If you didn’t believe me when I said this year would produce some weird results, last night probably provided the evidence you needed to fall in line a bit.
Alabama beat LSU by about 40 points at LSU, Ole Miss whipped Mississippi State on the road, Florida blasted Tennessee at home... the only outlier? Missouri with a rather pedestrian 11 point home win over South Carolina. Mizzou’s KenPom ranking didn’t move after the game. Despite the projected 5 point win turning into an 11 point win, the rest of the numbers said it was pretty expected.
So now, in the last two games, Mizzou has dared to... perform as expected!
After the COVID pause, the Tigers have used the time to reset a bit, and we see more of the team we saw earlier in the year. With only some minor variations.
- The pace was quick, but it still favored Missouri: For the most part, the Tigers made South Carolina run its offense. The Gamecocks play with great tempo, but their season has left them in a weird place where they’ve still struggled at times to score the ball with consistency.
- Eehhhhhh, turnovers: It’s disappointing to see so many turnovers again, but the positive spin is a lot of it can be contributed to a certain point guard who appears to be in a two-game funk.
- The Four Factors are hilariously weird: Missouri’s eFG% was only the second time the Tigers hit 60% eFG this season (the other was against Oral Roberts), they more than doubled the Free Throw Attempts to FGA, drastically lost the turnover rate, and even lost the rebounding battle.
- But the good news on the rebounding: Mizzou gave up six offensive rebounds to Justin Minaya, three to the freakishly long and athletic Keyshawn Bryant (seriously, his wingspan... it has to be 9-feet-5), and FOUR team offensive rebounds. There were several times when the Tigers just lost the rebound when they had it secured. So kind of weird stuff?
Your Trifecta: Tilly, Dru, Mark
This team’s intriguing aspect so far is it doesn’t feel like we’ve seen them clicking on all cylinders. At different points, we’ve had other players playing well. Missouri needs good games from at least a couple of guys and even play from a few more, and that’s enough to beat most teams (as long as their defense works).
Last night it was Jeremiah Tilmon. He was fantastic. In Missouri’s previous six games, Jeremiah Tilmon has been the KenPom MVP four times. In the games he wasn’t? Both games where he didn’t were losses to UT and MSU. He’s just been as dominant as we’ve all wanted Tilmon to be dominant. And if anything, he’s almost been too unselfish. There were several possessions where Tilmon had a clean, good look but pitched the ball out instead. It’s just been nice to see the evolution of Jeremiah Tilmon.
And I’m just gonna say this:
It looks like Mark Smith is back to being the guy we wanted to see after a few off games, after a six-game skid where he went five for 25 from outside the 3-point line. It wasn’t even a scorching performance, but Smith went 3-for-7 from deep (4-for-8 if you include the one he buried after the shot clock expired), but it was enough to make you feel better about Mark and his ability to get off a pretty tough slide.
Two challenging games for Xavier Pinson, but X’s next good game against South Carolina will be his first. It’s weird, but something about the Gamecocks makes the Tigers’ combo guard play a little melty. Missouri is inarguably a better team when Pinson is doing well, but they also have enough at other positions to make up for his sucking a bit if he’s limited in his role. And the last two games, his play has left him on the bench for more time than he was on the floor. Nine turnovers will do that.
But when you have everyone else picking up the slack offensively, it’s not a big deal that Pinson isn’t doing well. He’s a high usage guy, so when the usage isn’t going well (25%+ and just a 15% floor rate), it’s best to turn to plan B.
No Parker Braun, but it feels like Cuonzo has his eight-man rotation worked out, and Parker and Torrence Watson are on the outside of that. Then, depending on the outcome, he either gives the 9th man minutes to Torrence or Parker.
Up next? Tennessee, coming off a thrashing at Florida. It should be fun.
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.