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Study Hall: Kansas State 75, Missouri 59

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Your Trifecta: Denmon-MPressey-Dixon. Your winner: wlwaugh! I didn't expect to have a winner because of M. Pressey's involvement, but I stand corrected. Well done, wlwaugh.

I don't like predicting Missouri losses, and I don't do it very often. But I did so for this game for exactly the reasons I listed in Friday's preview.

They don't go for many steals, they don't shoot free throws well, and as we saw on Wednesday, the offense can certainly dry up in a hurry. But they play a home-friendly style of ball, with plenty of momentum plays (usually based around second-chance points), and they will be a really, really tough out at Bramlage. [...]

I consider myself rather optimistic about the Big 12 season as a whole (though not as optimistic as some), but I am struggling to be too optimistic about this one. Some combination of "never bet against a streak" and "KSU is really good on the offensive glass" has me cowed. Ken Pomeroy has Mizzou pulling this one out, 75-73, but I cannot make myself agree with that. I'll say KSU wins, 72-65, setting up a huge trip to Ames next week.

Granted, I was basically three 3-pointers away on my prediction, but this game played out as a rerun of previous (dreadful) trips to Bramlage. Kansas State is well-built to take advantage of Missouri's weaknesses -- and even while starting 14-0, we've very clearly known about Mizzou's weaknesses -- and they did so. And when it became clear that Missouri's jumpers weren't going to fall, hope was lost. KSU didn't actually kill Mizzou as much as I anticipated with second-chance opportunities (as we see below, they were only plus-2 in terms of expected offensive rebounds), but they completely erased Missouri from the glass, especially in the second half when Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore, as we feared, got into foul trouble.

KSU isn't as good as they looked in the first half, but their well-timed streak of offensive invincibility gave them enough of a cushion that they could easily withstand their inevitable regression toward the offensive mean. At Mizzou Arena, with a different team gaining early momentum, things could swing drastically in the other direction. At least, that's what we hope, right?

Kansas State 75, Missouri 59

Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.9
Points Per Minute 1.48
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.89
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.20
2-PT FG% 36.0%
3-PT FG% 29.2%
FT% 80.0%
True Shooting % 49.2%

Mizzou KSU
Assists 10
Steals 7
Turnovers 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO

Mizzou KSU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12
Offensive Rebounds 7
Difference -5

The full-game numbers don't really tell the tale, do they? Not since the game was basically over at halftime. Let's take a look at first-half-only stats.

FIRST HALF: Kansas State 44, Mizzou 25

Pace (No. of Possessions) 32.9
Points Per Minute 1.25
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.76
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.14
2-PT FG% 18.2%
3-PT FG% 27.3%
FT% 75.0%
True Shooting % 43.0%

Mizzou KSU
Assists 3
Steals 4
Turnovers 9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO

Mizzou KSU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 7
Offensive Rebounds 5
Difference -2

First Half Adj. Scores: Marcus Denmon 27.4, Mike Dixon 8.2, Steve Moore 0.8, Matt Pressey 0.3, Phil Pressey -0.3, Kim English -6.6, Ricardo Ratliffe -9.3. Yuck, yuck, yuck. So basically, Denmon contributed 27 points, the rest of the team contributed minus-2.

Mizzou was reasonably successful on the glass in the first half, but having to focus in that area damaged them by limiting run-out opportunities. Without any sort of easy transition buckets, they had to score in the halfcourt offense, and their length (Jordan Henriquez is basically Ricardo Ratliffe's nightmare matchup) limited Mizzou's open looks to 3-pointers ... and probably not 3-pointers taken by players particularly good at 3-pointers. Denmon went 2-for-4 from long-range, and the rest of the team went 1-for-7. English attempted just one ... three fewer than a consistently wide open Matt Pressey. When Big Pressey and Dixon (0-for-2) couldn't make KSU pay for leaving them open, it was all academic.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon
37 Min, 17 Pts (5-14 FG, 3-9 3PT, 4-4 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Matt Pressey
25 Min, 11 Pts (4-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-1 FT), 3 Reb
Mike Dixon
29 Min, 16 Pts (4-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 7-8 FT), 2 Ast, 3 TO
Kim English
35 Min, 8 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-4 FT), 2 TO
Steve Moore
25 Min, 2 Pts (0-2 FG, 2-4 FT), 5 Reb, 5 PF
Andrew Jones -0.7
2 Min, 1 PF
Ricardo Ratliffe
14 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 3 TO, 4 PF
Phil Pressey
33 Min, 3 Pts (0-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 3-4 FT), 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 TO, 5 PF
  • Thanks to some nice buckets by Dixon and English, Mizzou made a decent little run in the second half, cutting KSU's lead to 13 points. And they got a series of good looks from long range shortly thereafter. But they missed all of them. Denmon's legs appeared to be gone -- he shot just 1-for-7 (1-for-5 on 3-pointers) after halftime. Of course, your legs do tire when carrying an entire team on your back for 20 minutes.
  • Matt Pressey is simply the king of junk points. When Mizzou is up big, he single-handedly extends a lead from 20 points to 27 late in the game. When Mizzou is down big, he attacks the rim relentlessly and successfully ... and because of that, his full-game stats (particularly shooting stats) do not give you an idea for how poorly he shot when the game was actually in question. Still, he is one of many Mizzou players who didn't give up when down an insurmountable amount. Their problem yesterday wasn't effort -- it was a combination of bad matchups, bad shooting (both in terms of being forced to take bad shots and missing the good ones) and, eventually, dead legs.
  • Jordan Henriquez really is an awful matchup for Ratliffe, but ... you really have to show more than this, Ricardo. Nine minutes without a field goal attempt in the first half, five minutes with just one attempt and two fouls in the second, and one total rebound? Yikes. We'll call this a regression-toward-the-mean game for 'Cardo and leave it at that ... for now.
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. (Yes.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Nope.)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Nope.)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Not even close.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Nope.)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Nope.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Yes.)

Two-for-seven. The point of this checklist is to emphasize that Mizzou's personality is different when successful -- it isn't simply about making or missing jumpers. Yesterday Mizzou shot poorly and lost track of their season-long narrative. They had no point guard, they had no Kim English, and Ricardo Ratliffe was ineffective and invisible. Not good.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The Glass. Duh.

In their one true road game (Old Dominion), Mizzou got lit up on the glass. They are more likely to be focused and motivated in a big-time conference matchup instead of a one-off non-conference game versus a mid-major, but Kansas State is very, very active, particularly on the offensive end. If Mizzou can either a) neutralize KSU and grab a healthy percentage of defensive boards or b) match KSU's second-chance opportunities with plenty of their own, then Mizzou's chances of winning this game skyrocket.

Mizzou Vs. Kansas State: -7 Expected Rebounds

Mizzou Vs. "Real" Opponents (Home/Neutral): +0.8 Expected Rebounds/Game
Mizzou Vs. "Real" Opponents (Road): -6.5 Expected Rebounds/Game

Um, slight difference.

The Whistles

This is almost always the case on the road, but the way this game is called will have an extreme impact on the result. Perhaps the single largest change between Frank Haith's team and Mike Anderson's from last year is that Mizzou has improved from 240th to ninth in terms of fouling (Def. FTA/FGA). They are infinitely better-positioned on defense, but quite a few of KSU's free throw attempts come from second-chance opportunities near the basket. If KSU is grabbing second-chance opportunities, the odds are good that they are also drawing fouls. And if Ratliffe and/or Steve Moore get into foul trouble, then that will just make KSU even better on the boards. At the same time, however, both Gipson and Smuels are incredibly foul-prone. If they begin to get into foul trouble, then KSU's largest advantage is somewhat negated.

It took a while, but Mizzou finally found themselves in foul trouble yesterday. Granted, it didn't necessarily have a direct impact -- they weren't struggling with fouls when they were falling behind by 20, but any comeback attempt was hindered when the foul trouble piled up in the second half; still, it happened, and Mizzou got destroyed on the glass once it did.

For the game, Mizzou and K-State each committed 22 fouls. A good portion of Missouri's came on the inside (Ratliffe, Moore and Jones combined for 10 fouls in 41 minutes), and KSU's came from guards.

Heat Check

Kansas State has four players who attempt at least two 3-pointers per game (McGruder, Spradling, Irving, Rodriguez), and Mizzou basically has five (Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Phil Pressey, Mike Dixon and Matt Pressey). Who gets hot? Both defense have the overall advantage in terms of FG%, so one person finding their range and making even a small handful of 3's could swing this game.

Marcus Denmon: 3-for-9 on 3-pointers (2-for-4 in the first half)
All Other Mizzou Players: 4-for-15 (1-for-7 in the first half)

Will Spradling; 3-for-6 (3-for-4 in the first half)
All Other KSU Players: 1-for-6 (0-for-1 in the first half)

For the game, the teams were nearly even from long distance -- KSU shot 33.3% (4-for-12) while Mizzou shot 29.2% (7-for-24). But while the game was in doubt, Spradling basically split the difference with Denmon, and while Mizzou kept shooting 3-pointers (partially out of personality, partially out of necessity), KSU was busy generating all sorts of points closer to the bucket.


From a strengths-and-weaknesses standpoint, Mizzou is who we thought they were at the beginning of the season. The difference has simply been that they have been much more successful in emphasizing their strengths than we perhaps thought. Still, Bad Mizzou is Bad Mizzou, missing 3-pointers, getting crushed on the boards, forgetting the plot at the point guard position, getting roasted (and committing fouls) in man defense by a hot home offense and being forced to play a soft (and mostly ineffective) zone defense instead. Mizzou's weaknesses are their weaknesses, and they will lose games like this one because of it. But we should probably take solace in the simple fact that, any time KSU operates at the level they found in the first half, they will win by double digits. Mizzou was not good enough to overcome that, but almost nobody else in the conference is, either.

(We should also take solace in the simple, glorious fact that there are no more trips to Bramlage on the horizon.)


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.