Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 7

Jonathan Holmes and the Texas Longhorns held their own on the boards with the physical Michigan State Spartans. - USA TODAY Sports

It's Christmas, so let's cut to the chase.

Background information on the statistics is posted here, here, and here.

TEXAS (56) vs MICHIGAN STATE (67)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

OPPONENT

DIFFERENCE

FGA

52

47

5

FTA

24

30

-6

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

63.4

61.3

2.1

Off Rebs

12

9

3

TOs

18

16

2

ORB - TO

-6

-7

1

TS%

0.442

0.547

-0.105

ORB%

31%

31%

TO%

26%

23%

Points/100 Poss

81

98

Nothing particularly complicated happened in the Texas-Michigan State game. The Longhorns took two extra shots than the Spartans (where "shots" refers to the composite number FGA + 0.475xFTA), but Michigan State had a large true shooting percentage advantage, and won easily.

Let's take a short look at the balance of shots, before diving into the true shooting percentage. Texas held their own on the glass with Michigan State. This is no small feat; Tom Izzo's program is built on slaughtering opponents on the boards. Each team got to 31 percent of the available offensive rebounds. Playing Michigan State to a draw on the glass is the best that a team can hope for. Jonathan Holmes, Cameron Ridley, and Connor Lammert all had defensive rebounding percentages of greater than 20 percent, and Ioannis Papapetrou grabbed 17 percent of the possible defensive rebounds while on the floor.

There isn't much to say about the turnovers. Both teams turned the ball over a lot. But both teams play tough defense and have struggled with turnovers all season, so this wasn't a surprise.

Michigan State won this game because they were able to crack Texas' interior defense. Horns fans shouldn't worry too much about if Izzo has "exposed" a weakness in the Texas defense; the Spartans are probably one of the few teams in the country capable of beating Texas inside. The player doing most of the beating was Derrick Nix, who defines the archetype of the Michigan State big man. Nix had 9.5 Points Above Median (PAM), and he did it in an unusual way. Nix did his damage on the low block. There are very few players in college basketball who can score efficiently on post moves. Nix went 5-7 on shots at the rim. One of these five baskets was assisted, and one was a tip in on an offensive rebound. The other three baskets were earned on low post moves. Nix also earned 13 free throws, many coming when he was fouled making a move on the low block. Watching Nix make move after move down low, I could almost hear an old basketball coach yelling, "dammit Haley, make him beat you with his right hand!"

Nix's outstanding play overshadowed what was a very good game by his backup, Adreian Payne, who had a PAM of 4.5. Like Nix, Payne also did his damage at the rim and the free throw line. As a team, the Spartans took 44 percent of their field goal attempts at the rim, and converted on 67 percent of these shots. For the season, Longhorn opponents average 29 percent of their attempts at the rim, and make 54 percent of these shots. Not very many teams are big enough inside to pull off what Michigan State did against Texas.

Texas' shooting woes continued. Only Julien Lewis (PAM=3.1) had a PAM greater than zero. Lewis played an outstanding game; he also was the Longhorn primarily responsible for putting the squeeze on Spartan guard Keith Appling, who finished the game with a PAM of 0.2. On the occasions where Texas did make a shot, there was a high probability that it was assisted by Javan Felix. The freshman point guard assisted on 66 percent of Longhorn baskets while he was on the floor, and he was on the floor for practically the entire game.

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