This year has already been a journey, and we’re two games into the conference season.
Playing without their head coach, Mizzou was blown out by Kentucky, and had to forgo their conference home opener against Mississippi State thanks to a bunch of positive COVID tests. This is all after the rest of the disastrous play to start the season. So imagine, the top 15 ranked and offensively potent Alabama Crimson Tide rolling into Mizzou Arena after taking down both Tennessee and Florida — two objectively good teams — expectations amongst the Mizzou faithful were rightfully low. If you read Josh’s preview from Friday, it was a little bleak.
But the thing with sports, and college sports in particular, is nothing is static. Mizzou is a poor shooting team, they’ve shown as much over the course of the season, but they were never going to shoot poorly every game. We know Mizzou has struggled offensively all year, but they’ve had moments where the offense has been coherent enough that you knew there was going to be a breakout game at some point.
All that happening against a team like Alabama? Maybe less likely, but not impossible. And since this is a data driven post, Mizzou was given a 9.7% chance to win the game. Clearly, this game was within their roughly 1 in 10 odds.
- Alabama is a team who is going to get their points, and they just have too many scoring options to be held down for long: Missouri has had 8 games this year where their offensive efficiency was at or below 0.901 points per possession. Alabama’s worst offensive performance was 0.903 ppp against South Alabama early in the season. To beat them you really have to plan to score, and Missouri unleashed their best offense of the year... yes, they scored at a higher clip against Alabama (1.30) than they did against NAIA Paul Quinn College (1.23).
- Not shooting an embarrassing percentage from distance, and even equalling your opponent: it’s amazing what that will do for your offensive efficiency. Missouri has had four games where they’ve shot higher than 30%, and only one of those games was a loss. In that loss, they still only made five threes in the game. In the other three, they’ve made 9. Missouri doesn’t have to shoot a high percentage of 3s to be efficient, but they do need to make them at even a respectable clip.
- Alabama went small, a lot, and it cost them on the glass: Mizzou shut them out on the offensive glass. All while flipping 44.4% of their misses into extra opportunities. Mizzou was +6 in second chance points and +12 in raw rebounds, but limiting Alabama’s second chance looks is likely the difference in this game.
Your Trifecta: Kobe Brown, Trevon Brazile, Javon Pickett
On the season: Kobe Brown 26, Amari Davis 15, Ronnie DeGray III 12, Jarron Coleman 8, Javon Pickett 8, DaJuan Gordon 5, Trevon Brazile 5, Sean Durugordon 2, Yaya Keita 1, Jordan Wilmore 1
Cuonzo has a way of finding guys who like to go off in the ol’ home state revenge games because Kobe went OFF. 31 minutes, 30 points, he missed just 4 shots from the field, and had 13 rebounds. And he was limited due to foul trouble. Kobe has been a lot of things to this team this season, but this game he was nearly perfect when Mizzou needed him to be nearly perfect.
As much as they needed what they got from Kobe. they reeeeaaaallllly needed Javon to be better than he’s been. The last two games were rough for the Senior wing, and he needed a game to get him back to being the kind of cutting opportunity scorer he’s been the last few years.
With Pickett and Brown essentially wrecking shop (57% and 59% Floor rates?), Missouri really only needed adequate performances from a few others to keep pace, and they got three adequate performances from Boogie Coleman, DaJuan Gordon, and Ronnie DeGray III, and a really nice boost from Trevon Brazile.
I <3 Trevon Brazile. He’s everything you want in a modern day forward, and he’s SO so so so so so SO good on the weak side help. Dudes like Brazile are why you don’t need a traditional rim protector. Some 6’10 center plodding around the basket trying to protect the rim but immobile enough to get crushed in ball screen defense... What you need is a guy like Brazile, a lengthy 6’8 or 6’9 athletic wing who can just smash weak shots as a surprise. Brazile has blocked at least one shot per game, and would rank SIXTH nationally in block rate if he qualified. That’s nuts. And they’re almost all weakside help. When Brazile isn’t blocking shots via the weakside, he’s affecting them on the ball. Basically, Brazile is a menace around the rim and I very much like watching him play defense.
Basically, good things happened for Mizzou on offense and they were able to outlast the Tide (both literal and figurative). But what I found more interesting was the decision making on the pregame scout for Alabama. Why I’m not convinced Nate Oats is a great coach vs Nate Oats has great players is because he came into a game against an offense that struggles to make shots. Like, any shots. Also, most of the time. And his decision was to play a loose zone and let Kobe Brown beat them from the mid-range, something Kobe is actually good at. He’s good around the rim, he’s good in the mid range, and he’s pretty bad at shooting from deep and even contested runners. So Alabama gave the one guy who could really hurt them the exact start he needed and it gave Missouri the momentum.
The decision to remove Charles Bediako for long stretches of the game made a poor 3-point shooting team turn down outside shots for wide open driving lanes. It was a bold strategy and it did NOT work out for them. Mizzou is a team who can cut, drive, and attack the rim. When they’re doing that they’re pretty good. The teams who have packed it in have had more success. And Bama opted to do the opposite of that.
Realistically, Alabama came out with a weird and bizarre game plan and it gave Mizzou the early opening they needed. In all of the other games against good high major teams, Mizzou has had poor offensive spells early which set the tone. In this game, Bama let Mizzou set the tone. And that caused the Tide to continue their defeated streak in Columbia, and moved Nate Oats to 1-3 against Missouri and Cuonzo Martin.
The rest of the SEC Scores:
- Auburn 85, Florida 73
- Texas A&M 86, Arkansas 81
- LSU 79, Tennessee 67
- Kentucky 92, Georgia 77
- Ole Miss 82, Mississippi State 72
- South Carolina 72, Vanderbilt 70
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.