Hoops Check-in: Technically Also a Rivalry in Dixie
Tech needed to accomplish two things to leave Boca Raton with a win:
- Limit the number of open threes
- Rebound the ball
That’s in increasing order of importance, so it’s a shame that Tech was able to pull off #1, but failed miserably at #2. The Bulldogs were out-rebounded 43-31, a minus 12 rebounding differential — the worst Tech has had all year.
To better explain the rebounding woes, I’m going to introduce two advanced stats: Offensive Rebounding Percentage (ORB%) and Defensive Rebounding Percentage (DRB%). The idea of both stats is roughly the same: when a shot is missed, what percentage of the time does Tech rebound the ball?
For example, Tech’s best rebounding game was against Harding in the third game of the year. Tech had a 43.2 ORB% and a 96.6 DRB%. So when the Bulldogs had the ball, they got the rebound a little over two out of every five missed shots. When Harding missed, the Bulldogs almost always came down with the board.
The FAU game was not like that.
Against the Owls, Tech recorded a 20.5 ORB% and a 65.7 DRB%. So Florida Atlantic was able to extend their possession after about every third missed shot.
With rebounding figures that blatently bad, an eight point loss was about the best case scenario we could have hoped for.
Tech lost on Thursday, so they lost on Saturday. The trend continues.
The second game of any road trip is tough when a team doesn’t have a full compliment of players. As was the case in recent weeks, Tech was missing key pieces in Derric Jean and Exavian Christon, but the Dogs were short another man in Miami: Stacey Thomas was not available.
We’ll never know for certain, but that extra player off the bench might have made the difference in Tech’s six point loss to the Golden Panthers. Although the Bulldogs held the lead late, FIU ended the game on an 11-3 run.
A week ago, FIU lead the nation with 234 steals, but the Panthers’ talents were not on display in either game last week. Thursday night, Southern Miss was able to limit the Panthers to a season-low five takeaways, and Tech only gave the ball away on six steals.
Tech was about to escape Miami with four steals, but the Dogs gave up two more in the
crushing crucial final minute.
Those final two steals acted as the metaphorical nail in Tech’s metaphorical losing-to-road-teams-a-lot.
Record Probability Chart
Southern Miss Forecast
This will be the first conference away week where Tech won’t lose two games.
Mostly because they’ll only play one: at USM.
For the first stretch of conference play, the Golden Eagles’ road woes we’re almost as bad as Tech’s. Going into last week, Southern Miss was 1-4 away from Reed Green Coliseum. But last week, USM pulled a reverse-Tech and won at FIU and FAU.
Shooting (you know, the part that scores you points) is probably the most important concept in basketball, so it’s a little frightening to see Southern Miss so good at it. The Golden Eagles rank 1st in the conference in field goal percentage (FG%) and three-point percentage (3PT%) through conference play.
Even more concerning than a team sinking 47.6% of their shots, is that in the past three games (Marshall, @FIU, @FAU) the Eagles have outperformed that average: 64.6%, 59.4%, 57.7%. Meanwhile Tech has not shot above 55.3% from the floor all year.
Another dynamic of this terrifying offense is USM’s ability to maintain possession. The Eagles only turn over the ball on 14.7% of their possessions, the 8th best in the nation.
That accomplishment is largely due to PF LaDavius Draine, the holder of the lowest turnover rate in the nation: 4.8%. To make Draine more terrifying, the power forward is 6’4 and shoots 46% from the three point line. I guess we should stock up on some kryptonite.
On a positive note, the Golden Eagle defense is nothing to write home about. In most statistical categories, USM is in the middle of the pack on that side of the ball.
So let’s keep thinking about that average defense so we can keep Southern Miss’s offense from creating nightmares over the next couple sleeps.
Other Peoples Predictions
Massey – USM wins 66-63
KenPom – USM wins 67-62