I’m always fascinated by finding the game within the game. How a scout turns into a game plan, how it’s executed and how it’s countered. Whichever team figures out the answer first usually takes command of the game first. For Missouri, they lost the initial battle. Game planning against Texas A&M isn’t hard, but because of Buzz Williams, it’s exceptionally hard to execute.
With 4 minutes to play in the 1st half, Texas A&M was in control. They were forcing the rusty Tigers into turnovers, limiting their opportunities to run, and they held a 7 point lead. Xavier Pinson wasn’t playing his best game and he hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four. And then a very Texas A&M-y sequence happened. Over two minutes of bad basketball included a bevy of missed shots (9 total, 8 by the Aggies), 4 turnovers (3 by the Tigers), and no scoring.
Then in the game within a game, Cuonzo Martin made a change. He subbed out the guy who has been the major offensive catalyst on the season. He took Pinson out.
Pinson has no doubt been good for the Tigers, but he wasn’t early against Texas A&M. He had 5 points on 4 shots, but he was responsible for three of the Tigers’ 10 first half turnovers, and two in that ugly 2-ish minute stretch. What followed was a nice little 7 point run Mizzou used to close out the half, mostly on the back of Javon Pickett.
Queue Matt Harris talking about lineup data, but Cuonzo found a lineup that really worked against Texas A&M. While Pinson wasn’t bad, it was clear that the Texas A&M game plan was to neutralize him in the pick-n-roll. With Pinson off the floor, the Aggies gameplay fell apart a bit. For 20 minutes, Mizzou was +20 in the box score (neither team scored in the final two minutes), getting only 2 points in 7 minutes from Pinson.
- Not a total banner day offensively: but it was effective when it needed to be. Mizzou out-Aggie’d Texas A&M. They defended, forced turnovers, limited their own (in the second half), and were able to attack the rim. They outscored Texas A&M 28-12 on layups and dunks, and forced a bad shooting team to take a lot of jump shots. Solid game plan defensively.
- Turnover rate in the first half: was nearly 31.25%, in the second half just 12.1%. When they can handle the ball, they get pretty good shots, and A&M didn’t have enough around the basket to contend the Tigers around the rim.
- Mizzou now has a top 20 defense in KenPom: As bad as A&M is on offense, Missouri took them out of what they wanted to do. Emmanuel Miller was a non-factor, and really it was only Andre Gordon who was able to supply efficient offense. Gordon had 19 points on 12 shots. The rest of the team had 33 points on 40 shots.
Your Trifecta: Tilly, Dru, Kobe
If Jeremiah Tilmon wants to keep this up, that would be great. We’ve seen Tilmon tantalize us with his ability, and now you’re seeing him put it all together in a really great way. He was the best player on the floor, and that was saying something with what Dru Smith provided. But Tilmon was the key to it all. In 33 minutes he was +23, he missed only one shot from the field, and was the very clear difference between the two teams.
Also it as really nice to see Dru Smith right himself. He hit double figures against Mississippi State, but it was a labored 11 points. Against A&M yesterday, Dru looked more like himself. He ended up taking 14 shots, but he was 5 of 9 in the second half including three of his four steals.
And while Kobe Brown made the trifecta, both he and Javon Pickett were equally important to the game turning out how it did. Missouri was 16-30 from the field in the second half, and Pickett and Brown combined to hit 6 of 7.
Mizzou’s recipe for a win usually entails good offensive performances from 2 or 3 guys. One of those guys is usually Xavier Pinson.
So it’s a relief to see X have a game where he’s just not himself, and see other guys shrug it off and take over. You want four guys with a Floor% higher than 40%? How about six? And all of them played at least 15 minutes.
I don’t have a lot more to say about this, really. Mizzou did what they needed to do and then some. Coming off a COVID pause it was nice to see them recover quickly from a slow start and look like the team we’ve seen through many stretches this year. When the Tigers postponed their game against LSU late last week, I asked What now? But part of that was a muse of whether this could end up benefitting the Tigers. A chance to reset a bit and get Dru Smith healthier than he’s been (with his wrist or thumb). And after a rocky start, they played like we kinda expect them to play.
They weren't perfect, because a team who can’t seem to shoot and make jumpshots will rarely be perfect. But they were really good. On to South Carolina...
In other SEC Action:
- Alabama 90, Arkansas 59
- Tennessee 81, Vanderbilt 61
- LSU 85, South Carolina 80
- Mississippi State 72, Florida 69
- Auburn 66, Kentucky 59
- Georgia 78, Ole Miss 74
So the league standings look like this:
- Alabama 6-0
- LSU 5-1
- Tennessee 4-1
- MSU 4-2
- Kentucky 3-2
- Florida 3-3
- Missouri 2-2
- South Carolina 1-1
- Arkansas 2-4
- Auburn 2-4
- Texas A&M 2-4
- Ole Miss 1-4
- Georgia 1-4
- Vanderbilt 0-4
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.