutes. But he was fantastic the rest of the way.
  • Kim English committed two turnovers and five fouls (well, he only "committed" about three fouls, but I won't go down that road), but all four of his field goals were absolutely huge. Just enormous. His stats didn't measure up, but I loved the game he played. And of course, if "charges drawn" were a line in the box score, Kimmeh would have probably been in the Trifecta.
  • Marcus Denmon barely touches the ball, takes almost no shots in the second half ... and then calmly knocks down the four game-clinching free throws.
  • Mike Dixon: 11-for-32 from the field, 3-for-13 on 3-pointers in three road games. We're still in "small sample size" territory here, but yikes.
  • While we're at it, here are the AdjGS/game averages for Mizzou's three road games: Denmon 18.1, Ratliffe 11.8, M. Pressey 10.6, English 9.7, P. Pressey 7.5, Moore 6.0, Dixon 4.7. Four players are averaging at least 11.2 per game at home (against "real" teams), and only two are on the road. Yesterday was certainly a step forward, however.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
M. Pressey
P. Pressey

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (Nope.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Yes!)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Yes!)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Nope.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Not even close.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Yes!)

Four-for-seven. Good enough, I guess, even if Denmon was denied and Mike Dixon was in no way a point guard. With Denmon dishing seven assists, Dixon's role changed a bit, I guess.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

Foul Trouble

Neither ISU nor Mizzou have committed many fouls this season, and only one player really draws any fouls for ISU. But White could single-handedly take out a good portion of Mizzou's seven-man rotation. If Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore get into foul trouble, then this game takes on a completely different tenor.

Ratliffe (24 minutes, four fouls) and Moore (16 minutes, five fouls) were very much hindered by foul trouble, and the team's third "big," Kim English, was as well. But Frank Haith was masterful in his rotations, and Ratliffe avoided his fifth foul at the end, so we didn't have to see Andrew Jones enter the game with two minutes left. (I did love the idea of a Hack-A-Royce-White strategy, however. That guy was just dreadful from the free throw line.)

While we're at it, though, I'm going to say this. I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I don't care. The way the definition of a foul changes throughout the course of a single basketball game infuriates me more than any official activity in any sport. I hate that flopping is rewarded in soccer. I hate the way holding is selectively called in football, and I hate that the five-yard incidental face mask penalty was dumped. I hate that I still don't know what a penalty is, and isn't, in hockey. But nothing compares to the fact that something is a foul with 16 minutes left in the first half, then isn't with seven minutes left, then is again at the beginning of the second half, then really isn't down the stretch. If it's a foul, it's a foul.

Here is a breakdown from last night:

First 7:10 of the first half: 10 fouls
Rest of the first half: six fouls

First 6:13 of the second half: nine fouls
Next seven minutes: two fouls
Next 3:25: five fouls
Final 3:22 (with ISU fouling at the end): four fouls

I don't say this in a "Mizzou got screwed" kind of way. In the end, the calls evened out. But that's not why I bring this up. I bring it up because

Does play get more and less physical over the course of a game? Absolutely. Does it get THIS much more and less physical? Absolutely not. To me, a ref's job is to decide what is or isn't a foul and call it the same. A referee isn't a conductor, orchestrating crescendos at certain points. When you see a foul, you call it, and it's a foul 15 seconds into the game, 20 minutes into the game, and with 15 seconds left in the game.

(I say all this knowing that basketball is the single hardest sport in the world to officiate. It is infinitely worse than soccer, football, hockey ... anything. It is the one sport I refused to ref when I was an intramural official. I get it, really I do. You could call a foul on every possession if you want to, and there is absolutely a degree of artistic control to being a basketball ref. Just call it the same over the course of 40 minutes. That's all I ask.)

From Way Downtown

Iowa State has four guys who can kill you from long range, and Missouri has three (Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Mike Dixon). Who gets hot?

Who gets hot? Well, at one point, the entire Iowa State team. Chris Babb, Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson combined to make 11 of 21 3's for the game. Bad defense led to a 3-pointer. Good defense led to a 3-pointer. Smart shots went in, and stupid shots went in. Meanwhile, not a single Mizzou player made even half of his 3's. Phil Pressey came the closest at 2-for-6. Denmon and English combined to go 1-for-6. And Mizzou won anyway.

The Keys To Every Road Game

Mizzou has only played two road games this year, 2.5 if you include Illinois. And in these 2.5 games, Mizzou has two specific categories rise to uncomfortable levels: their opponent's offensive rebounds and Phil Pressey's turnovers. Mizzou has not been able to match what appears to be a higher level of effort from opponents outside of the state of Missouri, and when they begin to struggle, Pressey tries a little too hard to make up the ground. Watch these two numbers, and you can probably figure out who won.

Phil Pressey: 35 minutes, 12 points (on 12 FG attempts), five assists, one steal, two turnovers.
Expected Rebounding Margin: Mizzou +5

Flip was atrocious for 10 minutes and great for 25, and Mizzou dominated on the glass. Winner, winner.


No matter what your goals are for Mizzou's season, yesterday was an enormous game. And despite so much going against them, they won anyway. Road games are simply going to be like this, especially as long as Mizzou is a highly-ranked team. Iowa State was firing haymakers all game, and Mizzou simply stayed patience, withstood the barrage, and then pounced when the Cyclones punched themselves out. This was a miserable game with a happy outcome. More, please.


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.