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Tennessee 72, Missouri 45: Study Hall

On stinking and setting no-purpose picks 22 feet from the basket.

No photos from yesterday in the photo tool, so ... PUPPY.
No photos from yesterday in the photo tool, so ... PUPPY.
MurielW / Wikimedia Commons

Your Trifecta: Rosburg-Clarkson-Clark. Yeah, that's a "You got drubbed" trifecta if I've ever seen one.

I'm not exactly sure who to blame for it. We know that the coaches have been preaching sharing the ball with the big men, and we know that not-always-terrible things happen when that happens. We know that Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown have had trouble trusting their shaky bigs at times, and we know they have ample evidence for that. And we know that the bigs spent quite a bit of time setting picks 22 feet from the basket and weren't even inside to receive a pass a good portion of the time. All I know for sure is that Missouri played its most directionless offense in years yesterday afternoon.

We always boil basketball down to epic cliches when our team isn't playing well. They're not moving! They're all just standing around! They're not showing heart! There's typically a lot more to it than that, of course. But while the offensive numbers have actually been solid for most of the year, Mizzou has laid three eggs in the last four games: 0.88 points per possession against Georgia, 0.97 against Texas A&M, 0.75 against Tennessee.

Mizzou is 3-for-28 from 3-point range this week. I didn't even know that was possible. That's so bad that they could go 10-for-11 against Texas A&M and still only be shooting 33% in a three-game span.

Whatever the cause ... Clarkson and Brown checking out ... the bigs just not improving enough ... system design ... all we know for sure is that defense has been a major issue for most of the last two months, and the offense positively collapsed down the stretch. And the end of the season could pretty easily be just two games away now.

Tennessee 72, Missouri 45

Pace (No. of Possessions) 59.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.75 1.21
Points Per Shot (PPS) 0.96 1.09
2-PT FG% 43.3% 52.4%
3-PT FG% 11.8% 29.2%
FT% 92.9% 63.6%
True Shooting % 42.3% 50.8%
Mizzou Tennessee
Assists 5 18
Steals 5 4
Turnovers 11 8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.91 2.75
Mizzou Tennessee
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.3 13.6
Offensive Rebounds 5 18
Difference -6.3 +4.4
  • Minus-10.7 in expected rebounds. Wow. We talk about "heart" and "guts" and whatnot in basketball, and I think 99% of that talk is ridiculous and missing the point; but it's amazing how quickly your heart and effort dissipate when you're getting absolutely destroyed on the glass. Mizzou got eaten alive by body blows for the first 10-15 minutes and had nothing left after that.

  • By the way, Mizzou was horrific in this game, but it does bear mentioning that Tennessee has done this to three straight opponents now. Don't forget to credit the Vols for a good portion of this.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Ryan Rosburg 15.0 0.79 19 Min, 6 Pts (2-2 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 1 PF
Jordan Clarkson 11.4 0.30 38 Min, 13 Pts (4-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 5-6 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 3 TO, 1 PF
Wes Clark 10.3 0.41 25 Min, 8 Pts (3-7 FG, 2-4 3PT), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 PF
Keanau Post 9.5 0.50 19 Min, 6 Pts (3-3 FG), 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 TO, 4 PF
Torren Jones 5.5 0.43 13 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 4 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 PF
Johnathan Williams III 0.4 0.02 19 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG), 2 Reb, 1 Stl, 3 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF
Jabari Brown -1.8 -0.05 37 Min, 8 Pts (1-10 FG, 0-4 3PT, 6-6 FT), 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 TO, 3 PF
Earnest Ross -1.8 -0.07 27 Min, 2 Pts (1-6 FG, 0-3 3PT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 1 PF
Tony Criswell -2.2 -0.72 3 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT), 1 Reb
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Rosburg 9% 77% 0.7 0% 50% 50% 0%
Clarkson 29% 36% 3.5 46% 31% 16% 8%
Clark 17% 44% 1.8 46% 54% 0% 0%
Post 13% 72% 0.7 0% 75% 0% 25%
Jones 10% 47% 0.5 0% 100% 0% 0%
J3 13% 0% 0.7 0% 75% 0% 25%
Brown 26% 23% 2.3 24% 40% 24% 12%
Ross 18% 11% 1.0 0% 75% 0% 25%
Criswell 42% 0% 2.3 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • LOL.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The 3-pointer

Always. Tennessee made only four of 21 3s the last time these teams played, and Mizzou won by five. They've actually only shot well from 3-point range once in the last six games. The wounded Mizzou fan in you assumes they're due, then, and you may be right; really, though, that's just proof that 3-point shooting is a luxury for Tennessee. The Vols can play well even when those shots aren't falling. (And when they're falling, the Vols dominate.) Mizzou made only three of five 3s in Columbia the last time these teams played, but I get the feeling the Tigers will need to shoot and make more in Knoxville. I could be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time), but this is a category Mizzou needs to win dramatically, either because of its own makes or Tennessee's misses.

3-pointers: Tennessee 29% (7-for-24), Mizzou 12% (2-for-17)

I was shocked to see that Tennessee only shot 29% here, and I was equally shocked to see that they only shot 38% in the first half. It felt like much worse than that. Of course, when you're not scoring and have no hope of scoring, every shot the opponent makes feels like too much to overcome.

3-for-28 in two games. That's so ugly it's almost pretty. I'd say the progression to the mean after that is going to be incredible, but ... season's almost over. That progression better not wait around.

The glass

Tennessee's going to win the rebounding battle. That much is certain. But it took a phenomenal shooting performance to keep Mizzou ahead last time, and going minus-5 again in this category will make it awfully tough to steal a win. Keep it to minus-2 or 3, and you could have a chance.

Expected Rebounds: Tennessee +10.7

Yeah ... minus-10.7 isn't minus-2 or 3, is it...

The supporting cast

Both of these teams have won plenty of games this year while getting contributions from only their main players -- Stokes and McRae for Tennessee, Brown, Jordan Clarkson, and Earnest Ross for Mizzou. But when others show up, these teams actually begin to look really good. If Jones and J3 play like they did against A&M, if Post plays like he did against Mississippi State, if Wes Clark can make a couple of outside shots, Mizzou can hang with most teams. Meanwhile, if Richardson or Barton is hitting from outside, or if Tennessee's bench is doing anything on the scoreboard, Tennessee is almost unbeatable. Who gets the better contribution here?

Yeah, swing and a miss here. Tennessee's supporting cast definitely outplayed Missouri's, but Missouri's big three were the issue here: 102 minutes, 23 points on 6-for-28 shooting, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 8 turnovers, 7.8 Adj. GS points.

Again, Clarkson, Brown, and Ross were getting no help whatsoever. Rosburg was good for about two possessions early in the second half, Williams was getting pushed around like a rag doll, Jones was of no help, and Post was alternating between looking good once and playing like a baby hippo twice. And they were all setting no-purpose screens far beyond the 3-point line. But no matter where the brunt of the blame is, the big three were incredibly awful yesterday, and when they're awful, Mizzou's awful.


Mizzou was awful for the first two weeks of conference play, dropping from 41st to 65th in the Pomeroy rankings in the span of three games. For most of the next month, they scratched and clawed back up the ranks, to 46th after the first Arkansas game and to 44th after the second. When you're scuffling and fighting through your flaws and spending a ton of effort to make up ground, one of two things happens: either you break through, or you run out of gas. Two weeks ago, Mizzou ran out of gas. The Tigers fell from 46th to 54th after the Alabama game, from 54th to 61st after the Georgia game, from 59th to 64th after the A&M game, and from 64th to 71st after yesterday. The offense fell from 18th to 29th in about a week.

Throughout the flow of a basketball season, I talk about fatal flaws a lot. Since almost everybody's season ends with a loss, we pretty much know months in advance why our team is going to lose that final game. You don't always know when it's going to happen, but you know why it's going to happen.

The problem with this team is that it has multiple fatal flaws. It allows far more open looks from 3-point range than even last year's team did, and while opponents haven't always made those shots (opponents are actually only shooting 32.2% for the season on 3-pointers, believe it or not), they always get them, and when they go in, Missouri goes down. And while bigs have had their moments (I still like what J3 and maybe Jones could become), this is the least offensively skilled set of big men that Missouri has had since either 2010 (Keith Ramsey, Steve Moore, Justin Safford and a sophomore Laurence Bowers) or 2007 (a sophomore Leo Lyons, Kalen Grimes, Darryl Butterfield, and Vaidatos Volkus). Meanwhile, this is the worst ball-handling team Missouri has had since the last Quin Snyder squad; it has cut down the turnovers a bit (on average) as the season has progressed, but it forces fewer turnovers than almost anybody in the country.

You can pin some of this on youth, some of it on turnover, some of it on system, and some of it on pure, simple talent evaluation. The first two should rectify themselves in the coming couple of seasons, but the latter two could doom the Haith tenure. But whatever the cause, this team just isn't very good. Its strengths fell apart in the face of its weaknesses, its senior leadership was minimal, and the pieces just haven't come together as we hoped. We knew an NIT season was possible -- Remember in the preseason when we had no idea what was going to happen? -- and we know that sometimes things just don't come together. Georgetown probably isn't going dancing this year, either. Kentucky didn't go last year. And a lot of Norm Stewart teams failed to make the NCAAs. It hasn't been Missouri's turn to stink for a while, but even though it happens to most teams, living through it still isn't a lot of fun. Yesterday certainly wasn't.


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 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.