On Wednesday, the Aggies avoided another bad loss against Ole Miss, bailed out by the post duo of Tyler Davis and Robert Williams. Now that they’re in the win column, the Aggies are looking to show any semblance of momentum. Today, that would translate into a good collective effort from a backcourt that’s been fractured over the last month or so.
No, D.J. Hogg, Admon Gilder, and Duane Wilson weren’t clicking on Wednesday, but on the right day, the trio brings the right alchemy of defense, grit and perimeter shooting. A couple weeks ago, I pointed out how unreliable their young wings have been when called upon to fill the breach left by injuries and suspensions.
Now also seems as good a time as any to bring out the KenPom tale of the tape.
Normally, I wander into the weeds when it comes to scouting reports, but there’s a pretty good formula for stopping the Aggies recently: make Davis and Williams beat you.
To be clear, I’m not advocating a strictly binary choice of selling out the paint. What I am saying is that I’d want A&M to tilt the orientation of its attack to the lane. Now, on its face, that sounds pretty stupid. But Mizzou’s actually done a pretty good job of slowing opposing bigs. On post-ups, the Tigers allow teams to shoot just 35 percent on post-ups. And against personnel like David Collette, Laron Black, Daniel Gafford, Yante Maten and Grant Williams, they’ve been sturdy on post-ups, cuts and putbacks.
On the perimeter, the Aggies’ guards have been pretty putrid lately. In losses, their starters average a mediocre 26.8 points, while the entire roster knocks in just 29.2 percent of its 3-point attempts.
On the whole, the Aggies’ offense isn’t all the efficient, ranking 13th in the SEC for points per possession — 0.858 — and last for scoring percentage, tallying points on just 39.5 percent of their trips. Boiled down, the Aggies are the 245th best team in the country running their offense against a set five.
None of the Aggies guards are especially efficient in isolation situations or attacking pick-and-rolls. What they can do, especially Hogg and Gilder, is make spot-up jumpers, averaging nearly 1.3 PPP when they can get a clean look at the rim. By comparison, a possession that ends with a post-up by Davis is only worth 73 percent of a spot-up jumper. And a cut by Williams? Only 65.7 percent.
As you can tell below, Mizzou is pretty good at defending spot-up 3-pointers, too.
A big question entering the season was whether Texas A&M could get steady production from its wings. Early on, the answer appeared to be yes, and the Aggies resembled a group living up to its potential. If the plan is to quarantine A&M’s wings, there’s a decent chance Mizzou can pull it off. The Tigers overall defensive rating has been always been a bit of a misnomer. (Missouri can’t control whether a team hits free throws, and Martin-coached teams have never generated a ton of takeaways.) In general, the Tigers are stellar about translating and executing a defensive scouting report.
On the offensive end, I’m trying to fight recency bias. In non-conference play, the Aggies looked like a top-50 team in adjusted defensive efficiency. Over the past month, they’ve been a sieve.
Pretty ugly, right?
On Wednesday, they allowed Ole Miss to average 1.11 points each trip down the floor, and the Rebels, which ranked 55th nationally, are 34 spots behind Mizzou in adjusted offensive efficiency. Looking over the zone chart for SEC play, Cuonzo Martin’s group should feel confident, too. It’s not as if A&M has done a great job defending the 3-point line.
Behavioral economists have debunked the hot-hand theory, but Missouri still seems due to break out of its three-game funk from long distance. Zone charts aren’t destiny, but the one above is nice to see if you’re a team reliant on wing 3s and have a post player in Jontay Porter who can step out and bury ones from the corner.
On the interior, the Tigers have the size to contend with Davis, Williams and Tonny Trocha-Morelos—assuming Jeremiah Tilmon and Jontay Porter can avoid foul trouble. It would also be nice if Kevin Puryear kept up his recent run of good play as Mizzou’s newly-minted sixth man.
A couple of months ago, this road trip looked daunting. Yet it's funny how teams respond to turmoil. Mizzou lost Michael Porter Jr., saw two point guards transfer and enters today with just nine scholarship players. All the Tigers have done is show resiliency. Flip a possession at the end of either loss to Arkansas or Florida, and the Tigers are sitting atop the SEC standings.
The Aggies? D.J. Hogg’s suspension was a self-inflicted wound, and Admon Gilder’s knee injury robbed Kennedy of a senior metronome to set the beat. Wilson, a graduate transfer from Marquette, brings more defensive pop than playmaking creativity and has also been hobbled with knee issues. The turbulence knocked Kennedy’s program—one entrenched in the top-10 during December—off course for an SEC title, and it’s quickly trying to course correct to stay on track for an NCAA tournament bid.
No, this one isn’t a gimme by any stretch, but in a league where road wins take on added currency, this one is within reach for the Tigers.
- ICYMI: A simpler time when we thought Texas A&M had so much promise
- The Watch: Is it time to worry about Texas A&M?
- Three Thoughts: A treatise on fouling up three
- Study Hall: Missouri 59, Tennessee 55
- PODCAST: Dive Cuts, Episode 16
Opponent: Texas A&M Aggies (12-6, 1-5 SEC)
Time: 3 p.m. CT
Where: Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
IS MIZZOU RECEIVING TOP 25 VOTES? No
WHAT DOES VEGAS SAY? A&M -6, O/U 137
WHAT DOES KenPom SAY? Texas A&M 68, Missouri 64 (KenPom win expectancy of 64%)
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN:
- TV: ESPN2, Tom Hart, Sean Farnham
- Radio: Tiger Radio Network // Sirius/XM -119/199
Facebook: Mizzou Men’s Basketball
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
- What percentage does Missouri shoot from 3-point range?
- Which Aggies guard scores the most points?
- How long does Tilmon stay on the floor, and what’s his stat line?
- Predict the score!
- Who is your trifecta?