Where to start?
If you listened to the most recent Dive Cuts pod, you’d have heard me making bold predictions about liking this matchup with Florida moreso than the matchup against LSU. From the outside, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Florida plays defense and they have elite guard play and the game was on the road. LSU doesn’t defend, have rim protection, and the game is at home for Missouri. But there are some things that just feel like intuition. Not very numbery, I know. But I just felt it.
Since joining the SEC, Missouri hasn’t had a lot of success against either program, but I feel like I’ve started to understand certain patterns of the SEC. It’s a weird league, and weird results happen all the time. But one thing I’ve also learned about Cuonzo Martin is his teams love to show up when they’re counted out.
In Zo’s first season, Mizzou had started 3-5 in league play including three losses in a row, and had a tough road contest at Alabama. So of course they beat the Tide by 9 points.
In Zo’s second season a 4-12 team went on the road and beat the tar out of Georgia.
Last year the team looked cooked at 2-7 in league play, only to recover with a strong finish at 5-4, which saw them take out Auburn, Arkansas and Alabama.
So when you think about it, it makes total sense this team — with so many fans doubting them after losing four of their last five — would come out of Gainesville with a win.
- There was a lot that went the Gators’ way: Namely, their shooting for one. There aren’t going to be many games where you win on the road with the other team shooting 64.0% eFG and had a 42% FTA/FGA. But if you extract the shooting alone, you get to why they won.
- BCI was an ugly affair for Florida, and it was a solid night for Missouri: 14 assists on 28 made shots is good. Only 13 turnovers is pretty good too, and even a couple of those were shot clock violations. So by valuing the ball a little more and sharing the ball a little more, Missouri was able to help balance Florida’s hot shooting.
- REBOUNDING: There’s no question Missouri has struggled on the glass in recent games, and there’s also no question the Gators are an athletic team who can attack the glass. But Mizzou won the rebounding battle pretty decisively, further offsetting the Gators hot shooting.
Then the Tigers did one more thing... they actually shot the ball pretty well themselves. They ran good offense, they got good looks, and even as the Gators trimmed the lead late in the game, Mizzou had really good looks which could have easily shut the door on any Florida comeback. A wide open Xavier Pinson corner three — in a game where he had hit 4 of his other 6 attempts from deep — rimmed out. And Tilmon muscled his way into a really good close look at the rim, where he’s shooting over 70% on the season, also rimmed out. But shooting 54% eFG on the road is good enough to get you a road win. It was certainly good enough last night.
Your Trifecta: Dru, Mitch, X
On the season: Jeremiah Tilmon 33 points, Dru Smith 29 points, Xavier Pinson 27 points, Mark Smith 16 points, Kobe Brown 9 points, Javon Pickett 5 points, Parker Braun 3 points, Mitchell Smith 2 points, Torrence Watson 2 points
WELCOME TO THE TRIFECTA, MITCHELL SMITH!
I’ll have plenty to say about Dru and his play, but this might’ve been a very Mitchell Smith game. He’s taken heat from fans for poor 3-point shooting for at least the last two seasons, but he made two of his three attempts and each made a statement. The first gave Mizzou their biggest lead of 10 points; the second was a huge shot to put Mizzou up 70-62 with 2:27 to play. He also had four points off of his four offensive rebounds, and threw major shade when he was asked about getting dunked on.
Mitch Smith on challenging Duruji's dunk: "I'm a 6-10 shot blocker, so I don't really care, that doesn't bother me. He had two points at the end of the day. I'm happy to get out of here with a win."— Colin O’Brien (@cpatobrien) March 4, 2021
Mitch was also +5 on the day. The only Tiger who was better was Dru Smith, who was +6.
Speaking of Dru Smith, we’ve long been a “Dru Appreciation Blog” here. This had to be about the quintessential Dru Smith game. He was tasked with guarding Tre Mann (who looked every bit the first round draft pick last night), and still managed to play 92.5% of the minutes, scored 17 points on 15 shots, grabbed a few rebounds and dished out NINE assists while adding a block and six steals. And of course, a game winning reverse layup scored past Mann and over Colin Castleton and Anthony Duruji. Seriously, I love watching this kid.
I always like to give credit to Xavier Pinson, since I feel we aren’t opposed to being critical when warranted... but I really liked X’s floor game last night. He wasn’t super efficient but he also was not getting any whistles (again), yet stuck with it and made some big shots. Missouri probably doesn’t win if he doesn’t hit back to back threes to extend the lead in the first half. He also hit a big three to stop a Gator run in the second half. He also wasn’t as high usage as is normally needed to get him going, which is also an encouraging sign for Pinson having an impact in what’s left of the season.
Zo kept the lineup tight. Brown struggled with fouls and played 11 minutes, Pickett was the answer on the backup wing and only played 11 minutes. Parker Braun played only 5 minutes, and Drew Buggs tallied just 12 minutes. Everything else went to Dru Smith, Mark Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon, Mitchell Smith and Xavier Pinson. All in all, it was a night to run with your best group, and they came through.
I feel like I keep saying this, but Missouri is a good team. They aren’t a great one, but they’re a really good team. They have a winning record in true road games (6-4), and they’re now owners of seven quad one wins (7-3).
It’s not that beating the Gators in their house is some unheard of accomplishment. In fact, Kentucky and South Carolina have beaten Florida in the O-Dome this year. And like Missouri, Florida is a good but not great team. But it’s still an important win, a reminder that every game begins with a little hope.
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.