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Study Hall: Kansas State 78, Missouri 68

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Your Trifecta: Dixon-Denmon-Ratliffe. Your winner: somehow, nobody.

You want to know the worst part? In terms of expected rebounds, Mizzou actually won the rebounding battle.

Kansas State 78, Missouri 68

Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.5
Points Per Minute 1.70 1.95
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.04 1.19
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.13 1.50
2-PT FG% 44.1% 51.2%
3-PT FG% 30.8% 66.7%
FT% 70.0% 72.7%
True Shooting % 49.4% 63.2%
Mizzou KSU
Assists 15 17
Steals 8 3
Turnovers 10 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.30 1.82
Mizzou KSU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14 10
Offensive Rebounds 12 7
Difference -2 -3

The Fickle Long Ball

Opponent Home Road
No. 24 Baylor 23.5% 43.8%
No. 31 Iowa State 52.2%
No. 79 Oklahoma 27.3% 58.3%
No. 97 Texas Tech 44.4%
No. 139 Kansas 37.5%
No. 176 Texas 56.3% 16.7%
No. 203 Kansas State 66.7% 33.3%
No. 239 Texas A&M 41.7% 29.4%
No. 288 Oklahoma State 42.9% 38.5%

Over the weekend, I referenced a piece on Ken Pomeroy's blog asserting that defense has little control over an opponent's 3PT%. It made little sense to me that things would be this random, but let's just say I'm beginning to come around. Apparently the best way to defend the perimeter is to prevent opponents from taking 3-pointers at all, because once they go up, who the hell knows what will happen.

To the right is a table showing how Mizzou opponents (in order of their 3PT% ranking) have fared shooting the longball against the Tigers, both at Mizzou Arena (Home) and in their own gyms (Road). Let's just say that patterns are minimal.

At Mizzou Arena, the four best opponents (in terms of 3PT%) have seen iffy success at best. Texas Tech shot well late, and Kansas shot well early, but Baylor and Oklahoma were dreadful. Meanwhile, the four worst opponents have all shot better than 41%. On the road, the bad teams have mostly struggled (Oklahoma State had one notorious hot streak late in the game, but that was it), while the good teams have caught fire.

The correlation between each opponent's 3PT% ranking and their shooting success versus Mizzou? -0.01. In other words, there is no correlation whatsoever. While Missouri -- a good shooting team -- was missing some open looks, Kansas State was making bank shots so awful that they almost broke the backboard. (And then, yes, they made a lot of open looks, too.) I still believe that defense plays a role in how well your opponent shoots (surely they're more likely to make the wide open looks, right?), but conference play has provided some solid anecdotal evidence that the quality of your defense doesn't really matter, whether I can convince myself of that or not.

Glass Oddity

Opponent Home Road
Kansas (54.0) -2
Oklahoma (79.5) +7 -7
Kansas State (99.5) +1 -7
Iowa State (104.5) +5
Baylor (118.5) -7 +3
Texas A&M (131.5) +6 +3
Texas (137.5) -6 -8
Texas Tech (254.5) -1
Oklahoma State (279.5) +4 +2

While we're at it, let's take a similar look at how Mizzou has fared on the boards in conference play. It makes almost as little sense.

To the right, you'll see a table that shows Mizzou's rebounding margin (in terms of expected rebounds) for home and away games versus Big 12 opponents (in order of their average OR% and DR% ranking). The overall correlation between opponents' ranking and margin is 0.19, meaning there is actually a correlation, but it is weak. Against the top three teams on the list, Mizzou has been a combined minus-8; against the middle three: plus-9. Against the bottom three: minus-9.

Looking at the somewhat random nature of Mizzou's rebounding and 3PT% defense, one begins to wonder if we're looking at the effects of game-planning and trade-offs. Is it possible that Mizzou is attempting to account for certain opponent strengths and is leaving itself vulnerable to exploitation in other categories (such as wide open 3-pointers)? Just a thought.

(Of course, that goes both ways. Mizzou dominated the defensive glass in the second half yesterday, in part because Kansas State seemed to be focusing on hustling back and preventing transition buckets.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 22.8 0.73 31 Min, 21 Pts (5-13 FG, 2-5 3PT, 9-10 FT), 2 Stl
Marcus Denmon 18.4 0.47 39 Min, 19 Pts (7-16 FG, 3-9 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Stl, 2 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 15.0 0.52 29 Min, 9 Pts (3-7 FG, 3-5 FT), 14 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast
Kim English 6.4 0.21 31 Min, 9 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 0-3 FT), 3 Reb, 5 PF
Matt Pressey 2.1 0.16 13 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-2 3PT), 2 Ast
Phil Pressey 1.4 0.04 38 Min, 8 Pts (3-11 FG, 2-6 3PT), 7 Ast, 4 Reb, 6 TO, 4 PF
Steve Moore -0.4 -0.02 18 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 3 Reb, 5 PF
Andrew Jones -0.6 -0.57 1 MIn, 1 PF
  • Honestly, Mike Dixon deserved more than 22.8 Adj. GS points. For a good portion of the game, he was all Mizzou had. It was a nice reminder of just how hard it is to match up with Missouri. K-State flustered Phil Pressey and did a good job of preventing open looks for Marcus Denmon and Kim English, but Mizzou still almost came back from a double-digit deficit, in part because Dixon can get to the rim almost anytime he wants. Even he missed some shots he typically makes (though not as many as his counterparts), but he still ended up with 21 points on just 13 field goal attempts. By necessity, he was much more 2-guard than point, but he has the ability to shift roles like that.
  • Per season averages, seven 2-point attempts, nine 3-point attempts and two free throws would net Marcus Denmon 20.1 points. So in the end, he did not have as bad a night as it seemed to me at the time. But wow, has he set the bar high when it comes to clutch 3's. On about three different occasions (once in the first half, about twice in the second), Denmon had a wide open look from long-range that I just knew would go in and spark a Mizzou run. And each time, the ball rimmed out. Obviously it is simplification to say that the bounces simply didn't go Mizzou's way last night, but ... it is kind of true.
  • Odd game for Ricardo Ratliffe. Both he and Steve Moore were cowed by K-State's interior length -- they combined to shoot just 3-for-9 -- but Ratliffe still found his way into the trifecta by doing some serious work on the defensive glass. K-State had a decent run of offensive rebounds in the first half, but Mizzou handled itself quite well in this regard, and that was mostly because of Ratliffe, who pulled in more defensive rebounds (11) than the rest of the team combined (seven). The problem, of course, is that K-State didn't have enough offensive rebound opportunities -- they were making too damn many shots.
  • For no one is the K-State matchup more difficult than Kim English. He spent most of the first half playing post defense (or at least trying) against someone twice his size, and that most likely took its toll on the other end of the court. Kimmeh was 3-for-3 on 2-pointers but just 1-4 on 3-pointers (including misses on a couple of huge looks late in the game) and, strangely, 0-for-3 from the free throw line. And, of course, he was beaten up enough that he accidentally got a technical foul when trying to angrily bounce the ball to himself and watching it slip right through his hands and high into the air.
  • Against slower guards, Phil Pressey can make like utterly miserable. But K-State's Angel Rodriguez has the one quality that can neutralize Flip quite a bit: pure, unadulterated quickness. Rodriguez only scored seven points and did have a couple of turnovers, but with Flip attempting to play ultra-aggressive defense in the second half to spark a comeback, Rodriguez calmly drove past him repeatedly; most of the time, these drives ended up in open looks from 3-point land. Meanwhile, Rodriguez's defense frustrated Flip a bit, too. Granted, at least a couple of Pressey's turnovers should probably be credited to Denmon, who continuously struggled to handle Flip's passes in the first half, but still, there's no doubting who won this individual matchup yesterday.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Dixon 28% 42% 2.6 22% 48% 30% 0%
Denmon 25% 36% 2.0 23% 63% 6% 8%
Ratliffe 18% 18% 2.5 50% 29% 17% 4%
English 15% 40% 1.6 36% 43% 15% 6%
M. Pressey 16% 34% 3.7 75% 25% 30% 0%
P. Pressey 23% 27% 4.6 71% 19% 0% 10%
Moore 6% 16% 1.3 75% 25% 0% 0%

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. (Yes!)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Yes!)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Yes!)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (No.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Yes!)

Considering the style at play and the general rebounding success, it is pretty easy to say that Mizzou played the game they needed to play yesterday. The problem: they shot worse than normal and K-State shot better.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview.

The Glass. Obviously.

Against K-State, the glass is always the No. 1 key to the game. If you can either neutralize KSU on the offensive glass or punish them for their own lapses on the defensive glass, you have gone a long way toward negating their biggest advantage. Easier said than done, of course.

Expected Rebounds: Mizzou +1

Test passed.

Keep It Up On The Perimeter

KSU is not an amazing 3-point shooting team, but they are streaky. If guys like Will Spradling or Rodriguez knock down a couple of open looks early, they could keep it up. Meanwhile, Mizzou has played fantastic perimeter defense over the last three games -- Baylor shot 24% on 3-pointers, Oklahoma State shot 29% over the first 32 minutes (before Keiton Page got hot against the backups), and Texas A&M shot 29%. One of Missouri's biggest weaknesses has become a recent strength, and if KSU turns into Bad KSU from long range, their odds of scoring enough points to win are minimal.

Kansas State 3-Pointers: 6-for-9 (66.7%)

KSU didn't take many, but they got hot early in the second half, which allowed them to keep their distance while Mizzou's offense heated up. (And that ridiculous bank shot in the first half didn't help matters.)


KSU fouls more than almost any major conference team in the country; meanwhile, they defend the 3-point line pretty well. It would not behoove Missouri to settle for jumpers. With the way Mizzou shoots free throws -- Marcus Denmon is making 89.8% of his freebies, Mike Dixon 89.2%, Phil Pressey 77.2%, Kim English 73.7% -- and the way KSU's guards tend to commit fouls (Spradling and Rodriguez combine to average 6.0 fouls per game), it would make sense for Missouri to attack and drive as much as possible, even if it results in some blocked shots.

Aside from a first-half stretch that saw them launching some ill-advised, quick 3-pointers, Mizzou really did not do a terrible job of attacking. Granted, 16 fouls for K-State is like four fouls for other teams, but still, Dixon got to the line 10 times, Ratliffe five times, and Denmon and English five times combined. KSU did indeed block some shots and alter quite a few others, but I can't complain about 20 free throw attempts.


As I mentioned yesterday, we expected this type of game to happen more in 2011-12 than it actually has. Mizzou got into foul trouble, couldn't buy a roll, and just couldn't get the job done, but the bottom line is that it was only Mizzou's third loss of the season, and that, technically speaking, they can still earn a Big 12 banner with some luck and/or a surprise showing in Lawrence this weekend.


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.