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Study Hall: Mizzou 74, Kansas 71

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Your Trifecta: Denmon-Dixon-English. Your winner: somehow, nobody. Had some Denmon-English-Dixon picks, and lots of Denmon-English and Denmon-Dixon combinations, but ... no winner!

Alright, so first things first: was that a legitimate charge on Tyshawn Taylor with 10 seconds left?

From our seats, I didn't actually see the play well enough to know, one way or the other, whether that was a good call. I had to wait until I got home to check it out; having seen the Internet reaction, I expected a much dicier call than I actually saw. Dixon's feet were set, and Taylor leaned in. If Taylor goes straight up, he gets an easy jumper. He did not. If you want to complain about the charge on Thomas Robinson with 1:45 left, I'll listen. (There was certainly contact, but that was still a hell of a lot shakier than the foul on Taylor.) But in the refs' meager defense ... they called that charge almost all night long. I'm a consistency guy -- call it one way all night (even if I disagree somewhat with your definition), and by the end of the game, the players should know what they can and cannot do; and these refs were charge-happy. Mizzou took infinitely better advantage of that than Kansas did.

In the end, yes, I think it was a charge. And while I was a little surprised to see it called with 10 seconds left ... I'm also a big "if you're going to call it 10 minutes into the game, call it exactly the same way at the end" guy. Ten minutes into the first half, nobody's even thinking about complaining about that call. (And besides, you think I'm going to worry about a call like that after what constituted Ricardo Ratliffe's fourth foul? Really?) There were bad calls all around (Taylor's charge probably wasn't one of them), and when the game ended, Mizzou had scored three more points than Kansas.

Mizzou 74, Kansas 71

Round By Round

One fascinating aspect of this game was the sheer number of momentum swings. There were double-digit lead changes in the first half alone, and both teams looked like they might pull away multiple times. Mizzou led by as many as seven, Kansas as many as eight, but the other team always had a response.

To elaborate on this point, let's look at the "round-by-round" action. (One again, one "round" is one TV timeout segment. So Round 1 takes place from the opening tip to the first TV timeout, and so on, and so forth.)

Mizzou Kansas
Round Pts Per
(Details) Pts Per
(Details) Boxing
1 1.00 7 poss, 7 pts 1.86 7 poss, 13 pts 10-9 KU
2 1.17 6 poss, 7 pts 0.33 6 poss, 2 pts 10-9 MU
3 1.00 8 poss, 8 pts 0.86 7 poss, 6 pts 10-10
4 1.14 7 poss, 8 pts 1.38 8 poss, 11 pts 10-9 KU
5 1.50 6 poss, 9 pts 0.40 5 poss, 2 pts 10-8 MU
6 0.56 9 poss, 5 pts 1.30 10 poss, 13 pts 10-8 KU
7 1.60 5 poss, 8 pts 1.80 5 poss, 9 pts 10-10
8 1.13 8 poss, 9 pts 0.86 7 poss, 6 pts 10-9 MU
9 0.50 4 poss, 2 pts 1.75 4 poss, 7 pts 10-9 KU
10 1.83 6 poss, 11 pts 0.29 7 poss, 2 pts 10-8 MU

Some thoughts:

  • It felt like Kansas was a lot hotter early on than they actually were. They made three of their first four 3-pointers but missed seven of their final eight in the half. They were smoking hot in the first round, but it fizzled pretty quickly, and the fact that they scored just eight points in 13 possessions in rounds two and three bought Missouri some time.
  • Kansas' final six possessions: Robinson travel, Robinson charge, Taylor turnover, Taylor missed free throws, Taylor charge, terrible Johnson 3-pointer. That's one official field goal attempt in six possessions. Meanwhile, Mizzou scored 11 points on just five possessions. I might be inclined to feel a lot worse about the officiating if Kansas had not done so incredibly much to fall apart on their own.
  • The "fight" took on an oddly symmetrical flow: Kansas comes out of the gates firing, fizzles a little and lets Mizzou off the ropes, rallies with some more flurries, then completely falls apart at the end.

    Rounds 1 and 6
    Mizzou: 16 possessions, 12 points
    Kansas: 17 possessions, 26 points (KU +14)

    Rounds 2 and 7
    Mizzou: 11 possessions, 15 points
    Kansas: 11 possessions, 11 points (MU +4)

    Rounds 3 and 8
    Mizzou: 16 possessions, 17 points
    Kansas: 14 possessions, 12 points (MU +5)

    Rounds 4 and 9
    Mizzou: 11 possessions, 10 points
    Kansas: 12 possessions, 18 points (KU +8)

    Rounds 5 and 10
    Mizzou: 12 possessions, 20 points
    Kansas: 12 possessions, four points (MU +16)

    Always be closing, huh?
Pace (No. of Possessions) 67.0
Points Per Minute 1.85 1.78
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.10 1.06
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.54 1.27
2-PT FG% 57.7% 60.0%
3-PT FG% 45.5% 37.5%
FT% 70.0% 55.6%
True Shooting % 65.1% 59.2%
Mizzou KU
Assists 13 12
Steals 4 7
Turnovers 14 15
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.21 1.27
Mizzou KU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9 10
Offensive Rebounds 4 7
Difference -5 -3

Skin Of The Teeth

Mizzou allowed a True Shooting Percentage of 59.2%, got beaten in the ball control department, and was almost entirely nonexistent on the offensive glass. But a) thanks mostly to Marcus Denmon and Michael Dixon (combined: 14-for-21 from the field, 8-for-12 on 3-pointers), they shot really, really well for the first time in a while, and b) they did an absolutely wonderful job (all things considered) on the defensive glass. Denmon had more defensive rebounds (eight) than Jeff Withey, Justin Wesley and Kevin Young combined (five); yeah, when you see his obscene AdjGS score below, you know why. He scored 29 points on 16 shots and almost recorded a double-double. He must have just been saving all of this in recent games; I'll take it.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 34.2 0.88 39 Min, 29 Pts (10-16 FG, 6-9 3PT, 3-4 FT), 9 Reb, 2 Ast
Mike Dixon 20.0 0.63 32 Min, 15 Pts (4-5 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-7 FT), 5 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 TO
Kim English 14.4 0.38 38 Min, 18 Pts (5-11 FG, 2-7 3PT, 6-6 FT), 3 Reb, 3 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 3.6 0.18 20 Min, 6 Pts (3-5 FG, 0-2 FT), 4 Reb, 4 PF
Steve Moore 0.8 0.04 22 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 2 Reb, 2 TO
Matt Pressey 0.3 0.01 22 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-2 3PT)
Phil Pressey -1.1 -0.04 27 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-1 FT), 3 Ast, 2 Reb, 3 TO
  • It is just impossible to quantify how good Marcus Denmon was yesterday. In his previous five games, Denmon had made five of 31 3-pointers. Last night, he made six of nine. In his previous four games, he had averaged 4.5 rebounds per game. Last night, he doubled that. He lost his jumper at the beginning of the second half, but to say the least, he found it again at the end. He was magnificent.
  • With both Presseys struggling, it was an absolute imperative that Mike Dixon produce. He didn't make his first basket until "round five," but for most of the game's final 23 minutes (barring one incredible, 60-second surge from Denmon), he basically was the Missouri offense.
  • It is just amazing how well Kim English lets the game come to him now. He had a "quiet" 18 points yesterday and, in perhaps the most telling possession of the game, he passed on a decent 3-pointer with under two minutes left, choosing instead to find the hot hand. The ball was rotated to the other end of the court, where Denmon hit the go-ahead 3-pointer.
  • I felt so bad for Ricardo Ratliffe. Mizzou committed ten fewer fouls than Kansas, but Ratliffe couldn't buy a call. At least two of his four fouls, maybe three, fell into the "I don't know how he could have done anything different without letting Robinson walk to the basket unimpeded" category. But in a way, it was a blessing in disguise; while Mizzou absolutely missed Ratliffe's offense, Steve Moore did a much better job of bodying Robinson up and defending him. Bill Carter and I were comparing it to the job Monte Hardge did against Marcus Fizer a decade or so ago. Robinson was much quicker than Moore, and he still scored some points on STEEEVE, too, but a) he had to work much harder for his points, and b) on many occasions, he failed to establish good position and had to either settle for a jumper or pass the ball back out.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Denmon 29% 52% 2.6 35% 47% 12% 6%
Dixon 18% 57% 4.1 68% 12% 16% 5%
English 25% 40% 2.1 23% 43% 23% 12%
Ratliffe 19% 43% 2.1 42% 36% 14% 7%
Moore 8% 29% 0.4 0% 33% 0% 67%
M. Pressey 15% 19% 1.6 50% 42% 0% 8%
P. Pressey 18% 21% 3.0 66% 19% 4% 11%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (To say the least.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (No.)
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. (No.)
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. Kimmie was a bit careless in terms of ball control (as was most of the team), and Flip Pressey really couldn't get his drive-and-dish game going (Kansas' on-the-ball defending was as good as ever), but Denmon took over, English was plenty efficient, and Mike Dixon perfectly toed the point guard/shooting guard line.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's Preview:

Extreme Matchups

Pretend you are Frank Haith for a moment. What is your chosen strategy? single-cover Thomas Robinson (perhaps with Ricardo Ratliffe) and throw most of your might at harassing the perimeter in the hopes of bringing out Bad Tyshawn and giving Mizzou a significant advantage in the backcourt (while leaving yourself vulnerable to a career day from Jeff Withey and, perhaps, Robinson himself)? Or do you focus most of your energy on negating Kansas' own advantages, double Robinson, and hope that Taylor, Johnson, Releford, etc., don't catch fire? Mizzou has some pretty substantial advantages they could choose to maximize, but it might come at the cost of maximizing Kansas' advantages as well. Strategies, tactics and straight-up coaching will play a major role in this one. (Yes, it always does, but you see my point.)

In the first half, it almost seemed as if Robinson was a decoy for a while. Any time Mizzou leaned toward doubling Robinson, somebody got an open 3-pointer. It worked for Kansas early enough that they kept settling for perimeter jumpers even as Mizzou moved more toward single-coverage on Robinson. Everybody in the building knew Kansas was going to adjust in the second half, and they did -- he took shots on six of Kansas' first seven second-half possessions and scored seven points -- but in the end, Mizzou did enough defensively to hold a good offense to 1.05 points per possession (season average: 1.12), and when it came time to make stops at the end of the half, they very much did it.

The Long Ball

Kansas has only one player who makes more than 36 percent of his 3-pointers (Taylor) and only two more who are above 33 percent (Releford, Teahan). Meanwhile, Mizzou has one over 40 percent (Kim English) and two more over 33 percent (Marcus Denmon, Matt Pressey). As we know, however, that doesn't tell a good portion of the story. In the last six games, Denmon and English have made just 27 percent of their 3's (17-for-62; Denmon himself is just 9-for-40); meanwhile, Taylor is 13-for-27 in his last five games after shooting just 5-for-20 in the five before that. Both teams are incredibly streaky from downtown, and while both have proven themselves capable of winning games without relying on the 3-pointer (a huge step forward for Mizzou in particular), if one team catches fire, they will derive a significant advantage.

Mizzou: 10-for-22 (Denmon 6-for-9, Dixon 2-for-3)
Kansas: 6-for-16 (Elijah Johnson 1-for-7, Tyshawn Taylor 2-for-5, Connor Teahan 2-for-2)

Both teams were hot from long range early on, but thanks to Denmon and Dixon, Mizzou won this battle over the course of the entire game.

The Supporting Cast

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.

Johnson's mid-range game was a nice weapon (4-for-5 on 2-pointers), and Teahan knocked down both open looks he got, but in the end, players not named Robinson and Taylor scored just 25 points on 10-for-24 shooting, Jeff Withey was nearly non-existent, and it indeed put too much pressure on Taylor and Robinson; those two combined for 46 points, but they needed 50 to win.


No more analysis, just a table.

And guys? If you want to stay at the top of this table, you need to have a pretty good recovery day today. Oklahoma will have their A-game ready tomorrow night.


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.