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Study Hall: Mizzou 89, Kentucky 75

It wasn’t that close, again.

study hall 2022

Yesterday morning I awoke to an alert from Levi that there was an audio issue with my uploaded podcast audio file. The file was there, it had a size that would hint it contained actual audio, but there was none. 55 minutes of nothing. I checked with GarageBand, the app I use to record, and it was the same thing. I swore when Matt Harris and I recorded I was getting the usual feedback. But for whatever reason it just disappeared.

I tell you this now because 1) I wanted to explain why we failed to get an episode of Dive Cuts in, and 2) because it sets up how I felt the morning of Mizzou getting ready to take on another top 25 opponent. As in, not great.

I was angry all morning. Mad at whatever mystical thing failed, but fortunes change. A little while later I got an email from a local liquor shop, The Wine & Cheese Place, that I’d been selected for their end of year lottery. It means I got to select a couple really nice whiskeys. Which if you listen to the pod or follow me on twitter, you know that got me excited.

But even then, still going into this game I had no idea what to think. I thought Mizzou could win. But I didn’t expect this.

I think Kentucky is a good team. They bring back a starting point guard and the reigning National Player of the Year in Oscar Tshiebwe from a team that went 26-8 and was a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They brought in 5-star freshman Cason Wallace, and good shooters in CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves who should help keep the floor spread for Tshiebwe. They haven’t been great yet, but they’ve been good, and Kentucky usually starts putting things together around the start of conference play. If they are starting to figure things out... it certainly didn’t show last night.

Mizzou blitzed Kentucky. The final score wasn’t indicative of the fact that the Tigers put the Wildcats away multiple times in the second half and the game was never really all that close after halftime. At the 17:17 mark of the first half, less than three minutes into the game, Mizzou had a one possession lead after a Wallace 3-pointer. The Tigers would score on the next possession and UK would never be within 1 possession the rest of the half. In the second half they trimmed it to 9 once, but that was it. Mizzou led by double digits the entire half, and had as much as a 21-point lead before pumping the breaks.

Team Stats

2023 study hall kentucky
  • What’s a bit of an oddity is Kentucky, under Cal, has often been great defensively: but against Mizzou they struggled to keep up with the smaller and quicker Tigers. When the Tigers are hitting 3s at a reasonable clip (they missed their last 2 but still hit 40%), they’re really tough to defend because it opens up the cutting. The Tigers were able to equal a Wildcats team, who feature Tshiebwe as their best player, at the rim.
  • I said to Matt Watkins before the game I thought UK would be fine if they shot 35% from 3 and didn't turn the ball over 25% of the time: well, that was wrong. Part of the reason was Mizzou was SO GOOD with the ball. Just 8 turnovers for the Tigers and just 2 in the second half. When Kentucky was trying to claw back into the game they couldn’t because Mizzou was able to get shots in their half court possessions.
  • Free Throw shooting does matter!: Mizzou was 19-22 in the second half, and while Tshiebwe got to the line 17 times, he only made 11. He attempted 8 shots and made 6. So when Mizzou wasn’t fouling he was 1.5 points per shot. When they did foul him it was just 64%. Or about 1.24 points per shot. Still not great, but better than 1.5!

The overall offensive stats were really pretty close shooting-wise. Mizzou was slightly better from deep, but the ball being valued so highly was a clear difference. If you’re getting better shots and converting at a higher clip, the goal should be to just continue to get shots up on the rim. It really works.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Kobe Brown, D’Moi Hodge, Sean East II

2023 study hall kentucky

On the season: D’Moi Hodge 23, Kobe Brown 17, Nick Honor 10, Noah Carter 10, Sean East II 8, DeAndre Gholston 5, Tre Gomillion 3, Isiaih Mosley 2

Let’s try this: Kobe Brown hasn’t often been an elite player against high major competition. In fact, you can go back and look at his production against top level teams over the last few years and it’s oftentimes been a struggle. Specifically last year, when the Tigers’ offensive options were more limited. Against KU, Brown looked a lot like he did last year. Overwhelmed by defenses focused on him. But against Illinois Kentucky he was able to exploit the matchups far more. Any time the Illini Wildcats brought in used 6’9 bruiser Dain Dainja Tshiebwe against Brown, Mizzou went right to Kobe. It helps when Brown’s jumper is connecting. If you have to crowd him he’s that much more dangerous. Well, 310points, 8 assists, and 4 steals later and you see why he was the MVP.

Summary, Kobe is on a heater. Well, Kobe and D’Moi.

Hodge is just a really good player. He didn’t shoot great, but made two big 3s, and when Mizzou needed a play he was there to make it. And Sean East was so important in the first half. He didn’t impact much in the second half but his first half stat line was 10 minutes, 12 points, no missed shots, 1 assist, and just one turnover.

What’s fun about all this? Mizzou was really good, but they weren’t great. They blew the doors off Kentucky without any made field goals from Nick Honor or Ronnie DeGray III.

2023 study hall kentucky

Both Sternberg and Francois played less than a minute, but we’re tossing them the full minute.

Honestly, this kind of game is one of the reasons I love Ronnie DeGray. He wasn’t good statistically. 80.4 ORtg, nearly a 60% turnover rate (it was just one turnover), he missed the only shot he took, fouled some. But it still felt like he was important, right? That’s because he had two blocks, he only ended two possessions and just fought inside against a big, physical team like Kentucky.

Why this team is so dangerous is because they’re good offensively. The rest of the SEC, for the most part, are an offensive struggle. To play Mizzou, you’re going to get good looks, but if you don’t make them, you can get put into a spin cycle in a hurry. Kentucky finished with a 1.09 Offensive Rating, which is really good! But they were just 0.882 in the 1st half. That isn’t going to cut it against this Mizzou team.

There are obvious flaws with this team but offense isn’t one of them. They find ways to create points. There are going to be games where they don’t hit the target, but for the most part they find ways to get points. After last night Mizzou has the #2 offense for Adjusted Efficiency at 118.2 to Arizona’s nation leading 120.2. Scoring the ball is something that is required to win games, and yet most College Basketball teams make it so difficult. It’s for that reason that I’ve gone from a slight skeptic over the ceiling on this team to a guy who believes that they are going to be a problem in the Conference.

A big test looms. Arkansas is coming off an opening road loss at LSU and they’re missing Nick Smith (a projected lottery pick), and Trevon Brazile is out for the season with an ACL tear. But they're long and they defend. If Mizzou can find offense on the road in Bud Walton... I think you can dive into the deep end of the Dennis Gates Kool-Aid pool.

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.

%Min: This is easy, it’s the percentage of minutes a player played which were available to them. That would be 40 minutes, or 45 if the game goes to overtime.

Usage%: This “estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor” (via 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.

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. This combined with Usage Rate gives you a sense of impact on the floor.

IndPoss: This is approximates how many possessions an individual is responsible for within the teams calculated possessions.

ShotRate%: This is the percentage of teams shots a player takes while on the floor.

AstRate%: Attempts to estimate the number of assists a player has on teammates made field goals when he is on the floor. The formula is basically AST / (((MinutesPlayed / (Team MP / 5)) * Team FGM) - FGM).

TORate%: Attempts to estimate the number of turnovers a player commits in their individual possessions. The formula is simple: TO / IndPoss

Floor%: Via 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.

In attempting to update Study Hall, I’m moving away from Touches/Possession and moving into the Rates a little more. This is a little experimental so if there’s something you’d like to see let me know and I’ll see if there’s an easy visual way to present it.