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Mizzou 82, Illinois 73: Study Hall

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Bowers-Oriakhi-Brown. The eyeballs agree with the stats sometimes.

Mizzou 82, Illinois 73

Pace (No. of Possessions) 72.2
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.14 1.01
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.12 0.99
2-PT FG% 44.4% 40.5%
3-PT FG% 26.3% 25.0%
FT% 79.2% 78.9%
True Shooting % 49.1% 44.3%
Mizzou Illinois
Assists 16 10
Steals 2 5
Turnovers 12 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.50 2.14
Mizzou Illinois
Expected Offensive Rebounds 17 18
Offensive Rebounds 22 14
Difference +5 -4

It Never Quite Plays Out Like You Think It Will

Illinois made just eight of 32 3-pointers, so Mizzou must have won by 20, right?

Phil Pressey shot just 3-for-19? Oy, Bad Phil must have meant bad loss for the Tigers.

There were a lot of conflicting "If X happens, then Team Y will definitely win/lose," occurrences in the box score. In the end, timeliness was the difference. Illinois missed most of its shots down the stretch, Mizzou converted rebounds into break-out opportunities, Phil Pressey made his last three shots from the field, and Mizzou made its free throws. What was a back-and-forth battle (and a pretty incredible one at that) turned in the ninth round and ended in the 10th. Mizzou took everything Illinois could give it, then went out and won the game.

Goodness, The Rebounding

Maybe you come to appreciate rebounding more when your team plays a style that wins despite rebounding for many years. But it really is something else to watch a team of yours dominate on the glass like this. Illinois had a couple of good-hustle periods where they were beating the Tigers to loose balls, but those spans of time never lasted very long.

And on the flipside, it is also still rather jarring to see Mizzou winning despite BCI disadvantages, instead of because of them.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 24.8 0.83 30 Min, 23 Pts (10-20 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-3 FT), 10 Reb (5 Off), 4 Ast
Alex Oriakhi 20.2 0.72 28 Min, 13 Pts (5-10 FG, 3-3 FT), 14 Reb (7 Off)
Jabari Brown 14.0 0.40 35 Min, 18 Pts (5-10 FG, 3-7 3PT, 5-6 FT), 7 Reb, 3 TO
Phil Pressey 8.6 0.22 39 Min, 12 Pts (3-19 FG, 0-4 3PT, 6-6 FT), 11 Ast, 7 Reb (2 Off), 4 TO
Tony Criswell 7.5 0.34 22 Min, 7 Pts (3-5 FG, 1-2 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 3 PF
Earnest Ross 4.8 0.16 29 Min, 8 Pts (3-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO
Keion Bell 0.5 0.05 11 Min, 1 Pt (1-2 FT), 2 Reb, 3 PF
Negus Webster-Chan -2.2 -0.36 6 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 3PT)
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Bowers 31% 47% 4.5 50% 42% 6% 2%
Oriakhi 17% 47% 1.3 0% 79% 21% 0%
Brown 19% 38% 1.5 0% 55% 29% 16%
Pressey 28% 30% 6.8 70% 20% 6% 4%
Criswell 13% 43% 1.0 0% 65% 23% 13%
Ross 16% 30% 1.7 33% 45% 10% 11%
Bell 3% 38% 0.5 0% 0% 100% 0%
NWC 14% 0% 0.9 0% 50% 0% 50%
  • Okay, fine. If Jabari Brown is going to do this when he starts, then I'll get off my "Jankovic for Starting 5" soapbox. Really, really heady play from Brown overall. With the number of 3's he has taken in his brief college career, it is easy to assume he is a spot-up shooter. But what he showed against Illinois was a wonderfully intuitive game, well-rounded enough to take whatever the moment is giving him (be it a 3-point attempt, a drive to the basket, or a nice pass) and smart enough to know exactly what the moment is giving him. Hopefully we see a lot more 3-for-7 games from long range instead of 1-for-7, but it was nice to see him getting hot for a little while, especially early on.
  • Freshmen: six total minutes. Frank Haith's minutes distributions have been interesting this year. He is giving the young guys as much time as possible in the lower-leverage moments but basically making them sit and watch in the high-pressure situations (and Braggin' Rights is a 40-minute high-pressure situation). It was surprising to see Haith basically ratchet things down to a six-man rotation -- I thought one of Mizzou's biggest advantages in this game was the size of its bench -- but it certainly worked.
  • Alex Oriakhi is a REBOUNDER. Man oh man. Strong, sound, strong, aggressive and strong on the glass.
  • Oriakhi, Laurence Bowers and Tony Criswell: 15 offensive rebounds.
  • Everything I can think to say about Phil Pressey has already been said. I didn't hate his shot selection for the most part -- a good portion of his misses were the runners and mid-range jumpers we've seen him hit time and again, and he only took four 3-pointers (four might be too many, but it felt like eight in real time). But he just kept pecking away, just kept believing in his game, and over the course of his 39 minutes, he went from the reason why Mizzou was going to win, to the reason why Mizzou was going to lose, to the reason Mizzou won. Goodness, he was good down the stretch.
  • Of course, saying Pressey was "the reason Mizzou won" reveals that I'm already taking Laurence Bowers for granted in a major, major way, doesn't it? Ho hum, 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting. Yeah, yeah, I guess that was decent. Seriously, though, he shot 50 percent from the field, made two of three free throws, grabbed five offensive boards ... and had one quarter of Mizzou's assists. And he even got into a bit of a scrap in the first half, one that seemed to spark a 12-2 Mizzou run.
  • Jabari Brown is 6'5, 205 pounds. Not a small guy. And he looked like Negus Webster-Chan standing next to Earnest Ross, who just looks bigger and bigger.
  • Speaking of Ross, he played an underrated 29 minutes. He didn't shoot amazingly well, but he grabbed six boards and lit an emotional spark a couple of times, and all three of his baskets came at key times. He contributes in a major way to this team's identity, even when he isn't contributing a ton in the box score.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The 3-pointer

So Illinois has beaten its three Top 100 opponents by an average score of 79-66 ... and has beaten is four opponents ranked between 130-230 by an average score of 70-64. The Illini haven't played nearly enough games to get a true "They play their best against the best teams" label -- they have, after all, played only two games versus Top 70 teams -- but they are clearly, ridiculously volatile right now. That is kind of scary, isn't it, knowing you aren't necessarily in control of your outcome against them? If the 3's are falling, there's not much you can do about it. You're always going to be a step behind. Just ask Gonzaga. Illinois made 21 of 51 3's against Gonzaga and Butler (41%) and just 25 of 74 in iffy games versus Hawaii, Gardner Webb and Western Carolina (34%).

Illinois: 8-for-32 on 3-pointers. Illinois survived without its 3-point shot for a while, thanks in part to some awesome contributions from role players like Nnanna Egwu and, of course, Joseph Bertrand (hate that guy), but it gave the Illini no margin for error with the way Mizzou was rebounding. And eventually UI wilted. Mizzou, meanwhile, made just five of 19 3-pointers (players not named Jabari Brown went 2-for-12), but ... well, they're used to that by now.

The glass

Mizzou has enough up front to win this category pretty easily, but if Illinois is able to break even, Mizzou is basically hostage to whether Illinois is making its 3's or not. And on the flipside, Illinois is built to win the BCI battle. If Mizzou is doing well here, Illinois will probably have to make at least 40% of its 3's to win.

Mizzou did indeed dominate on the glass, and in the end, Illinois needed to make 12 of its 32 3-pointers (38%) to win instead of just eight.

The supporting cast

This is the biggest game of the season for both teams. According to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, Mizzou has played two teams better than Illinois (No. 4 Louisville and No. 10 VCU) and Illinois has played one better than Mizzou (Gonzaga), but the build-up for this one is completely different than any other game from this season. We know the primary contributors -- Paul, Richardson, Phil Pressey, Laurence Bowers -- but the supporting cast often decides these rivalry games. Does Tyler Griffey or Tracy Abrams get rolling for Illinois? Might this be Jabari Brown's (or Stefan Jankovic's, or Negus Webster-Chan's) coming out party? And lord knows Alex Oriakhi played in plenty of intense Big East battles in his pre-Mizzou life.

Alex Oriakhi, Mizzou: 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, 14 rebounds.

Joe Bertrand, Illinois: 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting, 10 points in the second half.

Jabari Brown, Mizzou: 18 points on 5-for-10 shooting, 5-for-6 from the line, seven defensive rebounds.

Nnanna Egwu, Illinois: 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting, six offensive rebounds.

In the end, Oriakhi was slightly better than Egwu, and Brown was slightly better than Bertrand (while Pressey and Bowers were slightly better than Paul and either D.J. Richardson or Tyler Griffey). It added up.


I would still like to see Mizzou improve a bit more with the ball-handling, and I still fear Mizzou's lack of 3-point shooting. But the last three games have given us serious, extended glimpses of Mizzou's ceiling, and it is really, really high. The Tigers are 10-1, their mid-season transfer has scored 30 points in two games, and when the polls come out today, they should be the highest-ranked team in the SEC. They face an interesting test in this week's late-night tip-off versus UCLA, but one has to like the direction this season is headed, even if there are some more slip-ups along the way.

Four straight.


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.

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.