On the pod two days ago we spent a good amount of time talking about how this Mizzou team isn’t a bad team. They are closer to like 80-85% of a good team who is just missing one or two players who can make up the difference. But then Mizzou showed me how much they appreciated the faith by playing what might have been their worst 25 minutes of basketball this season. So thanks for that fellas.
Really, the first six or so minutes weren’t that bad. Mizzou wasn’t on fire, but neither were the Hogs and both teams kind of trudged their way to a 12-10 game with Arkansas ahead by just a bucket. The ball handling was sloppy on both sides, but as the nerves ebbed the tide really turned. I hate to completely mix my metaphors there, but I needed to get out of that sentence somehow. With the Tigers down just two, Arkansas turned it over and Tamar Bates streaked down the floor with Aidan Shaw filling the opposite lane. Everyone in the world saw Shaw and know what he can do. But Bates underthrew the lob and it was picked off. Arkansas scored on the next possession.
With Mizzou fully into their bench, the scouting report fell apart. Arkansas used two runs, an 8-0 run from 12:33 - 9:56 in the first half, and a 10-0 run from 3:36 to 1:23 in the first half to work their way into a 19 point half time advantage at halftime. By then the damage was mostly done, the lead would balloon up to a 23 early in the second half. The Tigers kept fighting, and Tamar Bates turned in a second half for the season to make the final look more respectable. Missouri did all they could to make Arkansas look like the preseason top 25 and SEC favorite they were early in the season. And Arkansas did everything they could to make Missouri look more like the feckless team they’ve become this season.
Eric Musselman has made a mess of his team this season but he’s gotten to where he’s at by being a good coach (as much as I hate saying it). And where he’s very good is finding your biggest weaknesses and going right after them. If you struggle in pick and roll coverage, he will run 1,000 pick and rolls. Missouri struggles in defensive rotations and they don’t get very good defense from their lead guards. To counter this, Dennis Gates has recently been deploying a flat 1-3-1 zone. Musselman countered by putting Tramon Mark, his leading scorer, in the middle of the zone, and used two athletic big men to attack the back line. Once Mizzou switched back to man defense, Muss had his bigs use a short roll in the pick and roll to attack the rim 2 on 1, knowing his experienced interior forwards like Makhi Mitchell and Jalen Graham would be able to score against the size of Connor Vanover and the youth of Jordan Butler.
And then there were the live ball turnovers.
There were some positives you could take away in the second half, but really this was about how you let an opportunity of a floundering SEC team coming into your building and not notch a win.
This game can be categorized as two different games, the first half and the second half. Mizzou turned the ball over 9 times and Arkansas scored 13 points off those turnovers. They outscored Mizzou 13-0 in fast break points. They were +22 in points in the paint. They shot four three pointers and made three of them, and were 16/28 from inside the arc. 19 of those 28 shots in the first half were either layups or dunks, they made 12 of them. Meanwhile Mizzou had 11 attempts at the rim, making just 3 of them.
The second half was different. Arkansas looked more like the team they’ve been recently but still shot 13/27 from 2FG and made one of their two three point attempts. The points off turnovers were more even, second chance points were nearly even and points in the paint were also much closer. It honestly looked a bit more like I expected the entire game to go. A close affair between two teams struggling to find footing.
- Finally a good shooting night!: it’s been a while since the Tigers have made this many threes, the Seton Hall game in fact.
- It was also the most possessions since Kentucky: But the possession/pace wasn’t trending that high until later in the second half when the Tigers started really pressing the issue. Only 31 possessions were credited in the first half. Arkansas wants to play fast, and the Zone slowed their pace, just not the efficiency.
So it’s difficult to look at the box above and make sense of it when it looks even and the game did not. Mizzou was excellent in garbage time, which is really the opposite of where they usually are. Even against Alabama things got away from them in garbage time, and we knew about their garbage time struggles last year.
Your Trifecta: Tamar Bates, Anthony Robinson II, Sean East
On the season: Sean East II 41, Tamar Bates 26, Noah Carter 20, Nick Honor 14, Caleb Grill 6, Anthony Robinson II 5, Connor Vanover 4, Aidan Shaw 3, Trent Pierce 3, Jesus Carralero-Martin 2, Jordan Butler 1
Going back to Musselman quickly, as much as he likes to hammer your weaknesses, he also will do whatever it takes to take away your top option. That was evident a few years ago when Kobe Brown was all Missouri had and our friend Matt Watkins snapped this defensive alingment. Last night this was Tamar Bates. In the first half Bates was a ghost, just 1-6 from the floor, and taken out of every action possible. Arkansas wanted to make just catching the ball a problem and they did. But the second half was a different story. Bates scored 23 on 12 shots, and his efficiency would have been through the roof but for 4 turnovers. I give him credit for playing through it and adjusting to what the Hogs were doing defensively once he did get a touch, and even some of his turnovers were still high effort instead of lazy.
But Bates and Sean East both combined for 30 of the 76 possessions and gave the ball away on 12 of them. Missouri had a 23.8% turnover rate, but those two were at 40%. The rest of the team calculates to around 13%. And one thing you cannot do when you’re playing Arkansas is give the ball away. Last year in two games combined Mizzou had 22 turnovers in 138 possessions against Musselman’s defense, which equates to a 15.9% turnover rate. Everyone except Sean and Tamar did their job.
The problem with that last statement, of course, is that if Tamar and Sean are not taking shots, the teams ability to score the ball drops through the floor. EVEN WITH 6 TURNOVERS TAMAR STILL HAD A 1.12 PPP! Sean was worse with a 0.93 and is even better when you account for his 7 assists. Combined those guys were turning the ball over on 40% of their possessions and still scoring over a point per possession. If those two aren’t high in usage who else is getting the work?
Anthony Robinson snuck into the trifecta, but he scored 10 total points, all in the second half with 8 points coming in the final 2:39 including his two threes. Now, I’m a hopeful guy most of the time so my hope is Robinson seeing a few shots go in gives him a bit more confidence. We’re fans of Ant around here, and think he has a bright future, but if you have a guy scoring 8 of his 10 points in the final 2:39 when the game is basically decided, thats part of the problem.
At this stage I’m not sure how many are still paying attention. Particularly to the guy who many probably think is foolish for saying something as bold as “Missouri isn’t a bad basketball team”.
But this isn’t a Kim Anderson team, or even Cuonzo’s last team. Those teams were bad. During the dark KA years the SEC was a crap league. In 2015 only 5 SEC teams made the NCAA and the Adjusted Efficiency Margin for the league per KenPom.com was +11.74 or 5th amongst the conferences. In 2016 just 3 teams made the NCAAs and the AdjEM was +11.21, again good for 5th. In 2017 five teams made the tournament and a +12.91 AdjEM was good for... you guessed it... 5th.
Eight teams in 2018, Seven in ‘19, Four in ‘20, Six in ‘21, and Six in Cuonzo’s last season of ‘22. Last year 8 teams made it, this year its looking like 10 have a chance (although it’s unlikely all 10 will get in). I think at least eight teams will get in with nine being possible. There are 10 teams inside the top 70, 8 inside the top 50, Six teams inside the top 33 and three in the top 10. That’s not to mention South Carolina and what they’ve done, they’re 46th. The league is good now, the margin for error is so much thinner than it was when Kim Anderson was going 3-15 and 2-16.
That isn’t to excuse a January you’d rather forget but can’t. Missouri played 8 games in January and lost all eight. They were mostly competitive in all their games outside of a few poor stretches, but only one team looked like it played desparate basketball last night in a game between two teams desperate for a win. The calendar flips to February and seven more games, but things don’t get easier. There’s only one projected win (Saturday at Vanderbilt), and just two games within a 40% chance to win (the other is a home game against Ole Miss with 43% chance to win). You’d think at some point the dam will break, but right now Missouri looks like a team expecting the dam to break instead of grabbing the chisel and chipping away to make it give way.
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 on 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 that 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 approximates how many possessions an individual is responsible for within the team’s calculated possessions.
ShotRate%: This is the percentage of a team’s 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.