LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.
We fall into traps as fans. If our team beats someone on the road, we just assume a home win against the same opponent will follow. Missouri played one of its guttiest games of the season in beating Baylor three weeks ago; while home court advantage will help, the Tigers will still need to be dialed in to reel in the sweep. Though considering the way Mizzou has performed against the conference's top teams, one has to figure Mizzou will play pretty well.
Baylor Since Last Time (4-2)
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||55.4%
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm||11.3
The last time Mizzou and Baylor played, the game looked almost nothing like every Baylor game since: 74 possessions (10 more than Baylor's recent average) with Baylor performing well in ball control (BCI: Baylor 1.58, Mizzou 1.56) and Mizzou doing great things on the glass (Expected Rebounds: Mizzou +3). The Tigers won despite Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon shooting just 4-for-14, and they held Baylor to 2-for-10 from long range until last-minute craziness set in. It is difficult, then, to get a read for how this game will play out. Baylor's (and Missouri's) general trends in no way resemble the game they played on January 21.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
|BU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|BU Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||31
|MU Offense vs BU Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||BU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||212
Where The Bears Are Weakest
Put simply, Baylor is careless. They turn the ball over far too much, they don't get to the line a lot, and, in part because of the zone defense they elect to play, they give up far too many offensive rebounds considering their length. They rank 228th in Off. TO% and 208th in Off. Steal %, and they turned the ball over 19 times against Missouri in Waco.
Defensively, Baylor is better than what they've shown against Kansas this year, but they do give up too many offensive rebounds, and they do give up a few too many decent looks from long-range. While they rank 48th in Def. 2PT%, they rank just 108th in Def. 3PT%.
Where They Are Best
They are a really, really good shooting team, and the closer you get to the basket, the more difficult your shot tends to become. On offense, the Bears rank 52nd in 2PT%, 22nd in 3PT% and 45th in FT%. If they don't turn the ball over, odds are good that they will take a pretty decent shot. Plus, with their length they do not have to worry about getting too many shots blocked themselves.
Meanwhile, their zone defense does force quite a few mistakes. (And yes, they play a decent amount of man defense, too.) They rank 22nd in Def. Block% and 25th in Def. Steal%, and they did force 18 turnovers against Missouri three weeks ago. Ricardo Ratliffe had six, Marcus Denmon five and Phil Pressey four. Despite how they looked mid-week against Kansas, this is indeed still a very good basketball team.
That said ... look at the above stats. The defense has fallen apart in recent weeks. The Bears are allowing 1.07 points per possession (for a reference point, Missouri allowed 1.05 to Kansas and Oklahoma over the last week). The turnovers faucet has dried up with A.J. Walton's collapse (we'll get to that), and opponents are finding life a lot easier close to the basket. Mizzou was surprisingly successful near the basket in Waco, and the burden of proof now rests with the Bears for showing that their defense won't be an extreme liability come tourney time.
(And yes, one could say the same thing about Missouri to an extent.)
Baylor's Season Since Last Time
Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
No. 21 Texas, 76-71
at No. 79 Oklahoma, 77-65
at No. 100 Oklahoma State, 64-60
at No. 111 Texas A&M, 63-60
No. 3 Kansas, 54-68
No. 7 Missouri, 88-89
For the season, Baylor is now 21-0 versus teams ranked worse than 20th by Pomeroy, 0-3 versus teams in the Top 20. They are clearly a strong team, but they may play their way out of an optimal seed if their best wins are against Texas and Kansas State come tourney time.
Baylor Player Stats Since Last Time
Quincy Acy (6'7, 235, Sr.)
||31.8 MPG, 12.3 PPG (59% 2PT, 77% FT), 8.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.2 APG, 2.2 TOPG, 3.5 PFPG
Perry Jones III (6'11, 235, So.)
||32.0 MPG, 14.5 PPG (56% 2PT, 77% FT), 8.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Pierre Jackson (5'10, 180, Jr.)
||34.3 MPG, 14.8 PPG (49% 2PT, 45% 3PT, 71% FT), 7.0 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.8 TOPG, 3.0 PFPG
Quincy Miller (6'9, 210, Fr.)
||24.2 MPG, 11.8 PPG (44% 2PT, 50% 3PT, 80% FT), 5.3 RPG, 1.7 TOPG
|Anthony Jones (6'10, 195, Sr.)
||14.3 MPG, 4.7 PPG (50% 2PT, 40% 3PT, 86% FT), 2.3 RPG
Brady Heslip (6'2, 180, So.)
||26.5 MPG, 6.5 PPG (57% 2PT, 27% 3PT, 83% FT), 1.2 RPG
Deuce Bello (6'4, 185, Fr.)
||5.5 MPG, 2.0 PPG
Cory Jefferson (6'9, 210, So.)
||9.8 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG
Gary Franklin (6'2, 195, So.)
||8.8 MPG, 1.5 PPG
|A.J. Walton (6'1, 185, Jr.)
||16.0 MPG, 1.2 PPG (10% 2PT, 0% 3PT), 1.2 SPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.0 TOPG
* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
Highest Usage%: Miller (26%), Jackson (25%), P. Jones (24%), Acy (19%)
Highest Floor%: Acy (45%), P. Jones (43%), Jackson (43%), A. Jones (42%)
Highest %Pass: Jackson (70%), Franklin (56%), Walton (51%), A. Jones (38%)
Highest %Shoot: Miller (52%), Jefferson (52%), Heslip (51%), P. Jones (48%)
Highest %Fouled: Acy (20%), Heslip (17%), P. Jones (15%), A. Jones (14%)
- Highest %T/O: Walton (17%), Jefferson (14%), Franklin (13%), Acy (10%)
- Let's do a little compare-and-contrast:
Three Weeks Ago: 20.6 MPG, 4.3 PPG (42% 2PT, 22% 3PT), 3.7 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 2.2 TOPG
Last Three Weeks: 16.0 MPG, 1.2 PPG (10% 2PT, 0% 3PT), 1.0 APG, 1.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.0 TOPG
For most of the first two months of the season, Walton was the starter and defensive specialist, with the explosive Pierre Jackson coming off of the bench for an offensive boost. And since Baylor began the season 17-0, it's fair to say the arrangement worked. But following the blowout loss to Kansas, Scott Drew made a change. Jackson now starts, with Walton coming off of the bench; and while his offensive stats were never amazing, Walton's contributions have dwindled to the point where he is almost an outright liability on the court. He is still a good defender, but with what he takes off of the table offensively (he can't shoot, and he's turning the ball over like crazy), he cannot be trusted to play major minutes. With him, the offense grows clunky; without him, the defense does the same. Jackson is playing more minutes and scoring plenty of points, but there has been a clear defensive dropoff in the meantime.
- Perry Jones III has been spending a bit more time near the basket in recent games. He was hitting 35% of his 3-pointers and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game the last time I previewed the Bears; in the last six games, however, he has taken just five 3-pointers (missing all five) and raised his per-game rebounding to 8.2. His defensive rebounding rate is now over 20%, which, considering his height, is where it should be.
- Blue-chip freshman Quincy Miller seems to have taken a nice step forward overall, but that is mostly because his explosion versus Missouri is included in the above stats. Against the Tigers, he made a Le'Bryan Nash-esque 12 of 17 shots and scored 29 points. Since then, he's made just 14 of 40 shots and averaged 8.4 points per game. He had a nice game versus Texas (18 points, six rebounds) but scored just 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a combined 40 minutes versus Oklahoma State and Kansas. Like a lot of freshmen, Miller is a bit bipolar. We've seen the good pole; hopefully we see the bad one tomorrow.
- Brady Heslip is struggling to find as many open looks in recent games. He was taking 5.9 3-pointers per game three weeks ago and making 48 percent of them; now, he's taking just 4.3 and making 27 percent. He struggled against Missouri and hasn't necessarily recovered since.
Keys to the Game
Don't expect anything too creative here. The keys are pretty obvious at this point.
The Glass. Despite iffy shooting, Mizzou was able to take the game in Waco because they beat Baylor on the glass. (Well, that, and Ricardo Ratliffe went crazy for 27 and eight.) At home, they might not need to win the rebounding battle, but they will need to come close. Mizzou has handled its size disadvantages much better than we anticipated at the beginning of the season, but not always.
The Long Ball. Both teams came into the last battle smoking hot from long range; Baylor ranked 14th in 3PT%, Mizzou 21st. Neither team shot particularly well -- Mizzou was 7-for-21, Baylor 2-for-10 in the first 39 minutes. The Bears shot themselves out of the game to an extent, then almost shot themselves back in with a 5-for-6 run late. If both teams are hot or cold, they will balance each other out; but both teams are ridiculously streaky, and if only one is hot, that's like a bonus 9-12 points.
Ken Pomeroy's projections say Mizzou wins, 78-71. The projections have been pretty dialed in lately -- Mizzou was +2 (compared to the projections) against Texas, +2 against Kansas and -5 against Oklahoma -- so we'll go with that. It is at least feasible that, if Mizzou is able to go on a decent early run, Baylor might fold again like they did against Kansas. But the Bears match up better with Mizzou and should be able to stick around. Still, Mizzou has too many weapons, especially at home. Break out the brooms.