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Is Missouri improving? Yes! Maybe!

Consider this your Sunday live thread.

Gunnar Rathbun-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Puryear-Wright-Rosburg.

Your Season Totals: Your Season Totals: Puryear 34, Phillips 24, Clark 18, Wright 20, Rosburg 15, Gant 14, Walton 13, Isabell 10, VanLeer 7, Woods 5, Allen 2. Freshmen 78, sophomores 46, juniors 23, seniors 15. Puryear Scores 23, Wright Goes for Double-Double, But @MizzouHoops Falls at Arkansas

The Trib: Arkansas' perimeter shooting too much for Missouri

Post-Dispatch: Razorbacks snap Mizzou's win streak

Arkansas 84, Missouri 72

Pace (No. of Possessions) 75.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.96 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.14 1.25
2-PT FG% 47.5% 41.5%
3-PT FG% 26.1% 38.5%
FT% 72.7% 71.4%
True Shooting % 49.5% 53.0%
FTA/FGA 34.9% 41.8%
Mizzou Arkansas
Assists 18 18
Steals 3 5
Turnovers 10 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.10 3.29
Mizzou Arkansas
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14.3 15.4
Offensive Rebounds 8 13
Difference -6.3 -2.4

The post-game sentiment for this game seemed to be that Missouri missed 3-pointers, and Arkansas made them, and therefore Arkansas won. And at some literal level, that's true -- Arkansas scored 30 points off of 3s, Mizzou scored 18, and Arkansas won by 12 overall. But while Missouri shot better inside the line (despite Ryan Rosburg playing only 17 minutes because of fouls) and basically broke even from the free throw line, other aspects of the game also broke in Arkansas' favor.

Ball-handling wasn't a disaster for Mizzou, but it was still an Arkansas advantage. Both teams finished with 18 assists (which is a pretty damn high number for Mizzou), but the Hogs had two more steals and three fewer turnovers. That was worth a few points right there.

And while Missouri has suddenly become far more dangerous on the defensive glass, the Tigers are still mostly nonexistent on the other end. From an expected rebounds standpoint, they did kept about 2.4 offensive rebounds out of Arkansas' hands, but they grabbed a whopping 6.3 fewer offensive rebounds than they should have. That 3.9-board Arkansas advantage was also worth a few points.

Long-range shooting meant Missouri had to be great in the other three factors (turnovers, rebounds, getting to the line). Mizzou was fine in the latter one but not good enough in the other two.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kevin Puryear 23.4 0.69 34 Min, 23 Pts (6-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 10-11 FT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 TO, 1 PF
Namon Wright 11.6 0.42 28 Min, 12 Pts (4-10 FG, 3-7 3PT, 1-1 FT), 12 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 3 TO, 2 PF
Ryan Rosburg 10.9 0.64 17 Min, 11 Pts (5-7 FG, 1-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF
Cullen VanLeer 6.5 0.21 31 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 2-4 3PT), 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF
Jakeenan Gant 5.8 0.32 18 Min, 6 Pts (3-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 PF
D'Angelo Allen 5.4 0.60 9 Min, 6 Pts (3-5 FG, 0-2 FT), 1 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 PF
Terrence Phillips 3.8 0.13 30 Min, 2 Pts (0-6 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF
Tramaine Isabell 2.3 0.13 18 Min, 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-3 FT), 2 Reb, 3 PF
K.J. Walton -0.7 -0.05 15 Min, 0 Pts (0-5 FG, 0-2 3PT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Kevin Puryear 32% 38% 3.2 29% 34% 27% 10%
Namon Wright 23% 31% 2.5 46% 39% 4% 12%
Ryan Rosburg 25% 52% 1.6 0% 70% 20% 10%
Cullen VanLeer 8% 47% 2.0 78% 18% 0% 4%
Jakeenan Gant 17% 43% 1.9 46% 47% 8% 0%
D'Angelo Allen 32% 53% 5.6 63% 27% 11% 0%
Terrence Phillips 13% 32% 4.5 82% 12% 4% 2%
Tramaine Isabell 20% 32% 1.4 0% 67% 33% 0%
K.J. Walton 16% 7% 2.0 54% 46% 0% 0%
  • Man, Kevin Puryear's old-man game is strong. Advanced stats say 3-pointers, layups, free throws are the most efficient shots in basketball, and that you should play for those. But a nice, old-school mid-range game can open up the efficient shots. If opponents know you're attempting nothing but 3s and driving, they can defend that. Puryear is a weapon for being able to do the opposite.
  • UGH. Wright and VanLeer made five of 11 3-pointers, and Missouri still shot 26% as a team from long-range because everybody else went 1-for-12. If both Wright and CVL return next year and shoot more like we think they're capable, Missouri could be a better 3-point shooting team. But the Tigers haven't yet signed a particularly good 3-point shooter, so improvement might have to come from within.
  • Usage rates were distributed about as Missouri fans would probably prefer: Puryear, Rosburg, and Wright above 20% with Phillips mostly distributing (and Isabell not trying to do too much). I'd love to be getting more from Gant, but that's the closest thing to a winning formula that Missouri has. And by playing their game, the Tigers were able to stay much closer in Fayetteville than they did in Columbia.


While we'd love another win or two over these last four games, the primary question as the season comes to a close is simple: Is Missouri improving? Using Pomeroy rankings as a guide, let's look at game-to-game shifts. Here's a look at Missouri's Pomeroy ranking at tipoff of each game this year.

Since bottoming out at home against Ole Miss, the Tigers have either improved or only slightly regressed for five straight games. That's something.

Here's a slightly different look at the same thing: Here's how much Missouri's ranking improved or regressed after each game.

Missouri has improved by at least 10 spots after seven games this year. The Tigers have regressed by at least 10 spots after only five games but fell by 37 spots after the K-State game and by 22 after the first Arkansas game. This has been a "running uphill" type of year with either decent progress or tiny regression for the most part, pocked by random, costly stumbles.

Or, to put this another way, Missouri has played the role of Crazy-Young Team. Yesterday wasn't progress, but it wasn't a massive stumble either. And from an "X games without a total disaster" perspective, Missouri's up to six games. By my count, that's the longest streak of the season. Is Missouri improving? Quite possibly. But there are still four games left to either prove that more definitively or crash and burn another time or two.


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.