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Study Hall: Tennessee 73, Mizzou 53

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That didn’t go well.

study hall 2020

I’m not sure how much we need to talk about this game last night. But the gist of it is: a much better team with better talent and a deeper roster came to Columbia and smacked a sense of reality into the scrappy upstart Tigers.

As per usual, I’ll operate in the gray area about this game... because I didn’t find any of it particularly surprising, just disappointing.

Missouri has a lot on the table this year, but they still exist in a plane with very little margin for error. They’ve shown us they just aren’t going to be a good shooting team. But they’ve been more efficient this season when they can attack early in the clock and get out and run with more frequency. But in the last two games the offense has lagged, and the chances to run have been limited as both Bradley and Tennessee focused on slowing any run outs.

So while a lot of Tiger fans and media were hyped about the Tigers’ start, here were were a little more tempered. Even in my twitter fights with kU beat writers, my main point was not whether any specific team was under or over ranked, but that the use of preseason predictions in a weird season with no true offseason and interrupted practice times were more likely to give us weird results... making analytics a far more difficult things to read, much less understand at this point.

Even after Mizzou beat Illinois and Oregon, the question here was still, “How good is this team, really?” and not “Mizzou is proving all the haterz wrong!”. So after last night’s flop, we have a little more of an idea that Mizzou * might * still be pretty good... but they’re not good in the way Tennessee is good.

Team Stats

study hall 2021 tennessee
  • This is going to get lost: but Missouri did pretty well defensively. UT is a good offensive team and Missouri held them to just 1.02 points per possession. When you factor in the Vols scored on their first seven shots, and 9 of their first 11, with only a couple turnovers tossed in... recovering from a 1.6 points per possession to open the first 13, and pull that down is solid work. The Tigers muddied the game up, just about 8 minutes too late.
  • As much as I don’t want to talk about the offense: we have to because Mizzou did not lose this game because of their first 8 minutes defensively. They weren’t great on defense early, but they were AWFUL on offense. The eFG% under 40% is bad. MU was clearly bothered by the length of the Tennessee defenders around the rim, and they also had their worst night at the free throw line in a while.
  • I’m kind of amazed, Tennessee only took 7 threes: and they made five of them. Meanwhile Missouri made less than half as many, and took more than twice as many. I think Mizzou is good enough to beat a lot of teams in the SEC when they don’t shoot the ball well from deep, but Tennessee isn’t one of those teams.

If you want to know how Missouri lost: poor shooting from all over, and a lot of turnovers. In fact all the things they’ve done so much better this year seemed to go right out the window. They had 21 turnovers. That’s just not going to cut it.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Tilly, Parker, X

study hall 2021 tennessee

Honestly if you watched the game, there’s probably no way you could have accurately predicted the final Trifecta.

If you go back and think about the game... who played well?

When nobody plays well, it’s hard enough to beat Bradley, much less Tennessee.

Tilmon wasn’t bad. But it certainly feels like Mark Smith just kind of disappears for Missouri when they need him against teams like Tennessee. And as the only guy who is remotely reliable from 3-point range, Mark could not find room to attempt a shot from behind the line all game! I feel like Ron Burgundy after Baxter eats the wheel of cheese... I’m not even mad, I’m impressed.

But to be frank, if you get a combined 12 points and 8 turnovers from Dru and Mark Smith, this team has really a near zero chance of success.

study hall 2021 tennessee

I want to try and dissect this game more, but realistically, what’s the point?

I’m going to go back to what I was saying earlier in that... nothing has changed for me. We’ve known now for two years Missouri is capable of throwing up stinker offensive games. We know at this point what they’re capable of, and what they aren’t. They can beat Illinois, who is at worst a top 20 team. They got blown out by one of the five or six best teams in the country. They’ve hit a rut offensively over the last few games and it feels like things are falling apart a bit.

But the truth is— they’re still a good team, while never being a great one. We simply have too much evidence with these same players over the last few years which says otherwise. They’re capable of being better, and they need to be better. I still think they’re at worst a top half SEC team, at best a top four SEC team. But they’re just simply not consistent enough offensively to be a championship level team.

It’s important to know that Tennessee is probably one of five or six teams who could realistically think of beating Baylor or Gonzaga (the country’s two best teams by a not insignificant amount). They’re currently running out the second best defense in the country. There aren’t many teams like Tennessee left on the schedule other than Tennessee.

The top of the SEC looks like it will involve the Vols, and then teams playing for second. Mizzou gets one of those teams playing for second up next when they go to Fayetteville. Arkansas will prove a completely different challenge. They’re leakier defensively, but just as potent an offensive club.

Frankly it’s just time for Mizzou to worry less about what’s in the paper, and who is voted where, and get back to playing the kind of basketball they were earlier in the year. The rest takes care of itself.


True Shooting Percentage (TS%): Quite simply, this calculates a player’s shooting percentage while taking into account 2FG%, 3FG%, and FT%. The formula is Total Points / 2 * (FGA + (0.475+FTA)). The 0.475 is a Free Throw modifier. KenPomeroy and other College Basketball sites typically use 0.475, while the NBA typically uses 0.44. That’s basically what TS% is. A measure of scoring efficiency based on the number of points scored over the number of possessions in which they attempted to score, more here.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): This is similar to TS%, but takes 3-point shooting more into account. The formula is FGM + (0.5 * 3PM) / FGA

So think of TS% as scoring efficiency, and eFG% as shooting efficiency, more here.

Expected Offensive Rebounds: Measured based upon the average rebounds a college basketball team gets on both the defensive and offensive end. This takes the overall number of missed shots (or shots available to be rebounded) and divides them by the number of offensive rebounds and compares them with the statistical average.

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.

Offensive Rating (ORtg): Similar to Adjusted game score, but this looks at how many points per possession a player would score if they were averaged over 100 possessions.

Usage%: This “estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor” (via sports-reference.com/cbb). 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 sports-reference.com/cbb: Floor % answers the question, “When a Player 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.