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2014 National Invitation Tournament: Davidson at Missouri preview

Davidson frequently lives and dies by the 3-pointer; Missouri, meanwhile, frequently lives and dies by opponents' 3-pointers. The Davidson defense might not have an answer for Mizzou's offense, but the 3-ball will likely decide this one.

Streeter Lecka

This might be the first of five NIT games for Missouri and a springboard for solid success next year, especially if Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown return. Or ... it could be the last time we see both Clarkson and Brown in a Mizzou uniform and it could be the precursor to another rebuilding year in 2014-15. We have no idea. This is a strange time to be a Mizzou basketball fan.

Davidson Wildcats (20-12)

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.16 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.39 1.34
2-PT FG% 54% 51%
3-PT FG% 38% 36%
FT% 71% 70%
True Shooting % 59.1% 56.0%

Davidson Opponent
Assists/Gm 13.7 10.9
Steals/Gm 5.4 5.7
Turnovers/Gm 11.5 12.5
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.66 1.33

Davidson Opponent
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 10.2 10.3
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 9.7 9.2
Difference -0.5 -1.1

Let me guess: Your eyes went straight to the "Davidson shoots 38% from 3-point range" part, didn't they...

Davidson indeed shoots the basketball very well. The Wildcats have a strong offense in general, with decent ball-handling to go with their good shooting; if the jumpers are falling, they can hang with a lot of teams. They made 11 of 28 3-pointers against Wichita State and trailed by just five points with 10 minutes left. They made nine of 23 against North Carolina and took the Tar Heels to overtime. You can also die by the jumper -- they were 3-for-21 against Duke (lost by 34), 6-for-21 against Clemson (lost by 31), 8-for-29 against New Mexico (lost by 21), 6-for-30 against Niagara (lost by 11), and 3-for-22 against Drexel (lost by 14) -- and Davidson probably isn't a good enough defensive or rebounding team to beat a top-100 team without shooting well. But yeah ... Davidson loves to shoot the 3-ball, and Mizzou is happy to oblige in that regard.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

DC Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

DC Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 36 160 DC big
Effective FG% 12 98 DC
Turnover % 67 311 DC big
Off. Reb. % 259 123 MU big
FTA/FGA 210 120 MU
MU Offense vs DC Defense Ranks

MU Offense DC Defense Advantage
Efficiency 31 257 MU big
Effective FG% 108 256 MU big
Turnover % 234 218 push
Off. Reb. % 53 51 push
FTA/FGA 15 271 MU big

Where the Wildcats are weakest

First things first: Davidson doesn't have an enormous bench. The Wildcats rank 205th in Bench Minutes, which could be a huge thing in this one thanks to Missouri's own tiny bench (the Tigers will likely be playing just seven scholarship players tonight). They're also 240th in Effective Height and 259th in offensive rebounding. They don't draw fouls (210th in FTA/FGA) or pass guys open incredibly well (203rd in Assists Per FG Made) -- they're simply a jump-shooting, high-variance offense.

Defensively, Davidson is ... not particularly good. The Wildcats rank 257th in overall defensive efficiency, and while ball-handling plays into this (218th in TO%, 289th in Steal%), it's mostly because they can't prevent you from getting good looks at the basket: they're 245th in 2PT%, 266th in 3PT%, 230th in FT%, 271st in FTA/FGA, and 345th in Block%. Now, the 3-point percentage could be misleading (we'll get to that below), but if Mizzou is dumping the ball into the post a bit and attacking the basket, the Tigers should have no excuse for averaging below about 1.10 or 1.15 points per possession.

Where they are best

You may shoot well against them, but they can shoot even better -- the Wildcats rank 17th in 2PT% and 39th in 3PT% (and 48th in 3PA/FGA, meaning they take a ton of 3s). They don't turn the ball over (67th in TO%, 97th in Steal%), and lord knows Mizzou doesn't turn anybody over very much, so Davidson will get at least one decent look at the basket on almost every possession.

On defense, Davidson does box out rather well; the Wildcats rank 51st in defensive rebounding, which is a rather sharp contrast to the other end of the court. And while opponents tend to make a pretty high percentage of their 3s, Davidson doesn't necessarily give you many great looks -- the defense ranks 12th in 3PA/FGA allowed and 10th in Assists Per FG Made. It seems Davidson rotates well, plays aggressively on the perimeter, and boxes out. The Wildcats are sound in that regard, though other numbers suggest the talent/height/athleticism might not be up to par.

Davidson's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from
    vs. No. 75 Georgia (94-82)
    at No. 176 Charlotte (87-78, OT)
    at No. 184 Wofford (78-63)
    No. 184 Wofford (59-49)
    at No. 200 Elon (86-69)
    at No. 235 Western Carolina (82-77)
    No. 272 Chattanooga (94-51)
    No. 291 Georgia Southern (82-52)
    at No. 291 Georgia Southern (88-73)
    at No. 316 Samford (109-88)
    vs. No. 316 Samford (77-54)
    at No. 317 UNC Greensboro (93-82)
    No. 317 UNC Greensboro (79-46)
    No. 331 Appalachian State (78-66)
    at No. 335 Stetson (86-80)
    at No. 340 Furman (73-56)
    No. 340 Furman (65-50)
    No. 346 The Citadel (62-43)
    at No. 346 The Citadel (83-76)
  • Losses
    No. 4 Virginia (57-70)
    at No. 5 Wichita State (70-81)
    at No. 7 Duke (77-111)
    at No. 26 North Carolina (85-97, OT)
    vs. No. 28 New Mexico (58-79)
    vs. No. 51 Clemson (54-85)
    No. 134 Drexel (58-72)
    No. 163 Milwaukee (77-81)
    No. 200 Elon (85-87, OT)
    No. 206 College of Charleston (64-76)
    vs. No. 235 Western Carolina (97-99, OT)
    at No. 275 Niagara (72-83)

In part because Davidson relies on the 3-ball, the Wildcats' results have varied quite a bit. They're 4-3 against teams ranked between 101st and 200th ... and also 4-3 against teams ranking 201st to 300th. But if you look at averages, you see a trend.

Davidson vs. Top 100 (1-6): Opponent 86, Davidson 71 (minus-15)
Davidson vs. No. 101-200 (4-3): Davidson 76, Opponent 71 (plus-5)
Davidson vs. No. 201-300 (4-3): Davidson 83, Opponent 73 (plus-10)
Davidson vs. No. 301+ (10-0): Davidson 81, Opponent 64 (plus-17)

Against lesser opponents, Davidson's sound defense gets the job done. But against higher-upside units (and Mizzou certainly still has plenty of offensive upside), the Wildcats can't get stops. Teams ranked worse than 300th average 64 PPG against Davidson; teams ranked 100th or better average 86. That puts a lot of pressure on the DC offense to keep up.

Davidson Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
De'Mon Brooks (6'7, 230, Sr.) 18.8 0.70 26.8 MPG, 18.7 PPG (61% 2PT, 47% 3PT, 73% FT), 7.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.3 TOPG, 3.4 PFPG
Tyler Kalinoski (6'4, 180, Jr.) 14.4 0.43 33.7 MPG, 10.9 PPG (55% 2PT, 46% 3PT, 76% FT), 4.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.4 TOPG, 2.7 PFPG
Brian Sullivan (5'11, 175, So.) 11.7 0.38 30.8 MPG, 13.2 PPG (43% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 83% FT), 2.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 TOPG
Tom Droney (6'6, 200, Sr.) 10.4 0.34 30.9 MPG, 10.3 PPG (54% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 74% FT), 3.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.2 TOPG
Jack Gibbs (5'11, 195, Fr.) 7.0 0.35 20.2 MPG, 6.8 PPG (44% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 78% FT), 2.1 APG, 1.9 RPG, 1.3 TOPG
Chris Czerapowicz (6'7, 210, Sr.) 6.9 0.27 25.1 MPG, 8.7 PPG (50% 2PT, 28% 3PT, 71% FT), 4.3 RPG, 2.9 PFPG
Jordan Barham (6'4, 190, So.) 6.1 0.49 12.6 MPG, 5.9 PPG (63% 2PT, 57% FT), 3.1 RPG
Jake Belford (6'9, 210, So.) 4.7 0.31 15.1 MPG, 5.9 PPG (63% 2PT, 47% 3PT, 75% FT), 2.1 RPG, 1.2 TOPG, 2.3 PFPG
Andrew McAuliffe (6'8, 235, Fr.) 1.0 0.10 10.0 MPG, 2.3 PPG (54% 2PT, 19% FT), 1.5 RPG
Joe Aase (6'8, 220, Fr.) 0.3 0.05 6.3 MPG, 0.8 PPG, 1.0 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Brooks (32%), Sullivan (22%), Barham (22%)
  • Highest Floor%: Barham (48%), Brooks (47%), Kalinoski (47%)
  • Highest %Pass: Kalinoski (64%), Droney (61%), Gibbs (58%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Czerapowicz (54%), Barham (45%), Belford (44%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Barham (30%), Brooks (25%), Belford (13%)
  • Highest %T/O: Belford (14%), McAuliffe (14%), Brooks (8%)
  • Highest OR%: Brooks (10%), Barham (9%), Kalinoski (6%)
  • Highest DR%: Brooks (23%), Barham (21%), McAuliffe (14%)

  • Davidson averages 22 3-point attempts per game, but the offense goes through a power forward first. De'Mon Brooks only takes about one 3-pointer per game but takes 9-10 2-pointers and 7-8 free throws; he is a decent threat on the offensive glass, but if you can slow him down, you make Davidson completely dependent on the 3-pointer.

  • Of course, as we well know, dependence on the 3 has worked quite well at times against Missouri. Brian Sullivan and Tyler Kalinoski combine to shoot 11 3s per game and make 41 percent of them. That's pretty scary.

Keys to the Game

  1. Who wants it? The NIT is simply about who wants to be there. Sometimes a team is disappointed about missing the NCAA Tournament and just kind of wants the season to end. Sometimes it wants redemption or a chance to prove the tourney committee wrong. If Mizzou is in the former camp, then especially considering this hilariously thin roster, the Tigers will bow out quietly, and the season will end at Davidson's hands. But Mizzou shows up and plays well, then even with just a seven man rotation, the Tigers should be too much to handle unless Davidson is shooting a ridiculously high percentage from the field. Hey, speaking of which...

  2. The 3-pointer. Did I mention Davidson shoots a ton of 3-pointers and sometimes makes them? Because Davidson shoots a ton of 3-pointers and sometimes makes them.

  3. The glass. This ties a bit to Key No. 1, but if Mizzou is playing with high effort on the glass, Davidson should have no answer. If the Tigers get to +4 or +5 in terms of expected rebounds, then, again, Davidson will have to shoot extraordinarily well. And maybe the Wildcats will do just that. But if Mizzou is dialed in appropriately, the Tigers have enough advantages to offset even a hot streak or two.


Davidson was the first road team to win a game in Mizzou Arena, then completed the home-and-home sweep the next season. Even though all the names have changed, Missouri fans are obviously wary of Davidson, and that's probably a good thing. Missouri fans are also wary of a team that can shoot the 3 the way Davidson sometimes does. So ... yeah, combined with the motivation factor, there's reason for you to be paranoid about this game. Certainly.

That said, Missouri has been the better team for most of 2013-14. Pomeroy projects an 81-73 win and gives the Tigers a 77 percent chance of advancing to face the winner of Southern Miss-Toledo in the round of 16. Be as paranoid as you want -- it may end up justified -- but on average, Mizzou wins this game even with no bench. I say Mizzou ends up taking something like an 85-80 decision (optimistic considering the Tigers have scored more than 80 in regulation just once in the last nine games); the Davidson defense really isn't very good, and if (IF) Mizzou is properly motivated, the Wildcats won't have many answers on that side of the court.