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Study Hall: Mizzou 71, Oklahoma 68

Your Trifecta: Ratliffe-Denmon-Dixon. A pretty standard Trifecta produces three winners: 1Believer (who wins the 'first' award), stlcardsfan4, and Dr. Ausgiano.

Not that anybody here needs reassurance, but out of curiosity I decided to look at how past Mizzou conference champions of my lifetime fared on the road against foes in the bottom half of their conference. We know that survive-and-advance is the name of the game, especially when you have to play just 44 hours after your most intense game of the year, but consider this a thought exercise of sorts.

  • 1994: Mizzou 80, Colorado 72; Mizzou 79, Iowa State 72 (OT); Mizzou 68, Kansas State 57, Mizzou 104, Oklahoma 94 -- 4-0 with an overtime victory and no win by more than 11 points.
  • 1990: Mizzou 104, Colorado 89; Mizzou 111, Nebraska 95; Mizzou 95, Iowa State 93; Mizzou 72, Oklahoma State 71 -- 4-0 with two wins by two points or less.
  • 1987: Mizzou 76, Colorado 68; Mizzou 69, Oklahoma State 68; Iowa State 96, Mizzou 92; Mizzou 87, Nebraska 71 -- 3-1 with a one-point win and a loss in Ames.
  • 1983: Mizzou 68, Colorado 64 (2OT); Mizzou 76, Kansas 63; Mizzou 49, Kansas State 47; Iowa State 73, Mizzou 72 (OT) -- 3-1 with an overtime loss in Ames, a double-overtime win and a two-point loss.
  • 1982: Mizzou 72, Colorado 50; Mizzou 42, Kansas 41; Mizzou 86, Iowa State 73; Mizzou 44, Nebraska 42 -- 4-0 with two wins by two points or less.
  • 1981: Mizzou 70, Iowa State 56; Oklahoma 60, Mizzou 55; Mizzou 73, Colorado 62; Mizzou 82, Oklahoma State 65 -- 3-1 with a loss in Norman
  • 1980: Mizzou 69, Oklahoma State 64; Mizzou 84, Iowa State 70; Oklahoma 78, Mizzou 73; Kansas 69, Mizzou 66 -- 2-2 with losses in Norman and Lawrence

I had committed to sharing the details of this before I realized what the details would actually be, but I think the message is simple and predictable: playing on the road is really hard, even against the bottom teams in the conference. Thus far, Mizzou is 2-1 in such games this year -- they beat Texas (67-66), beat Oklahoma (71-68) and lost to Oklahoma State (79-72) -- and it probably goes without saying that they will need to beat Texas A&M and Texas Tech on the road as well if they are interested in winning their first conference title in 18 years.

Oklahoma is an improving team, and as sarcastic as we were becoming last night -- "Oh look, another cold-shooting team catches fire against Missouri" -- that tends to be what happens when top teams go on the road. Maybe you sneak in an easy win here or there, but maybe not. Mizzou's defense was shaky and slow early yesterday evening, and once Oklahoma made some open shots, they grew confident. And once confident, even good defense led to quite a few made jumpers. It's what happens. But Mizzou won anyway. Good sign.

Mizzou 71, Oklahoma 68

Pace (No. of Possessions) 65.0
Points Per Minute 1.78 1.70
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.09 1.05
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.48 1.33
2-PT FG% 74.1% 48.7%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 58.3%
FT% 55.6% 39.1%
True Shooting % 63.5% 55.6%
Mizzou OU
Assists 19 18
Steals 10 6
Turnovers 12 16
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.42 1.50
Mizzou OU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8 11
Offensive Rebounds 3 13
Difference -5 +2

The Charity Stripe

What an odd shooting game for Oklahoma. The free throw line is typically called the "charity stripe" because of the free, undefended points it gives the offense; last night, it was Oklahoma donating points to Missouri (9-for-23 from the line) after stealing so many from the field. Heading into the game, Oklahoma was making 31% of their 3-pointers and 77% of their free throws. Therefore 12 3-point attempts and 23 free throw attempts should have produced in the neighborhood of 29 points; last night those shots produced 30 points ... the hard way. That's like rolling dice and getting a seven ... with an eight and a minus-one.

The Unkind Glass

Against Kansas on Saturday, Mizzou was minus-2 in terms of expected rebounds. Considering the English-versus-Withey matchup, that is a perfectly respectable result. Against mountainous Baylor a couple of weeks ago, Mizzou was plus-3. Against Oklahoma a month ago, they were plus-7. Last night: minus-7. Mizzou's legs were stable for the most part on the jumpers, but this, plus Oklahoma's strong shooting percentages from the field, suggests that they were a step slow on defense. Oklahoma went cold at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, but second-chance opportunities allowed them to lurk until they got hot again.

The Kind Rims

As much as we were complaining about Oklahoma's jump-shooting, Mizzou's own ability to put the ball in the hoop saved them. The 3-pointers only really fell for Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon (and, with a minute left in the game, Kim English), but on 2-pointers, Ricardo Ratliffe went 6-for-6, Denmon went 5-for-7, English went 2-for-3, Phil Pressey went 2-for-3, Mike Dixon went 3-for-5, and Matt Pressey went 2-for-3. It is a nice reminder of a) how efficient Mizzou can be at times and b) the fact that they were shooting too many damn 3's last night at times (for the game: 27 2-point attempts, 21 3-point attempts).

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Ricardo Ratliffe 18.8 0.59 32 Min, 15 Pts (6-6 FG, 3-5 FT), 10 Reb (3 Off), 4 PF
Marcus Denmon 18.1 0.47 39 Min, 25 Pts (9-16 FG, 4-9 3PT, 3-3 FT), 2 Stl, 4 TO
Mike Dixon 12.8 0.53 24 Min, 13 Pts (5-11 FG, 2-6 3PT, 1-2 FT), 5 Ast
Kim English 7.8 0.21 37 Min, 8 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF
Phil Pressey 7.2 0.26 28 Min, 5 Pts (2-3 FG, 1-2 FT), 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF
Matt Pressey 2.9 0.10 29 Min, 5 Pts (2-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-4 FT), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Steve Moore 1.9 0.18 11 Min, 0 Pts, 3 Reb
  • According to Mizzou historian Tom Orf, a Mizzou player has shot 100 percent from the field (on at least six attempts) eight times in the Big 12 era: Derek Grimm (7-for-7 versus Oklahoma in 1997), Johnnie Parker (6-for-6 versus Texas A&M in 2000), Travon Bryant (8-for-8 versus UNC-Greensboro in 2004), Leo Lyons (6-for-6 versus Baylor in 2007), Keith Ramsey (6-for-6 versus Colorado in 2010), and Ricardo Ratliffe three times this year -- versus Binghamton (7-for-7), Villanova (8-for-8) and Oklahoma (6-for-6). Plus, he had 100 percent of Mizzou's offensive rebounds, which sounds more impressive until you realize the team had only three.
  • At this point, I feel I am doing a better and better job of noticing the minor details when it comes to football; blocking, route-running, etc. In basketball, however, I still miss things. I had no idea that Marcus Denmon had four turnovers until I saw the box score, and if you'd have asked me how many assists Phil Pressey had, I'd have guessed about three. Not seven. Flip still took plenty off of the table last night -- three turnovers, four fouls, and some general sloppiness at times -- but he also put a lot more on it than I expected. Still, five days of rest should do him good. This wasn't his best pair of games.
  • We'll just go ahead and say that regression toward the mean seems to have wrecked Big Pressey's game over the last three days as well. His shooting percentages had crept ahead of Marcus Denmon's, and then he went 3-for-10 in two games (0-for-4 on 3-pointers) while Denmon shot 19-for-32 (10-for-18).
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Ratliffe 17% 68% 1.7 33% 34% 27% 6%
Denmon 32% 40% 1.8 0% 70% 12% 18%
Dixon 29% 48% 5.5 70% 26% 4% 0%
English 16% 39% 2.9 68% 20% 5% 6%
P. Pressey 14% 49% 5.4 84% 6% 4% 6%
M. Pressey 18% 29% 2.4 52% 22% 17% 9%
Moore 0% N/A 0.0 N/A N/A N/A N/A

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. (Yes!)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (No.)

Six-for-seven. From a style perspective, Mizzou was almost exactly where they needed to be yesterday. But defensively, they allowed the same points per possession versus Oklahoma (1.05) as they did versus Kansas, and that shouldn't happen.

Three Keys Revisited

From yesterday's preview:

Road Things

Always. Offensive rebounds, fouls and Phil Pressey. Mizzou showed against Texas that they can win without these three things breaking well for them, but it will be hard for them to lose if they win in these three categories.

Expected Rebounds: Mizzou -7
Fouls: Mizzou 18, Oklahoma 17
Phil Pressey: 28 minutes, 5 points (2-3 FG), 7 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls

Rebounds went Oklahoma's way, fouls were even, and Flip Pressey was both good and bad. Due to rebounds alone, however, we'll say Mizzou lost the Road Things yesterday.


Specifically, legs on the jump shot. Oklahoma is not a big-time shot-blocking team, and Ricardo Ratliffe could have some success (lord knows he might be the freshest of Mizzou's seven players after his Saturday night foul trouble), but life gets infinitely easier for Mizzou if the jumpers fall, especially early on. They weren't for a while, and they very much did Saturday night. What happens tonight?

Mizzou 3-pointers: 7-for-21 (Denmon & Dixon: 6-for-15)

33.3% obviously isn't amazing, but Mizzou made the ones that counted.

Keep Pledger Cool

The last time Mizzou traveled to Oklahoma following a big win, they played well enough to take a lead but couldn't pull away; and then Le'Bryan Nash got hot and carried Oklahoma State to a win. If there is a Nash in this game, it is Steven Pledger, Oklahoma's only true high-volume perimeter scorer. He will probably need a huge game for the Sooners to pull the upset, but he has had big games recently. His ceiling isn't as high as Nash's, but it's high enough to give Mizzou problems. Stop him.

Steven Pledger: 22 points (8-14 FG, 5-9 3PT)

Mizzou most certainly did not stop him. And then stupid bounces gave him his most open look of the night at the buzzer.


The schedule was a bit cruel in the way that it forced Mizzou to head out of town and play so soon after the Kansas game. But now that they have survived, the schedule becomes kind -- Mizzou now gets to rest for another five days before welcoming Baylor to town.

And oh, what a week Baylor has. They host Kansas on Wednesday, then head to Columbia on Saturday. They could either be the frontrunner for the conference title by Sunday, or they could be virtually eliminated from the race. The best-case scenario for Mizzou's title hopes: Baylor beats Kansas, then (obviously) Mizzou beats Baylor. Assuming a loss in Lawrence, Mizzou will be in good position to win the title if they win out otherwise, at least as long as Kansas loses one other game, preferably in Waco or Manhattan. This is a huge week for all teams involved in the race, but then again, every week is huge from here on out.


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.