At one point in the second half of watching the game I just had to close my laptop. For most of the basketball games, I “run” the @RockMNation twitter account. I find twitter for football and basketball games to be wildly different. Particularly with how the timeline filters tweets now, it’s basically turned into a timeout update. Which I know is probably boring, but I have this thing where I really like watching the game. Weird, I know.
I also tend to not get very high or very low during games. But yesterday was irritating.
Yes, it’s good that Missouri won. Wins are always better than losses. But as a former coach turned analytics writer, I’m always obsessed with HOW you play. So it was annoying to me that Missouri was playing really well in spurts, and downright awful for longer stretches.
The defense was leaky, they got pounded on the glass. But... they won.
If the goal has shifted this season to making the NCAA Tournament, then Mizzou really needs to avoid bad losses. And while I respect Jerry Stackhouse a great deal, and I think on a long enough timeline he can fix Vanderbilt, the Commodores aren’t a good basketball team. They’re not bad, but they are probably headed towards a bottom four finish in the league. So this is a game where you cannot afford to lose to Vanderbilt, particularly at home.
- Flirting with disaster: Giving up 15 offensive rebounds and collecting only five is the definition of getting killed on the glass. Vandy attempted 11 more shots than Mizzou did, which is something we’ve kinda been keeping track of. If the Commodores have a little better shooting night from outside, we might be having a very different conversation. I mean 40.5% and -9.4 is LOL.
- But as Dennis Gates said in his post-game presser: This team understands who they are, they can have a negative category like ORBs as long as that's the only negative category. Their ball handling was nearly perfect with just 6 turnovers and a turnover rate of just 8.3%. This is the second time this season they’ve been under 10% turnover rate.
- Another big reason for the FGA disparity: was the free throw rate. Mizzou hasn’t been a team who shoots a lot of FTs this season. Their FTA/FGA rate is a pedestrian 208th on the season. And they made 12 FTs in the last 3 minutes of the game. But before those last three minutes, they still had 15 FT makes to just one miss.
Scoring around the rim was far tougher with the size Vandy had at the rim, but this was the 2nd worst 2FG% shooting for the Tigers on the season. With that happening, Missouri was able to find ways to get to the line where they converted. One of the ways this team has been able to be successful this season is by scoring the basketball. Efficiency is often about finding ways to score points when some things aren’t working well. There aren’t going to be many nights where they shoot 50% from 3FG, and on those nights (or days) it’ll be important to convert at the rim or get to the line. Ideally both, but one or the other is essential if the 3FG aren’t dropping.
Your Trifecta: DeAndre Gholston, D’Moi Hodge, Noah Carter
On the season: D’Moi Hodge 25, Kobe Brown 17, Nick Honor 13, Noah Carter 13, Sean East II 10, DeAndre Gholston 8, Tre Gomillion 3, Isiaih Mosley 2
I’ve often been critical of Gholston, but mostly it was how Gholston was being used. If you peek down below, you can see that Gholston was only at around a 21.2% usage. 21% is relatively low if you’re touching on 30 minutes and 18 points. 10 shots, a couple assists, a “block”. This was exactly the game Mizzou needed from Gholston on an afternoon when not a lot of other things were going well.
One thing not going well was D’Moi Hodge apparently being sick. He still found a way to give Mizzou 17 points in 22 minutes, but his illness was why Gates went to Gholston more, and leaned on Nick Honor and Sean East II as the guards down the stretch.
Despite the first half foul trouble, Kobe Brown was impactful in the second half. Considering he had 2 points in 6 minutes in the first half, 16 points in 19 minutes, but the 8 rebounds all came in the 2nd half. Brown is so important for the Mizzou rebounding effort.
Vanderbilt had a 25-11 rebounding advantage in the 1st half. And while they still won the rebounding battle in the 2nd half, it was 21-16. Kobe makes a difference.
Tough night for Tre Gomillion. Nick Honor also struggled but both had no turnovers and solid assist rates. There’s something to be said for valuing the ball and generating points even when things aren’t falling for you personally.
This wasn’t a good performance from Mizzou and they still found a way to win. Key guys made key plays at key times and it was enough to hold off Vanderbilt at home. The missed goaltending was helpful, but I don’t think it was as make or break as some have hinted. Vandy still tied the game back up on the next possession. If the “block” had been with one minute left versus 4 minutes left, I might agree.
The Commodores didn’t make a three after the 10:39 mark in the second half (aside from Jordan Wright sinking one at the buzzer which made no difference), Liam Robbins banked in an 18-footer, and Wright missed a three so badly Robbins was able to catch it and drop it in. Plus, they missed two free throws in the last minute of play. Missouri did most everything right down the stretch, and Vandy still had some chances and weird things happen to keep them in the game.
The Tigers were fortunate to overcome those things. And a conference win is a conference win. For a team that won 12 games overall and just five conference games last year, they’ve already got two conference wins under their belt and have surpassed last year's win total.
These are all good things!
It’s ok to see them roll Illinois and Kentucky and get a little giddy, but it’s also important to keep the context. Mizzou quickly dropped to 40th in KenPom after the game before the rest of the days results settled them back in at 37. Their performance had little effect on the big important metrics overall. But the Defensive Efficiency is a big problem, especially when you take into account the forthcoming defenses.
There is only one sub-100 defense left on the schedule and that’s a road game at South Carolina. Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia are all between 70 and 100 so they’re good but far from elite. Everyone else is top 50. Next week Mizzou has two road games against Texas A&M and Florida. Both are coming off home wins over LSU and Georgia, respectively. KenPom projects a 1-point loss in College Station with a 48% chance to win, and a 2-point loss in Gainesville with a 44% chance to win. You need at least one.
Preferably you start with a win against A&M and go from there. You need at least one because home games against Arkansas and Alabama are next up. After Eric Musselman beat Mizzou on Wednesday he said he told his guys it was a must-win game. He knew they had to go to Auburn and had to face Alabama and were coming off a loss. He knew they couldn’t start out 0-4. You can fix 1-3, but 0-4 is a big hole. The same holds true for Mizzou going into this week. They’re 2-1 in conference play right now. Go 1-1 and you’re 3-2. Even if you lose both games to Arkansas and Alabama, you’re still 3-4, and the schedule opens up a bit. But lose out this week and you’re 2-4 facing a possible 2-6 start. Now suddenly individual games get a lot more important.
So go get at least one, maybe two. I won’t complain. And we’ll go from there.
Other SEC Games:
- Alabama (7) 78, Kentucky 52
- Tennessee (8) 85, South Carolina 42
- Auburn (22) 72, Arkansas (13) 59
- Florida 82, Georgia 75
- Mississippi State 64, Ole Miss 54
- Texas A&M 69, LSU 56
Side note: This will be my last piece for a few weeks. I’m recording a podcast Monday night with Matt Watkins, and then I’m leaving the country to celebrate my awesome wife who puts up with this weird gig. In my stead, Matt Harris will rock the Study Halls, and we’ll continue on with the rest of the great coverage from everyone else. M-I-Z!
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 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.
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 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.
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.