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Study Hall: Kansas 87, Mizzou 86

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 25:  Michael Dixon #11 and Kim English #24 of the Missouri Tigers react during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 25, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 25: Michael Dixon #11 and Kim English #24 of the Missouri Tigers react during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 25, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Your Trifecta: Denmon-Ratliffe-Dixon. Your winner: somehow, nobody ... again. Overthinkers Anonymous, people.

Kansas 87, Missouri 86

Pace (No. of Possessions) 70.9
Points Per Minute 1.91 1.93
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.21 1.23
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.32 1.50
2-PT FG% 52.8% 48.7%
3-PT FG% 37.9% 47.4%
FT% 83.3% 66.7%
True Shooting % 59.0% 60.0%
Mizzou KU
Assists 22 16
Steals 7 4
Turnovers 10 9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.90 2.22
Mizzou KU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13 13
Offensive Rebounds 11 10
Difference -2 -3

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

The first of many numbers to stand out in the table above: despite overtime, there were only 71 possessions in Saturday's game. Last year, Missouri averaged 72 possessions per game, almost all of which ended in regulation. This was not a fast-paced game ... but both teams still almost hit 90 points. There was some incredible offense on display in Lawrence. The offenses were pretty good throughout (at least while the other team wasn't on a run), but two runs in particular -- well, a run by Mizzou and two half-runs by Kansas -- took things to a different level.

  • Mizzou Run (29-27 Kansas, 6:15 left in the first half)
    Mike Dixon layup (29-29, 6:04)
    Mike Dixon layup (31-29, 5:50)
    Kim English missed jumper after an offensive rebound
    Phil Pressey two free throws (33-31, 4:43)
    Phil Pressey 3-pointer (36-31, 4:06)
    Kim English turnover
    Marcus Denmon 3-pointer (39-31, 2:56)
    Marcus Denmon jumper (41-32, 2:27)
    Matt Pressey turnover
    Marcus Denmon 3-pointer after two offensive rebounds (44-32, 0:13)
    Phil Pressey jumper (46-32, 19:45 2H)
    Ricardo Ratliffe jumper (48-34, 18:54)
    Ricardo Ratliffe layup (50-36, 18:11)
    Kim English 3-pointer (53-36, 17:36)
    Ricardo Ratliffe layup (55-36, 17:03)
    Marcus Denmon 3-pointer (58-39, 16:24)
    16 possessions, 14 scores, 31 points

This just an incredible run considering the circumstances, considering the hostile environment, and considering the good defense they were facing. It was such a run that the camera even caught Marcus Denmon smiling a couple of times, which is ... well, it's not as rare as catching Mike Dixon smiling, but it's rare. Mizzou built a 19-point lead despite forcing an uncharacteristically low number of turnovers, which says something about the offense in and of itself.

  • Kansas Mini-Run No. 1 (63-47 Mizzou, 12:17 left in regulation)
    Conner Teahan 3-pointer (50-63, 12:03)
    Conner Teahan turnover
    Kevin Young one free throw (51-65, 11:13)
    Kevin Young dunk (53-67, 10:40)
    Conner Teahan 3-pointer (56-67, 10:12)
    Thomas Robinson layup after two offensive rebounds (58-67, 8:58)
    Travis Releford missed free throw
    Tyshawn Taylor layup (60-68, 7:51)
    Thomas Robinson two free throws (62-69, 7:12)
    Travis Releford two free throws (64-69, 6:44)
    Tyshawn Taylor two free throws (66-69, 6:10)
    11 possessions, nine scores, 19 points
  • Kansas Mini-Run No. 2 (71-66 Mizzou, 3:50 left in regulation)
    Thomas Robinson layup (68-71, 3:22)
    Thomas Robinson layup (70-71, 2:30)
    Travis Releford two free throws (72-73, 1:49)
    Thomas Robinson missed jumper
    Thomas Robinson three-point play (75-75, 0:16)
    Five possessions, four scores, nine points
    COMBINED: 16 possessions, 13 scores, 28 points

Missouri has struggled at times on defense this season, but I think the defense gets an acquittal this time for two reasons: 1) Kansas has a very good defense and was completely grasping at straws during Mizzou's own run, and 2) any sense of aggressiveness was decimated by foul trouble. In Mini-Run No. 2, Ricardo Ratliffe was left to play ball denial defense on Thomas Robinson; if Robinson got the ball, it was "Olé!" to the basket. Steve Moore (who somehow didn't get into foul trouble) guarded Robinson for a while (including most of the mini-drought -- three straight scoreless possessions -- that sandwiched the two mini-runs), and it was reasonably successful; the problem, of course, was that Mizzou's offense was playing 4-on-5 with Moore (0 FG attempts) in the game, and Mizzou desperately needed offense. So once Ratliffe found foul trouble, that was the trade -- offense for defense, or defense for offense. No way to get both at once.

More Good Rebounding

Mizzou was a combined minus-4 in terms of offensive rebounds against Baylor, minus-1 versus Texas Tech, minus-14 versus Texas and minus-6 versus Kansas State. But against the two best overall rebounding teams (according to Offensive and Defensive Rebound rates), Kansas and Oklahoma, Mizzou was a combined minus-1.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 30.2 0.69 44 Min, 28 Pts (10-15 FG, 6-10 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl
Ricardo Ratliffe 24.9 0.92 27 Min, 22 Pts (8-13 FG, 6-6 FT), 12 Reb (7 Off), 4 PF
Mike Dixon 15.5 0.37 42 Min, 17 Pts (6-15 FG, 2-9 3PT, 3-4 FT), 6 Ast
Phil Pressey 12.7 0.38 33 Min, 8 Pts (2-8 FG, 1-3 3PT, 3-4 FT), 12 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 5 PF
Kim English 5.9 0.13 44 Min, 11 Pts (4-12 FG, 2-6 3PT, 1-2 FT), 6 Reb, 2 TO
Steve Moore 1.3 0.07 20 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 7 Reb (2 Off)
Matt Pressey -3.7 -0.25 15 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 2 Reb, 2 TO, 5 PF
  • Marcus Denmon made two-thirds of his shots, and one of the misses was the near-dagger he launched from about 25 feet as the shot clock was expiring with 32 seconds left in regulation. As we'll see below, he scored 28 points despite the fact that his Usage Rate was probably too low. As we always say about Marcus, the way he lets the game come to him is both his biggest strength and biggest weakness. With the way he shot when he seized control of the game in overtime, one gets the impression that he should have just started doing that with about five minutes left in regulation. But that sounds like a complaint ... and I just can't even pretend to complain about anything Denmon-related right now. He almost single-handedly carried the team to victory in overtime.
  • Bottle this up, Ricardo. We seem to all agree that teams like Kentucky match up wonderfully with Missouri because of their interior presence. And after seeing the way Ratliffe and Steve Moore shot tentatively against Kansas State's active big men, it was completely justifiable. And then 'Cardo goes and plays like he did on Saturday. Even before Jeff Withey got hurt, Ratliffe was dominating the matchup, shooting the baby hook over the 7-foot-1 Withey and giving us the briefest glimpse (before foul trouble set in) of a team with no actual weaknesses.
  • Mike Dixon's Eff You Three™ quota maxed out pretty early on, I guess. With the offense stagnating after Phil Pressey got into foul trouble, Dixon tried to pick up the slack but just couldn't find the range. He still had six assists and still averaged a decent 1.13 points per shot, but Mizzou needed one more Eff You Three™ than he was capable of giving on Saturday.
  • Phil Pressey still did not foul Tyshawn Taylor. And Phil Pressey was still fouled by Thomas Robinson.
  • I think I feel the worst for Kim English. He played 44 of 45 minutes, grabbed six boards, minimized his turnovers, and worked really, really hard for some open shots ... and he just couldn't hit them.
  • As dcrockett17 mentioned on Saturday evening, the offense just completely bogs down with Steve Moore in the game right now. He has suffered from quite a bit of fumbleitis in recent games, and that has rendered the pick-and-roll completely moot when Ratliffe is out. He played about the best defense against Robinson as anyone in the country could, but as mentioned above, Frank Haith consistently had to make a choice once Ratliffe got into foul trouble -- handicap your offense, or handicap your defense?
  • Matt Pressey, last seven games: 14 points (6-26 FG, 0-9 3PT, 2-6 FT). He is still playing solid defense (Saturday aside), and he is still solid in the ball control game -- nine assists, five steals, six turnovers, 2.33 BCI -- but he simply has to make the open shots presented to him. From January 3 to January 30, he made 10 of 22 3-pointers. He is currently 0-for-February.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Denmon 21% 57% 2.1 40% 51% 6% 3%
Ratliffe 33% 51% 2.3 0% 67% 28% 5%
Dixon 22% 44% 4.1 66% 28% 7% 0%
P. Pressey 19% 44% 8.1 84% 10% 4% 2%
English 18% 26% 1.6 27% 55% 8% 9%
Moore 3% 0% 0.2 0% 0% 0% 100%
M. Pressey 14% 8% 2.1 60% 20% 0% 20%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (No.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Yes, barely.)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (No.)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Very much so.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Very much so.)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Yes.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (No.)

That's 4-for-7. Only Marcus Denmon could score 28 points while, apparently, not being assertive enough in his use of possessions.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

Road Things

As always, offensive rebounds, fouls and Phil Pressey will go a long way toward determining Mizzou's chances. But all three of these factors are rather extreme against Kansas. The Jayhawks are phenomenal on the defensive glass, Mizzou has no chance if their bigs get into foul trouble (and a solid chance if Kansas' bigs do instead), and Mizzou won at Mizzou Arena despite a mostly horrendous game from Flip. A lot has to go right for Mizzou to win tomorrow, including all three of these things.

And I'm actually going to add a fourth Road Thing™ for this game as well: runs. Kansas is going to make a few 3-pointers, score some transition points, block a few shots, and probably throw down some major dunks. They just will. It's going to happen. All of these things are going to get the Allen Field House crowd involved to a rather incredible level. This is going to be the loudest, most hostile road crowd Mizzou has seen all season, and they simply have to be able to respond when things get loud. If they cow to the moment, and dunks turns into quick 8-0 runs, things will get out of hand, as they have quite often for Mizzou at AFH in recent years.

Exp. Offensive Rebounds: Mizzou +1 (Check!)
Fouls: Mizzou 22, Kansas 16
Key End-Of-Game Foul Calls/No-Calls: Kansas +3
Phil Pressey: 33 minutes, eight points (2-8 FG), 12 assists, three rebounds, two steals, two turnovers, five fouls

This was perhaps Phil Pressey's best "big-time" game. He has played well on plenty of occasions this year, but I have for the most part felt that in the biggest of games, Mizzou will have to rely on Denmon and Dixon to come through. I'm not sure if this is fair or not -- it probably stems simply from the first Kansas game, where Flip played poorly and missed what could have been a key free throw in the last minute; but Saturday erased whatever perceptions I had. Flip was big-time. And he got screwed in the final seconds of both regulation (draws a foul, not called) and overtime (commits no foul, whistled anyway).

As for the runs, we covered the runs above. Twice in the first half, I found myself saying "Maintain..." in the live thread after a big basket/dunk. In both instances, Mizzou not only prevented a run but went on one themselves. It was incredible. But obviously Kansas still made one in the second half. Still, this category was a draw, and I expected it to be a big loss for Mizzou.

Hit Your Jumpers

We hate it when Mizzou seems to be settling for 3-pointers or launching them too quickly, but the fact is, Missouri will have to be hitting their 3's to have any chance. If the ball is moving well, and some combination of Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon, Kim English, Phil Pressey and/or Matt Pressey gets hot from long range, they will stay in the game for a good long while.

When I said this above, I had no idea what Ricardo Ratliffe was about to do. I thought Mizzou would have to rely on 3-pointers because I didn't think Ratliffe was going to be able to find much success against Withey and Robinson. Still, with Ratliffe's minutes dwindling with every whistle, Mizzou turned to the perimeter game; it succeeded for a while. They made nine of their first 19 3-pointers (47.4%) but only two of their last ten. They missed their last five in regulation. The 3-ball allowed them to open up a big lead, then the 3-ball dried up the offense.

The Supporting Cast

Here's what I said before the last Mizzou-Kansas game:

Thomas Robinson is going to have a good evening. He just is. But Mizzou can overcome that if they mostly negate the impact of role players like Withey, Travis Releford, and perhaps Connor Teahan. Mizzou has just been killed by Kansas' role players in years past, whether it is Tyrel Reed making a key 3-pointer at Mizzou Arena last year (after killing them the year before, too), or Releford and Mario Little coming out of nowhere to combine for 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting in Lawrence. Limit the hit-or-miss supporting cast, and you are putting a lot of pressure on Robinson and Taylor to not only score, but score 30 or more.

Ditto. One-hundred percent ditto.

Mizzou withstood runs, got a good game from Flip Pressey, made 11 3-pointers, won the rebounding battle ... and lost anyway. And while Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor were key reasons for that, Kansas probably wouldn't have come back without contributions from two key role players: Conner Teahan (12 points, 4-for-4 on 3-pointers) and Kevin Young (five points, all during Kansas' comeback attempt, eight rebounds). KU's bench contributed 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Mizzou's "bench" (Matt Pressey and Steve Moore) matched the nine rebounds but contributed zero points. Quite the difference.


It's all been said at this point. This was an absolutely incredible performance by Missouri, one that, if they bottle it up and perform at the same level for the next month, will have them playing in April for the first time. But after the crushing disappointment that the actual result of the game provided, Mizzou must prove they can respond. They host Iowa State on Wednesday, and if they lose, they could slip all the way to the 3-seed in the Big 12 Tournament. It's up to Mizzou to respond well, and while I have no reason to doubt them ... almost every time I do doubt them, they prove me very, very wrong. So I'm going to doubt like there's no tomorrow.


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.