I wish the outcome would have been different. I wish somewhere in the second half Mizzou could have made a few more shots, and Mizzou Arena — which was packed to the gills with students — would have been able to party like it was 2012.
But the better team won. Auburn is a good team. Mizzou, while they’re getting better, is not. Auburn probably isn’t the best team in the country, but they’re one of the few teams in the country with realistic Final Four hopes. Missouri is just fighting for its life within the season.
So even though you wished things would’ve gone differently, there was always that voice in the back of your head which said it was probably going to end in disappointment.
The Tigers zoomed out to a 12-2 lead, and like a lot of their games recently they looked like the more prepared team, and the more aggressive team. But Auburn was not going to be held down for an entire game, right? They are too talented, they feature a roster that can go 10 deep without seeing a drop off in production, they have a future top 5 pick in the draft, and a 7’1 center who has the highest blocked shot rate in the country.
But then Mizzou actually did it. No they didn’t win, but they held Auburn down for the entire game. The problem was Auburn settled down defensively and then Missouri couldn’t score.
- There is one thing that saved Auburn’s bacon— shot attempts: by crushing Missouri on the offensive glass (minus NINE in expected rebounds for a Cuonzo Martin coached team?), Auburn was able to take EIGHTEEN more shots at the rim than the Tigers. They only made one more basket than Missouri did, neither team attempted many free throws, or made a bunch of threes. It just came down to Auburn getting more shots through their offensive rebounding.
- Missouri’s defense seems to be finally rounding into shape: their ball screen coverages, switches, and rotations were all on point last night. They clearly need to rebound better, but they were able to cause all kinds of issues for Auburn in the half court. The home Tigers held the road Tigers to their second lowest efficiency on the season on a possession basis, but their lowest eFG%, and lowest 2FG%. All preseason I talked about how if Mizzou can just be average for a Martin-coached team, they’d be fine. They have NOT been good, until recently.
- The offense continues to be a problem: They’re capable of being competent on offense, but that competence is contingent on being able to get into the lane and put pressure on the rim. Auburn only had 6 blocks, but Walker Kessler, Dylan Cardwell and Jabari Smith all put pressure on shot takers to make tough layups over length. And Missouri struggled to do that. There’s just not enough offensive shot-making on the roster to provide the pressure release valve when they need it.
Your Trifecta: Javon Pickett, Kobe Brown, Ronnie DeGray III
On the season: Kobe Brown 29, Amari Davis 19, Jarron Coleman 17, Ronnie DeGray III 15, Javon Pickett 15, Trevon Brazile 8, DaJuan Gordon 7, Sean Durugordon 2, Yaya Keita 1, Jordan Wilmore 1
I feel like I can be hard on Javon Pickett, and it’s not that I don’t like Pickett or think he can be helpful. It’s just that for three of his four seasons, he’s been a little miscast as an offensive weapon. I like Pickett as a low usage cutter, and opportunistic shot taker. Over the last 6 games, Pickett has really embraced that part of him, and just amplified it a bit. That's six straight games with double digit points, and while this game was probably his best (certainly his highest point output), he’s just been a consistent shot maker. He’s good for 30+ minutes, basically about 10 shots, and he’s not the primary or secondary option in the offense. That's what Cuonzo Martin needs him to be, just consistent.
Consistent enough to be the only guy with a Floor Rate over (or at) 40%. (Editor’s note: I see Kobe at 40% but I can’t fix the table) Remember Floor rate is a good determination for how good you were offensively. In the recent resurgence, Boogie has really been a key contributor with his more consistent shooting, and he just didn’t land the blows he’s been landing with more accuracy lately.
Amari Davis has been so good in the mid range, but there was one shot he probably wants back and that’s the turnaround jumper on the inverted out of bounds play where Davis had Wendell Green on a post up. It was a great play design with a short shot clock, and Missouri got the shot they wanted. And David, who’s been so good the last few games, just left it short. That would’ve put Missouri up 3 with 95 seconds to play. That’s a shame because you got everything you wanted and it didn’t work out.
Overall, I’m not sure a close loss or a win changes much of how you should feel about Martin and this team. The reality here is they are playing better. Since the COVID pause there was the one ugly loss in Bud Walton, but they’re still only 2-3 in the other games. The win over Alabama is good (though the Tide dropped a game at Georgia, who are the only team worse than Missouri in KenPom), the win at Ole Miss is probably better. Then the three losses have all been close. These are positive developments.
The deficiencies of the roster are still there. This team isn’t very good on offense, and so every game in league play is going to be a struggle. Seeing them play tight with teams at the top of the league makes you think they can find a few more wins. But how many wins is enough to convince fans it’s worth another go?
Matt and I have talked about it on the pod, and you have to let all of this play out. For now the team is still fighting, they play hard, and that means they’re not giving up on their coach. We’re going to see how it goes. After the way the non-conference went, it’s disingenuous to say this team isn’t better. But if Martin wants to insist a blowout loss is just a loss, then so are close losses. There have been four close losses, and seven blowout losses. That all adds up to 11 losses, to just 8 wins. A blowout win is the same as a close win, we just need to see a few more wins, regardless how they get there.
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.