Mizzou is in second place in the SEC, everyone! Take a moment and rejoice a little.
While it wasn’t the cleanest game, Missouri zoomed out to a 13 point halftime lead in a first half that wasn’t marred by over-officiating. There was flow, very few free throws, and while the game was physical, it wasn't out of control at all. In the second half, the fouls mounted up quickly and Kentucky trimmed the lead to a single point just once. It may have ended up being a blessing in disguise for Missouri as they went to the Free Throw line 22 times, while their shooting otherwise dried up.
Kentucky hasn’t been good all year, but they’re still very good defensively. So even with a narrow win over a team with a fledgling record, Mizzou moved up in Kenpom, Let’s get to the stats.
- The pace really favored Missouri: Kentucky is truly an elite defensive team; they’re just pretty awful offensively. They need to play the way some past Cuonzo Martin teams play, with fewer possessions to limit the other teams’ offensive possessions. Keep the opponent on a leash, and hope you can reel them in with a few key possessions. But in the first half, Mizzou was able to extend the lead when they were getting quick shots and beating the defense down the floor.
- The Wildcats run a top 15 defense out: and they are really tempting around the rim but get their mitts on a lot of shots. Mizzou’s 2FG% was 15% lower than their season average and they had their shot blocked 9 times. So Mizzou getting to 1.0 points per possession is actually pretty decent.
- Winning the four factors is important here: because Kentucky is especially bad at turning the ball over (the Tigers only had five second half turnovers) and good at getting offensive rebounds. So for a team who struggles to score the ball, Mizzou took away second chance points (they only had two on the night) and forced slightly more turnovers than their season average, limiting chances at the rim. So while the ‘Cats shot the ball reasonably well, it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome their inability to nab second chance opportunities or the turnovers.
Your Trifecta: Dru, X, Mark
On the season: Jeremiah Tilmon 26 points, Xavier Pinson 21 points, Dru Smith 19 points, Mark Smith 14 points, Kobe Brown 5 points, Javon Pickett 3 points, Parker Braun 2 points
On a night when Missouri really didn’t get great performances from anyone, Dru Smith was terrific. A line of 26 points, just five missed shots, 12-14 from the line, and five assists... Smith was doing everything he could to keep his team in front. It felt like each time Kentucky closed the gap, Dru made a play to keep them at arms length. Whether is was goading a foul from the defense to get a couple free throws, or a steal or a forced turnover.
The other good news is Mark Smith. He was 3-of-5 from deep and missed several shots around the rim, but there were several that were blocked by Isaiah Jackson. While I don’t love driving to the rim and finishing over contact Mark, I do like 4-of-9 from deep over his last two games Mark. I’m not saying he’s fixed, but Smith’s defense and presence on the floor is something which really helps this team, and twofold if he’s making shots.
Even though he was 2-of-3 from 3 point range, we did not get good Xavier Pinson last night. He had made enough plays at the right time to make up for his turnovers, but a 27% usage is a little low while his Floor% was too low, and he just wasn’t drawing contact the way you want him to. I thought he was a little passive or too casual at times, and not the aggressive confident Pinson we’ve seen take over late in games.
Overall it was nice to see some positive minutes from Parker Braun in the first half, and after being perhaps the most valuable player against TCU, Kobe Brown had a tough night. I will say, when Kentucky goes with a player like Isaiah Jackson at the four spot, it’s a really tough matchup for Brown. Most of the SEC seems to work with smaller lineups, and Brown is a perfect fit against those kinds of lineups, against Isaiah Jackson... a 6’10 freak show of an athlete... he’s not a perfect fit.
We don’t need to spend a whole lot of time with this game. Kentucky is in a bad spot this year, but they’re still not a terrible team. They’re capable. They beat the tar out of Florida and LSU, who are two of the better teams in the league, lost by 3 to Kansas, 3 to Louisville, and only Alabama has beaten them by more than 7 points in league play. This was always likely to get stickier than we thought. So the win was workmanlike. Mizzou was always in the lead, and aside from an early second half run where UK cut a 14 point lead to 1, Mizzou outscored them 72-55.
So a rough 6 minute stretch, and a relatively consistent and strong 34 minutes.
While Mizzou was dispatching of the Wildcats, Florida was losing to South Carolina and Alabama was beating LSU. That means Missouri is alone in second place in the SEC, because they only have three losses.
- Alabama 10-0
- Missouri 5-3
- Arkansas 6-4
- LSU 6-4
- Florida 6-4
- Tennessee 5-4
- Kentucky 4-5
- South Carolina 3-4
- Auburn 4-6
- Ole Miss 4-6
- Mississippi State 4-6
- Georgia 4-6
- Texas A&M 2-6
- Vanderbilt 1-6
Also, eight top 25 ranked teams played a game last night, Missouri was one of three who won their game. Virginia beat NC State and Alabama beat LSU. But #3 Villanova lost to St. Johns (78 in KP), #5 Houston lost to East Carolina (136 in KP), #15 Creighton lost to Georgetown (94 in KP), #16 Virginia Tech lost to Pitt (79 in KP), and #22 Florida lost to South Carolina (74 in KP).
I say this to remind some of the naysayers about Missouri... what’s most important is winning games. The Tigers are rarely perfect, and their skill level and talent isn’t the best in the country. But in a weird year where even more wackiness is happening than normal, Mizzou is 12-3, a top 20 team, and heading into a showdown with the best team in the SEC in a 1 vs 2 matchup. Mizzou isn’t catching Alabama, they’re too far out in front and the schedule is easier the rest of the way for them. But it’s still an opportunity.
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.