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Missouri has lost two games this year, but only one seems to linger for the most part. The Tigers had encountered enough ridiculous trips to Bramlage Coliseum that Kansas State's offensive hot streak was almost expected; plus, it came early enough in the game that hope was lost pretty quickly. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, gave Missouri a lengthy chance to put the game away before catching fire to an ridiculous degree late. The loss to OSU managed to combine two different kinds of losses -- the "we had our chances and blew it" loss, and the "suddenly bad shooters can't miss, and you're reminded that basketball is pretty stupid sometimes" loss. And the fact that it involved Keiton Page playing with Matt Pressey's face made it all the more infuriating.
But now, Mizzou gets their chance to release some of their (and their fans') pent-up frustration. And it if involves an elbow to Page's temple, I'll look the other way this once.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-13) Since Last Time
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||56.4%
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm||10.7||11.7|
Since the last time I previewed the 'Pokes, they pulled off two nice home upsets (over Mizzou and Iowa State), almost pulled a third (against Baylor), whipped poor Texas Tech on the road and got whipped twice (by Kansas and Texas A&M). They are 9-3 at home but just 2-5 in true road games, and even though the Gallagher-Iba crowd wasn't very large when they played Mizzou a few weeks ago, they should still find themselves missing the home crowd a decent amount tonight. With such hit-or-miss jump-shooting, they are an extreme rhythm team, and that rhythm tends to disappear on the road.
Oh, and those awful rebounding numbers? You can thank an injury to Philip Jurick for that. He hurt himself right after the Missouri game (of course) and didn't make another appearance until showing up for five minutes against Kansas. With him, they are an interesting shot-blocking and rebounding team; without him, they are mostly hopeless on both accounts. And yes, he is expected to play tonight.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
OSU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|OSU Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||327
MU Offense vs OSU Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||OSU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||225
Where the 'Pokes are weakest
Honestly, if the jumpers aren't falling, this is a pretty dreadful offensive team. They fall just enough to keep the 'Pokes' offensive numbers interesting, but with little presence on the offensive glass, they are built for long offensive droughts. In the last six games, only Jurick has managed better than a 6% offensive rebound rate, and as mentioned, he has barely played. (For the sake of comparison, Mizzou is basically the same way -- Ricardo Ratliffe is at 13% in the last six games, Steve Moore is at 6%, Marcus Denmon is at 4%; now imagine Mizzou's rebounding without Ratliffe. Yikes, right?)
For the season, OSU's offense ranks 220th in 2PT%, 300th in 3PT%, 327th in Off. Reb. %, and 310th in Assists Per Field Goal Made, meaning they are not a proficient passing team; they are a dribble-dribble-jumper team, and while that makes them a ripe candidate for pulling upsets when they're hot (feel free to get hot against Kansas on February 27, guys), it also makes them pretty iffy overall.
On defense, we know the story. They leverage you into taking some poor shots, and when Jurick is involved, they are a nice shot-blocking team. But they don't rebound well, they force no turnovers to speak of, and they hack and foul a lot. Plus, their bench is almost nonexistent. In Jurick's absence, all five starters have averaged at least 33 minutes per game, with two bench players (Cezar Guerrero, Marek Soucek) averaging 9.4 and 8.4 minutes, respectively. They are a six-man team with Jurick.
Where they are best
I gave it away above. They do typically force you to either take shots you don't like taking (think: mid-range jumpers) or else risk getting your shot swatted. They defend the 3-point line well, and as Mizzou knows very well, Jurick is a tremendous shot-blocker.
On offense ... well, we know very well how streaky Nash is, we know that Keiton Page can knock down open 3-pointers (even though he can't create shots on his own), and Markel Brown has started to figure things out. Mizzou knows him as "that guy who got T'd up twice after dunking," but as you'll see below, he has caught fire offensively. He's the only one, but that's still something.
OSU's Season Since Last Time
Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
No. 7 Missouri, 79-72
No. 35 Iowa State, 69-67
at No. 233 Texas Tech, 80-63
at No. 3 Kansas, 66-81
No. 15 Baylor, 60-64
at No. 112 Texas A&M, 61-76
OSU Player Stats Since Last Time
|Markel Brown (6'3, 190, So.)
||35.3 MPG, 17.3 PPG (57% 2PT, 41% 3PT, 93% FT), 4.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.8 TOPG
|Le'Bryan Nash (6'7, 230, Fr.)
||34.0 MPG, 16.0 PPG (53% 2PT, 26% 3PT, 86% FT), 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.5 TOPG
|Brian Williams (6'5, 205, RSFr.)
||37.3 MPG, 14.3 PPG (68% 2PT, 19% 3PT, 86% FT), 4.0 RPG, 1.3 TOPG
|Keiton Page (5'9, 165, Sr.)
||37.8 MPG, 13.0 PPG (45% 2PT, 27% 3PT, 96% FT), 3.5 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.5 TOPG
|Michael Cobbins (6'8, 220, RSFr.)
||33.8 MPG, 4.8 PPG (35% 2PT, 82% FT), 7.8 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 1.7 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
|Philip Jurick (6'11, 270, Jr.)
||14.5 MPG, 3.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG
|Cezar Guerrero (6'0, 175, Fr.)
||9.4 MPG, 1.6 PPG
|Marek Soucek (7'0, 235, Fr.)
||8.4 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG
* 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%: Nash (27%), Brown (25%), Page (21%), Williams (19%)
Highest Floor%: Jurick (62%), Brown (45%), Williams (44%), Nash (42%)
Highest %Pass: Jurick (70%), Page (56%), Nash (46%), Brown (42%)
Highest %Shoot: Williams (51%), Cobbins (46%), Guerrero (46%), Brown (36%)
Highest %Fouled: Guerrero (23%), Williams (21%), Cobbins (14%), Brown (13%)
- Highest %T/O: Soucek (27%), Cobbins (12%), Jurick (12%), Brown (9%)
- Because I'm a glutton for punishment:
Le'Bryan Nash Vs. Missouri: 27 points (12-18 FG, 3-4 3PT)
Le'Bryan Nash, Six Games Since: 13.8 points per game (21-54 FG, 2-15 3PT)
Obviously, with Mizzou at 23-2, it is rather difficult to play the "life is hard" card, but ... that's annoying.
- Apparently the Missouri game did spark Markel Brown. In the ten games before Mizzou, he averaged 6.5 points per game, shooting 20-for-62 (32%) in the process. His stay against Mizzou was abbreviated thanks to the technical fouls, but since then he has scored 106 points in five games. He is shooting well from the field (31-for-59 FG, 7-for-17 3PT), and he's getting to the line a ton. He was 13-for-13 on free throws against Texas Tech and made 14 of 16 in the other four games since Mizzou.
- Injuries and defections have leveled the Cowboys this year, but as we always say, injuries hurt in the present tense and help in the future tense. Assuming Nash doesn't go pro (and lord knows he shouldn't yet ... but he probably will), OSU will return seven of the eight players listed above next year, five of which will be just sophomores. Plus, they will return injured Jean-Paul Olukemi. The experience players like Brian Williams and Brown have gotten in Olukemi's absence could end up incredibly valuable. They will, however, need a point guard at some point.
Keys to the Game
Make Sure They Don't Beat You The Same Way. Oklahoma State beat Missouri last time because of the 17-footer. The Tigers were slow to rotate and/or get around screens early at Gallagher-Iba, and guys like Nash (12-for-18) and Brian Williams (6-for-11) nailed quite a few long 2-pointers early on. Nash exploded late, but without the early jumpers, OSU isn't close enough for Nash's hot streak to matter. Mizzou needs to fight, scratch and claw on the perimeter and make sure that if OSU pulls another upset, they at least do so in a different matter. Obviously overplaying the perimeter has its own set of drawbacks -- it could result in fouls, and OSU is a phenomenal free throw shooting team; plus, there's nothing saying that they will make as many long jumpers again this time, even if open. But still.
Attack The Rim. Oklahoma State plays pretty good perimeter defense, but they hack a lot in the process. Mizzou did a reasonably decent job of pounding the ball inside last time -- Ricardo Ratliffe shot 10-for-17 -- and despite the fact that OSU blocked quite a few shots (seven), a focus on both getting Ratliffe involved and hurling guards at the rim could get a thin team in foul trouble and/or open up 3-pointers later on.
- Honestly? Just Play Well. I really couldn't come up with a third key because if Missouri is playing well -- getting Ratliffe looks, passing well, obstructing passing lanes, playing tight perimeter defense, finding open looks for Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon, getting the home crowd involved -- they will win. No overthinking necessary. OSU is an interesting team that will get even more interesting next year, but they are not good enough to win in Columbia if Mizzou is in "not messing around" mode.
I believe I saw that the line is Mizzou -16, and Ken Pomeroy's projections say Mizzou 82, OSU 64. That sounds about right with me. If the Cowboys are making their jumpers, they will stay close, but in theory Mizzou should pull away a bit anyway. And if the jumpers aren't falling, Mizzou will be up 20+.