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Missouri has looked good to awesome in 3 of 4 games. Please let that mean something.

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Walton-Puryear-Isabell.

Your Season Totals: Your Season Totals: Puryear 21, Phillips 14, Gant 10, Wright 9, Clark 9, Walton 9, VanLeer 7, Isabell 6, Woods 5. Freshmen 51, sophomores 25, juniors 14, seniors 0.

Technically true: Missouri is still 8-0 against teams ranked worse than 130th in Pomeroy's ratings and 0-7 against teams ranked better. Saturday night's easy win over Auburn (which, with the loss, fell to 167th, 12 spots below Missouri) doesn't change that. Auburn is worse than NIU and UNO, actually, so this win doesn't represent a sea change in the whole "Mizzou gets blown out by anyone with a pulse" thing.

Also technically true: Over the last four games, Missouri has looked the part of a top-100 team three times. Beating UAPB and Savannah State by a combined 84 points is impressive. Beating Auburn by 15 is more than what was projected -- Vanderbilt is projected to beat Auburn by 16, and Vandy's No. 27. And the only loss in this four-game span can be explained quite a bit by 3-point shooting: all other numbers were basically equal, but Georgia made an abnormally high number of 3-pointers, and Mizzou was abnormally low. You can write a loss like that off, at least a little bit, to breaks of the game, even if dreadful starts to both halves were also quite problematic.

Missouri might be improving rapidly -- it's really hard to rise 39 spots (from 194th to 155th) in just four games -- and might continue to have a serious mental block against teams that are actually decent. We'll see. A decent-not-great Arkansas team comes to town on Tuesday, and maybe that will help us figure some things out. But I do know this: last night's Mizzou team was legitimately fun to watch. More of that, please.

Missouri 76, Auburn 61

Mizzou
Auburn
Pace (No. of Possessions) 67.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.13 0.91
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.36 1.20
2-PT FG% 40.5% 42.9%
3-PT FG% 36.8% 30.4%
FT% 75.8% 66.7%
True Shooting % 53.9% 49.5%
FTA/FGA 58.9% 47.1%
Mizzou Auburn
Assists 10 9
Steals 7 1
Turnovers 8 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.13 0.71
Mizzou Auburn
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13.4 12.5
Offensive Rebounds 13 9
Difference -0.4 -3.5
  • Mizzou had the shooting advantage, but only barely. Neither team was good inside the arc, and Mizzou was a little better on 3s and FTs, but the Tigers won this game because of everything else. They got to the line better, they handled the ball extraordinarily well -- a Bruce Pearl team managed just one steal -- and they outrebounded the Tigers.
  • Auburn is in no way a good rebounding team, but the fact that Missouri treated them like a bad rebounding team was encouraging. Shooting is random enough that you can probably expect to win and lose a few games based solely on who got hot and who didn't. Neither team was hot in this one, and Missouri still treated Auburn like the proverbial redheaded stepchild. Loved it.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
K.J. Walton 14.6 1.04 14 Min, 10 Pts (3-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4-5 FT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 3 Stl
Kevin Puryear 14.1 0.50 28 Min, 14 Pts (4-9 FG, 1-1 3PT, 5-6 FT), 11 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF
Tramaine Isabell 12.5 0.55 23 Min, 12 Pts (3-8 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-6 FT), 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl
D'Angelo Allen 10.5 0.87 12 Min, 7 Pts (3-4 FG, 1-1 3PT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Blk
Namon Wright 8.9 0.34 26 Min, 10 Pts (1-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 7-10 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 PF
Jakeenan Gant 5.4 0.45 12 Min, 5 Pts (2-3 FG, 1-1 3PT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF
Wes Clark 4.3 0.20 21 Min, 7 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 PF
Terrence Phillips 3.2 0.16 20 Min, 2 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-1 3PT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Ryan Rosburg 1.8 0.09 21 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 2 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF
Cullen VanLeer -0.3 -0.02 16 Min, 2 Pts (0-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off)
Russell Woods -0.4 -0.06 7 Min, 3 Pts (1-1 FG, 1-2 FT), 1 TO, 4 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
K.J. Walton 30% 50% 3.4 39% 39% 22% 0%
Kevin Puryear 27% 38% 2.4 27% 41% 18% 14%
Tramaine Isabell 24% 40% 2.4 33% 45% 22% 0%
D'Angelo Allen 17% 71% 1.0 0% 100% 0% 0%
Namon Wright 22% 34% 3.0 46% 28% 26% 0%
Jakeenan Gant 17% 45% 1.0 0% 75% 0% 25%
Wes Clark 17% 39% 1.9 45% 45% 10% 0%
Terrence Phillips 15% 33% 4.6 80% 17% 0% 3%
Ryan Rosburg 10% 45% 0.6 0% 50% 0% 50%
Cullen VanLeer 19% 15% 1.2 0% 79% 21% 0%
Russell Woods 21% 43% 1.5 0% 30% 40% 30%
  • I was thrown off when I saw Puryear wasn't tops on the AdjGS list. He had 14 points in nine FG attempts and played like a man possessed on the boards. It was impressive. He was playing like he was 6'9. But KJ Walton's three steals and Puryear's seven combined turnovers and fouls gave Walton the edge. I guess that's good, too, huh?
  • Tramaine Isabell has been teasing us for a year and a half now. His point totals just from this year: eight points in two games, 11 in one, six in two, 11 in one, five in three, 10 in one, 12 in four, 12 in one. But it was Good TI all over yesterday -- solid 3-point shooting, getting to the line, grabbing defensive rebounds, not turning the ball over.
  • HELLO, D'ANGELO. With Rosburg and Woods contributing so little and Gant playing only decent of late, maybe Mr. Allen earned himself some playing time with last night's energizing performance.
  • Namon Wright still cannot buy a basket -- his "improvement" over the last four game has still seen him go 3-for-14 from 3-point range -- but this has become a "your senses get heightened when you lose one" kind of thing. He's grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds per game, he's still grabbing defensive rebounds at a wonderfully high rate for a shooting guard, he's avoiding turnovers, and he's getting to the line. If the shot ever does return (and in theory, it pretty much has to at some point), he could be a heck of a player, huh?
  • I do kind of love that Missouri dominated, and Wes Clark didn't have to do very much.

Summary

Missouri and Auburn were tied at 16-16 with 7:47 left in the first half. Mizzou led 39-24 at halftime, then immediately stretched the lead to 19 early in the second half. The Tigers didn't let Auburn get to within less than 12, then stretched the lead to 26 late. This ... is exactly what a decent to good team does to a team as listless as Auburn.

Again, Missouri has now looked the part in three of four games. This might not mean a single thing if the Tigers come out and get rocked by Arkansas on Tuesday. Until Mizzou actually looks good against a decent team, none of this matters. But from a stat standpoint, Missouri is slowly getting its sea legs. Hopefully it continues, and hopefully any reruns we have to watch moving forward look a lot more like this one and a lot less like the ones we're used to.

---

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.