Your Trifecta: Pressey-Brown-Bowers. Your winner: nobody. Because just about everybody included Alex Oriakhi in their picks. Whoops.
There are lots of numbers below, obviously, but really, this game came down to three numbers: 17, 6, and 1.
17. Points scored by LSU in the game's first seven minutes.
6. Points scored by Missouri in the game's first seven minutes.
1. Points scored by Alex Oriakhi.
That's pretty much the story, right? For the game as a whole, Mizzou survived the ball control battle (won it, actually), dominated on the glass, and outscored LSU by eight over the final 33 minutes. But the Tigers once again dug themselves an enormous early hole, and Alex Oriakhi was once again a total no-show.
Or, to put it another way...
But the nightmare scenario here is obvious. If LSU can jump out to an early lead, get somebody hot from 3-point land, and punish Mizzou enough with its press that the Tigers are allowing just enough easy points to prevent them from coming back, this could quite easily be a loss. We know that scenario exists, and the odds of it rearing its ugly head might be better than we wish it were.
The press wasn't that much of an impediment, but the early hole and occasional easy baskets sure were.
UConn fans warned us
When it became official that Alex Oriakhi was coming to Mizzou, a couple of UConn fans came over to tell us a little bit about him. The general consensus: He's incredibly likable, and he'll go to a really negative place sometimes. Here's how that translates statistically:
Alex Oriakhi in Mizzou's wins versus "real" teams: 28.6 MPG, 13.3 PPG (69% 2PT, 89% FT), 9.0 RPG, 1.1 TOPG
Alex Oriakhi in Mizzou's losses: 21.2 MPG, 5.8 PPG (55% 2PT, 39% FT), 5.2 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
Oriakhi fought some awful foul trouble in the second half last night, but he was pretty awful in the first half with minimal foul issues. He leaves his heart at Mizzou Arena, apparently. That absolutely cannot continue. His production simply means too much to this team for that to continue.
100% Health ... I Don't Remember What That's Like
On the morning of December 23, Mizzou was 10-1. Jabari Brown was quickly getting integrated, and while Mike Dixon's shooting was still missed, Mizzou was 20th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings and becoming more well-rounded by the day. Then Tony Criswell got hurt, depriving Mizzou of perhaps its best offensive rebounder in advance of the trip to UCLA (a game Mizzou possibly would have won with even one more offensive board). Then Laurence Bowers got hurt, depriving Mizzou of its steadiest scorer. Then Keion Bell started hobbling around, giving Mizzou a short bench during a near disaster against South Carolina. Then Bell got hurt again, depriving Mizzou of its best perimeter defender and another ball-handler against LSU.
I don't want this to seem like a "Hey, injuries, man. What can you do?" post, because it isn't. Even with a rusty Bowers and no Bell, Mizzou should have won last night. But ... man. The last time Mizzou was at full health, they ranked 20th in the country according to Pomeroy. We wake up this morning, and they're 44th.
A Flawed Squad
You are a hostage to the combination of 13 personalities, basically. And when you are putting a squad together, you never know what kind of collective personality it will develop until you see it for yourself. Frank Haith's second Mizzou squad was screwed terribly by the Mike Dixon situation (to say the Tigers could use his fire and scoring ability is a gross understatement); beyond that, however, you could pretty easily make the case that this team is just too damn laid back, at least when Alex Oriakhi (or Earnest Ross) isn't firing it up. Jabari Brown's laid-back demeanor is very good late in games (he was excellent down the stretch last night, and he of course made the dagger 3 against South Carolina a week ago), but it's ... less than a good thing early on.
As dcrockett17 put it earlier, this team can take a punch, and that might not be a bad thing come tourney time, but there is also not enough fire to prevent the team from taking quite a few punches before responding. It took LSU just three minutes to go on an early 11-0 run, one that turned a 6-6 tie into a 17-6 lead. If Mizzou had simply cut that off at 8-0 or 6-0, the game could have turned out completely differently.
A Bump To The Noggin
Obviously Phil Pressey had his bad moments through the first 35 minutes (usually involving a bricked 3-pointer), but Good Flip beat out Bad Flip for the most part, so no complaints. But with 3:38 left, he made a runner (which cut LSU's lead to 61-58) and took a shot to the head in the process. Over the next 30 seconds, he committed a turnover, then committed a foul on a 3-point shot by Andre Stringer, one which led to a four-point play. That cost Mizzou five to seven points in a three-point loss. If Mizzou actually had a backup point guard, Frank Haith could have perhaps subbed Pressey out of the game, at least briefly, when it was clear that his head was ringing. But Mizzou doesn't, Haith couldn't, and Pressey made some killer mistakes while he got his bearings.
LSU 73, Mizzou 70
|Pace (No. of Possessions)||63.4|
|Points Per Possession (PPP)||1.10||1.15|
|Points Per Shot (PPS)||1.15||1.62|
|True Shooting %||49.5%||63.7%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||14||9|
...if you'd told me Mizzou was going to win the BCI battle and crush LSU on the boards, my prediction would have been about a 22-point win.
Mizzou Player Stats
(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)
|Phil Pressey||26.7||0.69||39 Min, 25 Pts (9-21 FG, 1-9 3PT, 6-6 FT), 5 Ast, 4 Reb (2 Off), 4 Stl, 3 TO|
|Jabari Brown||16.8||0.43||39 Min, 19 Pts (5-13 FG, 4-10 3PT, 5-8 FT), 7 Reb, 4 PF|
|Laurence Bowers||10.4||0.32||32 Min, 10 Pts (4-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb (4 Off)|
|Earnest Ross||7.4||0.39||19 Min, 7 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb|
|Tony Criswell||5.6||0.25||22 Min, 5 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-2 FT, 9 Reb (6 Off)|
|Negus Webster-Chan||3.0||0.13||23 Min, 3 Pts (1-4 FG, 1-2 3PT), 3 Reb|
|Ryan Rosburg||0.4||0.05||9 Min|
|Alex Oriakhi||-0.1||-0.01||16 Min, 1 Pt (0-2 FG, 1-2 FT), 3 Reb, 4 PF|
|Stefan Jankovic||-0.5||-0.55||1 Min|
- Alex Oriakhi averages 18.2 Adj. GS points per game in wins versus real teams, 6.8 in losses. If he had managed even 6.8 last night, this would have been a win. Please get your s*** together on the road, AO, I beg you.
- Hey, while I'm in a begging mood ... please rebound like this the rest of the year, Tony Criswell. Goodness, you were a beast in the second half.
- Two straight games with a positive Adj. GS for NWC. It's a start.
- Laurence Bowers looked terribly rusty over his first 10-15 minutes of action, more so than I anticipated. But after that, he looked like Laurence Bowers. That was heartening.
Three Keys Revisited
That's basically what the press is all about, right? Mizzou lived by them in the Mike Anderson years. Steal enough free points and easy scoring opportunities that you can overcome your deficiencies (of which LSU has plenty) or offensive lulls. We know that Phil Pressey is going to attempt to split a double-team in the backcourt and turn the ball over at least twice, and unless Pressey plays 40 minutes, we know somebody like Negus Webster-Chan or Jabari Brown is going to make a couple of bad passes in the backcourt that lead to easy break opportunities as well. That's potentially 8-10 free points for LSU. The key to this game will be matching those opportunities, either through breaking the press and creating easy scores of your own, or simply punishing LSU for its own major deficiencies (i.e. turnovers) and getting good looks because of it. If you match LSU, easy score for easy score, the Bayou Bengals probably can't win.
Honestly, Mizzou minimized LSU's fast-break opportunities for the most part. But the steal-dunk-steal-dunk combination during LSU's early, damning 11-0 run was devastating.
Oriakhi vs. O'Bryant
Alex Oriakhi averages 11 points and nine rebounds per game. In Mizzou wins versus "real" opponents, he averages 13 and 9; in losses, 7 and 6. O'Bryant, meanwhile, averages 11 and 8 -- 16 and 11 in their three best "real" games (wins over Seton Hall and Texas A&M and the tight loss at Kentucky) and 10 and 7 in their other losses. This will likely be a 1-on-1 matchup for much of the game; who wins it will determine a pretty good portion of the overall outcome.
Alex Oriakhi: 16 minutes, 1 point (0-2 FG, 1-2 FT), 3 rebounds
Johnny O'Bryant: 38 minutes, 14 points (4-9 FG, 6-11 FT), 11 rebounds
I don't know ... who do you think won that battle?
Brown & Ross. Of course.
You don't need me to explain this one anymore than I have in recent weeks. When Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross shoot well, Mizzou probably wins. When they shoot terribly, they quite possibly don't. And there seems to be almost no in-between. Mizzou needs these two to shoot at least 40% from the field, but it's usually either 50% or better, or 25% or worse.
Brown & Ross, First Half: 6 points on 2-for-7 shooting (29%)
Brown & Ross, Second Half: 20 points on 5-for-12 shooting (42%)
I said Mizzou needed 40% from these two, and they got 37%. One more jumper would have been lovely.
I said heading into last night that we didn't know if Mizzou was truly suffering "road woes" or not; their only three road games were against a decent UCLA team, a good Ole Miss team, and a nearly flawless Florida team. But with another early drought, and another disappearing act from Oriakhi, in Baton Rouge, we've officially reached "road woes" territory.
LSU is a dangerous, streaky team, one that has played perhaps its two best games in the last week. Plus, Mizzou was once again missing one of its starters, got some unlucky breaks (and an unlucky shot to Phil Pressey's head), and played reasonably well over the final 33 minutes. In a vacuum, a loss like this is at least palatable in and of itself, one of those "stuff happens and basketball is stupid sometimes" games. But "Mizzou stinks on the road" has now become a thing, and good health or no, it is Mizzou's fault.
The Tigers head to College Station in a week, and they will do so with a monkey on their collective back. Maybe Keion Bell's return, or Laurence Bowers' full shaking off of rust, will provide just enough of a spark to get Mizzou over this self-made hump, but ... let's just say that a team going 0-9 in SEC road games isn't a team that will make the NCAA Tournament. I'm not worried about that by any means -- not on January 31 -- but I'm getting impatient. And after last night, Mizzou has to earn back some benefit-of-the-doubt. The Tigers are now running low in that category.
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.
Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: 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 an offensively limited center, 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.