Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 14

Is it possible that the Longhorns are turning the corner? The Texas basketball team has been playing really well for the last few weeks, but a difficult schedule and some bad breaks have prevented them from turning high quality play into wins. But that wasn't a problem this week. Texas played very well against both Kansas State and Oklahoma. Kansas State is a tough team, and while Oklahoma has been struggling lately, you should never take a road win for granted.

Why are things looking up? I think that we are starting to see the effects of this team gaining experience against tough competition. While the losses to Kansas, Missouri, and Baylor were tough, playing against a higher level of competition seemed to really help this team. Texas is now playing defense at a much higher level than they were at the start of the conference season, and the offense is better than it is given credit for. In fact, Texas has the #18 ranked offense in the country, based on the kenpom.com rankings. While Texas' offense has looked inconsistent at times, much of this is due to the high quality of defenses that this team has faced. Additionally, Texas really excels at getting offensive rebounds (#11 ranked team by kenpom.com) and getting to the free throw line (#15 ranked team). And unlike some recent Texas teams, this year's squad hits their free throws.

In this edition of Inside the Numbers, I will recap the week's games and talk about some troubling home vs. road splits on free throw attempts in Big 12 games.

The Week In Review

Background information on the statistics is posted here and here.

TEXAS vs KANSAS STATE

CATEGORY

TEXAS

K-STATE

DIFFERENCE

FGA

41

58

-17

FTA

48

12

36

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

63.8

63.7

0.1

Off Rebs

13

12

1

TOs

16

16

0

ORB - TO

-3

-4

1

TS%

0.588

0.502

0.085

ORB%

39%

35%

TO%

24%

24%

Points/100 poss

112

95

This was a great win for Texas. Both teams took the same number of shots (where shots refers to FGA+ 0.475xFTA), and Texas' advantage in true shooting percentage led to a win. Texas shot a staggering number of free throws in this game, with 48 attempts from the line. Kansas State only shot 12 free throws. I think it is instructive to look back at the previous matchup between these two teams, when Kansas State took 39 free throws and Texas took 21 free throws. There were a lot of fouls in both of these games.

So were Texas' 48 free throws simply the result of Big 12 home cooking from the officials? This was probably a factor, but Texas was also far more aggressive at attacking the basket than was Kansas State. In addition to shooting 1.17 free throws for every field goal attempt, Texas also took 34% of their field goal attempts at the rim. Kansas State shot only 0.21 free throws for every field goal attempt and only 17% of their field goal attempts were taken at the rim. Simply put, Texas was getting to the basket (and getting fouled) and Kansas State was not.

The Texas defense turned Kansas State into a jump shooting team. 47% of their field goal attempts were two point jump shots. Kansas State also lives on offensive rebounds, averaging just under 42% for offensive rebounding percentage on the season. Texas held their own on the defensive glass (usually a big weakness for the Longhorns), holding Kansas State to a 35% offensive rebounding percentage.

Alexis Wangmene had the game of his career. He was fantastic on offense, with 6.6 Points Above Median (PAM). He also did a great job on the defensive glass, pulling down 35% of the available defensive rebounds. I have picked on Wangmene's rebounding a lot, so it is only fair to point out just how good and important it was against Kansas State. Wangmene's work on the defensive glass was the key in neutralizing Kansas State's greatest strength, offensive rebounding. Wangmene came to play.

J'Covan Brown and Myck Kabongo both had good shooting games. Brown had a PAM of 5.0, and Kabongo had a PAM of 3.6. Unfortunately, both of these guys struggled protecting the ball a bit. Kabongo turned the ball over in 34% of the possessions that he "used." Brown's turnover rate was 18%, which actually isn't bad, but is well below his standard. On the season, Brown's turnover rate is a fantastic 11.3%. There weren't very many assists in this game, but you don't get assists on free throws.

Shane Southwell and Will Spradling did the most damage for Kansas State, with PAM totals of 3.2 and 2.4, respectively. In the previous Texas / Kansas State game, Rodney McGruder went off with a PAM of 9.5. In this game, he was held to a PAM of 1.4.

TEXAS vs OKLAHOMA

CATEGORY

TEXAS

OU

DIFFERENCE

FGA

52

58

-6

FTA

29

8

21

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

65.8

61.8

4

Off Rebs

14

13

1

TOs

11

15

-4

ORB - TO

3

-2

5

TS%

0.533

0.469

0.063

ORB%

41%

36%

TO%

18%

24%

Points/100 poss

110

91

There was a lot to like about this win for Texas. Texas had more shots than Oklahoma and was more efficient with their shots, which is generally a recipe for an easy win. Although they were ice cold from the floor, overall the Texas offense was OK. Texas had a true shooting percentage of 0.533, a decent turnover rate, and a high offensive rebounding rate. Texas made up for poor shooting from the field by going 24 of 29 from the free throw line. 29 free throws is a lot of shots from the line. And hitting 83% on that many free throws is excellent.

Texas' struggles from the field had a lot to do with missing jump shots. Texas only hit 28% of their two point jump shots (their season average is a 35% rate of hitting two point jump shots) and 26% of their three point jump shots (they normally hit about 33% from three point range). Clint Chapman really struggled offensively, missing all three of his attempts at the rim, and going 1 for 6 on two point jump shots. Chapman ended up with a PAM of -4.5. Ouch.

The Texas offense was a team effort. The most efficient scorers were Myck Kabongo (PAM=3.5), Sheldon McClellan (PAM=3.0), J'Covan Brown (PAM=2.8), and Jonathan Holmes (PAM=2.3). All four of these guys got to the line and made good use of their time there.

Defensively, this was another solid effort by the Longhorns. For Oklahoma, only Cameron Clark was particularly effective as a scorer, with a PAM of 3.4. Oklahoma generally struggles to get to the basket, attempting only 25% of their shots at the rim on the season. In this game, Texas completely shut off opportunities at the basket, as Oklahoma went 2 for 6 on shots at the rim (only 10% of their total field goal attempts were at the rim). 64% of the Sooner field goal attempts were two point jump shots. OU knocked down 46% of these two point jump shots, which kept the game closer than it otherwise would have been. Their season average is to hit 36% of two point jump shots -- 46% is a very high field goal percentage for two point jump shots.

Free throw attempts and home court advantage

I have wanted to write about this issue for a while, but I wanted to wait until Texas had won a home game with a big free throw shooting advantage. I didn't want this to look like sour grapes.

The free throw shooting disparities between home and road teams in the Big 12 are troubling. The series of games played between Texas and Kansas State serve as an interesting example. The game at Kansas State saw the Wildcats attempt 18 more free throws than Texas attempted. In Austin, the Longhorns attempted 36 more free throws than Kansas State.

While these two games may be an extreme example, there is a systematic effect that is easy to see. In the table below, I have compiled the ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts for each Big 12 team in home and road games during conference play. Only Texas Tech has gotten to the line more frequently during road games. Kansas and Oklahoma State only have seen modest increases in their free throw shooting rates at home. For all other teams, the differences are pretty large. On average, road teams attempt 0.33 free throws for every field goal, while home teams attempt 0.42 free throws for every field goal.

Team road FTA/FGA Home FTA/FGA
Texas 0.39 0.54
K-State 0.35 0.52
Iowa State 0.28 0.50
Missouri 0.35 0.41
Kansas 0.32 0.35
Baylor 0.30 0.40
Ok. St. 0.39 0.42
Oklahoma 0.25 0.39
A&M 0.27 0.35
Texas Tech 0.44 0.36
League total 0.33 0.42

This is a pretty large difference. Using a formula I have previously developed, I estimate that increasing your free throw rate from 0.33 to 0.42 should raise a typical team's points per 100 possessions total by about 1 or 2 points per 100 possessions. Now we should consider that the road team shows a similar reduction in offense, compared with when they play at home. If a typical game has around 67 possessions, then we estimate that the home team will enjoy roughly a 2 to 3 point advantage based off of extra free throws. This is a non-trivial effect when we consider that 20% of Big 12 conference games this season have been decided by 3 points or less.

This probably isn't all on the officials. But I am not naive enough to believe that it doesn't have anything to do with them.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Burnt Orange Nation

You must be a member of Burnt Orange Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Burnt Orange Nation. You should read them.

Join Burnt Orange Nation

You must be a member of Burnt Orange Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Burnt Orange Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker