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Study Hall: Illinois 97, Mizzou 73

Three straight years of uncompetitive Braggin’ Rights basketball.

study hall 2022

The modern iteration of Braggin’ Rights has been played since 1980. Jaden Lewis explored some of Mizzou’s best moments in the game on Friday, it’s a worthy piece and more fun to read than watching the game that followed. Including the game on Friday, that means these teams have played 43 games as part of the Braggin’ Rights series in St. Louis, with just the 2020 game being held in Columbia thanks to a coin flip.

Mizzou has won just 16 of the 43. Even in the 80s, arguably Missouri’s best decade, they won just once in 10 tries. In those 27 losses, the Tigers have lost by 15 or more points 9 times and double digits 13 times. In the 16 wins they’ve won by 15 or more four times with 7 total double digit wins. So in 43 games, nearly half of them have been fairly non-competitive, and nearly 13 of them have been non-competitive.

The last three years it’s been about the worst of it. Removing the last three games, only two other Braggin’ Rights games have been decided by more than 20 points. The 32 point drubbing in 2005, and a 22 point loss in 1980.

Blowouts are immensely fun when you’re on the winning side, as the Tigers were last year. But it really sucks to get geared up for a big game like this one and watch your team get their doors blown off. But I was struck by how similar to last years game this was. Three years ago a really good Illinois team blew out a bad Missouri team. Last year a pretty good Missouri team blew out a pretty good Illinois team. I don’t know how much of this game was Mizzou being bad versus playing bad. I definitely think they’re sputtering a bit. They’ve been wildly inconsistent, but I don’t think they’re as bad as they played.

I do think this game may cause some significant recalibration for Gates and his approach with this roster.

Team Stats

study hall illinois 2024

I’m really struck by how similar to last year’s game this was, with the victors obviously reversed. But last year Mizzou was +13 in assists while Illinois shot 22.6% from three. Illinois didn’t shoot the ball as well as Missouri did a year ago, but they shot it well enough. Last year Mizzou put up 51 first half points, Illinois returned the favor this year with 49.

The Tigers actually won the 2nd half, outscoring Illinois 49-48, but the final score doesn’t illustrate how much of a non-contest the game was. The same as last year. Terrance Shannon played the role of Kobe Brown, the experienced big wing scored 30 points and seemed unstoppable to the point he attempted 16 free throws, the same amount Mizzou attempted as a team.

  • I want to talk about pace: this was the second fastest game on the season in terms of number of possessions; they only played slightly more against UAPB. The game was played that way because Illinois wanted to play that way. They don’t have a point guard, but they have several guys who can dribble well enough to start a break. So to avoid the turnovers which plagued them last year they attacked and it worked. Last year Mizzou dictated pace, they turned Illinois over and capitalized when they did. This year Illinois controlled the pace and only turned the ball over 10 times and just three times in the first half.
  • A big reason for losing this badly is shooting this badly: Mizzou is not an elite shooting team but they also aren’t a poor shooting one. Even after this game they’re still top 100 for shooting percentage from 3 and top 100 for eFG% as well. They shot the ball worse against Memphis, but 6-27 from deep won't beat most teams. And 1-17 was the number in the first half. So they recovered to shoot 5 of 10 in the second half. By then it was too late.

Mizzou lost every one of the four factors. Their usual ball handling superiority vanished, the usual weakness on the glass existed, and they shot the ball horribly. Of course this was a blowout.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Trent Pierce, Tamar Bates, Sean East II

study hall illinois 2024

On the season: Sean East II 26, Noah Carter 12, Nick Honor 10, Tamar Bates 8, Caleb Grill 6, Trent Pierce 3, Anthony Robinson II 3, Connor Vanover 2, Jesus Carralero-Martin 1, Aidan Shaw 1

So much of the game was spent with lineups that just screamed, “I’m searching for answers”, which is not how you want to be playing against a rival. Mizzou looked like they were figuring out a rotation against Pitt and Wichita State and since then it’s been derailed by Caleb Grill’s injury. So much so that Gates abandoned his starting lineup with Aidan Shaw and inserted Trent Pierce, after Pierce played just 6 minutes in the second half against Seton Hall.

But for a team in search of shot making, taking a player who doesn’t look at the rim off the floor and putting a capable shooter on the floor should help in theory. But Pierce was just 1 of 4 for 2 points in the first half. In his defense, the whole team was 10 of 42 so he wasn't alone. But therein also lies a part of the problem. They were down 25 points at halftime shooting 36% from two and 6% from three, with 0.58 points per possession. If they were the same team they’ve been offensively this year and shot 52% and 35% that’s an additional 23 points.

But Illinois should get some credit because they contributed to Missouri’s poor shooting inside the arc, and they were leaving some of the Tigers’ lesser shooters open. Mizzou’s best shooters this season are Tamar Bates (50%), Nick Honor (43.5%) and Sean East (55.9%), who combined to take just 4 of those attempts and the one make in the 1st half was from East. Honor had zero attempts. Meanwhile Connor Vanover, Noah Carter, Trent Pierce, and Jordan Butler combined to take 12 threes. Carter’s 27.8% this season is the best of the foursome.

It’s often far more about who is taking the shots.

study hall illinois 2024

I still think at least part of the answer for this team offensively is finding a way to get Bates more shots. He was solid in both halves but played 14 minutes in the 1st half and took just 5 shots including one three. Bates’ floor rate was again over 40% (the good mark — anything over 40% is considered good) and he still only took 7 shots in his 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Curt Lewis took 6 shots in 15 minutes and Noah Carter took 11 in 19 minutes. Bates has the best Offensive Rating on the team so far this year and he took only 12.6% of the shots while he was on the floor against Illinois. For a team looking for offense asking Bates to do a little more might be a better answer.

I feel a little like a broken record here but this just feels like a roster and a coach looking for answers that aren’t there. Maybe a healthy John Tonje makes a difference. Maybe a healthy Caleb Grill does too. But more and more it’s just feeling like an incomplete trip to the transfer portal nicked them in a bad way. The holdovers are what they are. Sean East has played well, Honor is being asked to do too much, maybe Carter is too. Aidan Shaw seems to have regressed offensively, but he does play with energy on defense and rebounds. The freshmen are freshmen and have all flashed good moments. But so far the portal additions have been inconsistent at best. And there’s only one more game until Conference play.

I’m not the type who looks at the situation as dire. There’s still a lot to accomplish, and a lot on the table. For what Dennis Gates has stated he wants to achieve in his coaching career he needs to figure out what he wants this team to be.


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.