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Mizzou's big men battled in the Tigers' 78-71 win over Northern Illinois

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Your Trifecta: Gant-Phillips-Puryear. HELLO, JAKEENAN!

Your Season Totals: Phillips 11, Puryear 10, Wright 6, VanLeer 4, Isabell 3, Gant 3, Clark 2, Walton 2, Woods 1. Freshmen 27, sophomores 12, juniors 3, seniors 0.

Missouri 78, NIU 71

Mizzou
NIU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 66.1
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.18 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.50 1.13
2-PT FG% 59.5% 37.5%
3-PT FG% 40.0% 30.4%
FT% 66.7% 83.3%
True Shooting % 62.3% 48.3%
FTA/FGA 46.2% 38.1%
Mizzou NIU
Assists 18 11
Steals 6 8
Turnovers 15 9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.60 2.11
Mizzou NIU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9.9 15.1
Offensive Rebounds 10 17
Difference +0.1 +1.9
  • Yet another game where shooting made the (positive) difference for Missouri. If you hit 60+% in True Shooting, you're probably going to win. The Tigers have gotten good shots against lesser teams this year (against the three top-100 teams on the slate so far: not so much), and that's the main reason Mizzou's offense looks quite a bit better this year than it did last year. And even with the three lesser games, the Tigers are still right around 150th in all three shooting categories -- 137th on 2-pointers, 160th on FTs, 174th on 3-pointers. Those aren't amazing rankings, obviously, but Mizzou was 246th or worse in all three categories a year ago. We'll see how much slippage there is when the big opponents pop back up.
  • Actually, in terms of rankings, Mizzou is down to three primary weaknesses this year (which is an improvement over "um, they're all weaknesses" last year: the Tigers are 277th in offensive rebounding, 305th in FTA/FGA, and 314th in turnovers forced. I actually assumed the fouling would the be the worst on the list, but being bad at sending guys to the line and not benefiting from turnovers while playing physically is ... well ... a bad combo.
  • Aside from a Benny HIllish stretch in the middle of the first half, when the ball was greased or something, the ball handling was okay. Mizzou committed nine turnovers in 14 minutes in the first half and six in the other 26.
  • NIU is a strong rebounding team (31st in offensive rebound %), so it's not surprising that the Huskies did pretty well on the offensive glass. What helped Mizzou win was the fact that the Tigers broke even on their end ... and that NIU missed quite a few shots, even with the extra chances.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jakeenan Gant 14.2 0.79 18 Min, 11 Pts (4-6 FG, 3-3 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF
Terrence Phillips 12.1 0.35 35 Min, 13 Pts (5-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-3 FT), 1 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO, 4 PF
Kevin Puryear 10.5 0.44 24 Min, 17 Pts (6-10 FG, 5-5 FT), 1 Reb, 4 TO, 1 PF
Russell Woods 8.9 0.60 15 Min, 9 Pts (4-4 FG, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 4 PF
Ryan Rosburg 7.8 0.37 21 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 7 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 TO, 4 PF
Namon Wright 7.4 0.29 26 Min, 10 Pts (3-7 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-4 FT), 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF
Wes Clark 5.9 0.30 20 Min, 6 Pts (1-4 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-6 FT), 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 TO, 4 PF
Cullen VanLeer 3.8 0.27 14 Min, 3 Pts (1-4 FG, 1-4 3PT), 2 Ast, 1 Stl
Tramaine Isabell 2.8 0.17 16 Min, 3 Pts (1-5 FG, 1-1 3PT, 0-1 FT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl
K.J. Walton 1.6 0.18 9 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 1 Stl
D'Angelo Allen -0.5 -0.25 2 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Jakeenan Gant 24% 52% 1.6 0% 62% 28% 10%
Terrence Phillips 20% 47% 4.3 71% 14% 5% 10%
Kevin Puryear 35% 41% 2.3 0% 54% 25% 22%
Russell Woods 20% 69% 2.5 46% 31% 14% 8%
Ryan Rosburg 7% 66% 1.3 66% 23% 0% 11%
Namon Wright 21% 37% 3.5 58% 23% 12% 7%
Wes Clark 20% 37% 5.1 69% 12% 16% 3%
Cullen VanLeer 15% 34% 3.4 75% 25% 0% 0%
Tramaine Isabell 18% 21% 2.2 50% 42% 8% 0%
K.J. Walton 17% 28% 1.0 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • Look at you, big men! Of the top five players in the Adj. GS list, four are 6'7 are taller! NIU still won the rebounding battle, but spurt by Woods and Gant in the second half helped to turn a back-and-forth game into one in which the Tigers had a comfortable cushion.
  • Jakeenan Gant got the ball in isolation ... got to the line (and made his FTs) ... grabbed rebounds on both ends of the court ... didn't attempt a 3-pointer ... blocked a shot ... yes! More, please! This was pretty much exactly what we were hoping to see from No. 23.
  • They combined for nine turnovers, so it's not like Terrence Phillips and Kevin Puryear are perfect or anything, but it's amazing how quickly they've become Mizzou's most reliable players ... and not in a "they're just the least unreliable" kind of way.

Summary

I'm not going to make too much of this win, as NIU still ranks just 168th in Pomeroy's ratings. But Mizzou is now 4-0 against teams ranked outside of the Pomeroy top 100; they were just 5-4 against those teams last year, and there are seven more of those left on the schedule. Mizzou still ranks only 173rd itself because of the dreadful trip to Kansas City, but with the steadier offense, this feels like a team that will end up in the 110-140 range to me. That'll give the Tigers a chance at .500 or so. That won't be tolerable in the years to come, but it would represent clear improvement this year ... especially considering how much of a contribution the freshmen and sophomores are making.

---

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.