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Study Hall: Arkansas 86, Mizzou 81 (OT)

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Mizzou’s record in close games takes a nose dive via the free throw line.

study hall 2020

The early news was ominous. The 10th ranked Missouri Tigers, coming off an ugly road loss in Oxford against a surging Ole Miss Rebels team, were taking the floor without their centerpiece, Jeremiah Tilmon, was ruled unavailable after the death of a family member.

Say what you will about Tilmon and his consistency over the years, but he’s been terrific this year. Tilmon has gravity on the floor. Opposing defenses must take him into account on every possession. So when I heard the news he was out, my immediate thought was how wildly different this game was going to be from the last one. If you recall, the last time the Tigers played Arkansas Tilmon went off. Missouri could have used 28 minutes, 25 points on 13 shots and 11 rebounds.

Instead it was a different approach. Guard and perimeter oriented, as you’d say. The plan was to rely on Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith, let them carry the day and hope you make enough 3-point shots to win a home game against a solid opponent.

It almost worked.

Team Stats

study hall 2021 arkansas
  • My most important stat of the day, the combination of FTA/FGA and FT%: Despite nearly identical numbers in the FTA/FGA, the Hogs shot 87% on 23 attempts, while Mizzou shot 67% on 21 attempts. So Arkansas was +6 in free throw makes in a five point game.
  • Missouri really got everything they needed with Tilmon out: they got a bonus shooting night (40% from 3 on 32 attempts) including contributions from Torrence Watson. They won the rebounding battles without Tilmon, won the Effective Field Goal percentage by a hair, and were nearly even on FTA. But the pesky turnovers. By the way, 10 in the first half turned into 4 in the second half and just 1 in overtime.

So losing because you didn’t make enough free throws and you turned the ball over a bit too much. 10 first half possessions where you turned the ball over and averaged less than a point per possession, despite the late game heroics from Dru Smith, Parker Braun and Xavier Pinson... it was the first half where I think Mizzou had an opportunity to extend a lead and didn’t, when they turned the ball over.

With 7:20 to play in the 1st half, the Tigers had a 9 point lead. From that point on, they turned the ball over 5 times, made only two field goals and saw their 9 point lead dwindle down to just four points. Xavier Pinson picked up a second foul with just under six minutes left.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: X, Torrence, Dru

study hall 2021 arkansas

On the season: Jeremiah Tilmon 28 points, Xavier Pinson 25 points, Dru Smith 23 points, Mark Smith 14 points, Kobe Brown 8 points, Javon Pickett 5 points, Parker Braun 3 points, Torrence Watson 2 points

Welcome back, Torrence Watson! If there was ever a time where we needed a boost from Torrence, it was yesterday. It’s almost a shame Missouri wasted the re-emergence of Watson. Lost for most of the season with 3 DNPs and only one double digit minutes appearance until the last two games, following the ankle injury of Javon Pickett. What I liked most about Watson’s play though was the defense. He had three steals, including a big one in overtime. Considering the lack of impact Pickett has had since hurting his ankle, Mizzou needed a pick-me-up from Watson. He was big.

But I want to throw a lot of credit at Xavier Pinson. Aside from his foul issues — which definitely impacted the flow of the game for him — Pinson was terrific. He made big shots, and was a slightly over-englished layup from propelling Missouri to a win.

study hall 2021 arkansas

If anything, Pinson’s usage might’ve been too low for what Missouri needed. If only by a touch. If Pinson is scoring at a 40% floor rate or higher, I’d prefer his usage be over 30%. So just a hair low.

But the Floor Rates are wild. Four players over 50%, and then Mark at under 20%. I don’t know what to say about Mark Smith. I know the reason he plays. It’s because he does everything right. He defends, rebounds, and plays hard. He also takes good shots (mostly good anyway)... he just doesn’t make them anymore. After an amazing hot start to the season, Smith’s Offensive Rating has dropped to just 95.0. In Conference it’s at an 80.9, and against Tier A opponents its 80.6. After his 55.72 rating against Arkansas you really have to question how to handle him going forward. He missed all 8 of his shot attempts and the misses seemed to get worse, including two airballs. Something needs to give.

It also didn’t help that Kobe Brown struggled to make an impact as well— he was out most of the second half with calf cramps. Missouri needed an answer to Justin Smith, and Mitchell Smith was in foul trouble, Kobe Brown struggled, and Javon Pickett was limping. And with Jeremiah Tilmon away from the team, Justin Smith found the rim for 19 points and several emphatic dunks.

It was a rough week for Mizzou Basketball. A blowout loss on the road and a home loss to a rival in the Rally for Rhyan game, the first one of the series... not exactly the banner week you hope for. Mizzou went from a protected seed on the bracket pre-show to barely hanging onto the five line in Joe Lunardi’s bracket late last night. But if you’d been paying attention to the analytics, you knew this outcome was very possible. Missouri had been playing with house money for a few weeks and they were cashed in against Ole Miss, and then Tilmon needs a leave of absence in an important home game.

Missouri needs a recover game. So of course they have to hit the road. Although two trips to Georgia and South Carolina are more preferable (since they’re still expected wins), but it’s still the road in the SEC where anything is possible.

The good news is Tilmon should be back soon, and Missouri is still firmly rooted in the NCAA tournament. It’s unlikely they lose every game from here on out, but if they want to get back into the protected seed group, they need to start by winning out this week.

SEC Scores

  • 11. Alabama 115, Georgia 82
  • LSU 78, 16. Tennessee 65
  • Vanderbilt 72, Mississippi State 51
  • Kentucky 82, Auburn 80
  • Ole Miss 81, South Carolina 74
  • Texas A&M, Florida PPD

It’s very likely that soon the Ole Miss loss and the Auburn loss are going to look completely different. If they don't already.

SEC Standings:

  1. Alabama 12 - 1
  2. Arkansas 8 - 4
  3. LSU 8 - 4
  4. Florida 6 - 4
  5. Tennessee 7 - 5
  6. Missouri 6 - 5
  7. Ole Miss 7 - 6
  8. Kentucky 5 - 7
  9. Auburn 5 - 8
  10. Mississippi State 5 - 8
  11. Georgia 5 - 8
  12. South Carolina 3 - 7
  13. Texas A&M 2 - 6
  14. Vanderbilt 2 - 8

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.