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Box Score Breakdown: Arkansas 97, Auburn 85

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A big offensive day propelled the Hogs over Auburn

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The Hogs remain undefeated after Wednesday’s 97-85 win over Auburn. For a recap of how it all went down, see Ben Brandon’s post here. In this piece we’ll dive into the advanced stats.

Advanced Stats Recap

(NOTE: Confused by any of these stats? Check out the advanced stats glossary.)

Here are three observations from this chart:

  • Arkansas just kept scoring. Floor percentage measures the percentage of possessions that a team ends by scoring. It doesn’t matter how many points, just that the possession ends with a score. Three-point-heavy teams like Auburn will score in short bursts. The key to beating a team like that is to score consistently, so the bursts are always playing catchup. Arkansas scored on 62% of its possessions, meaning that Auburn’s “bursts” usually started when the Tigers were down 7-8 points.
  • Auburn outshot the Hogs. You can see why we divide stats into True Shooting vs. EPR. Auburn got more points per scoring opportunity (1.29 to 1.26) thanks to an edge in Effective Field Goal %, which was of course driven by the fact that the Tigers hit more than half their three point attempts. The TS gap was closed a bit by Auburn struggling at the free throw line (14 of 24), which is an issue for them. Ultimately, Auburn’s problem was not turning its shots into points.
  • Arkansas had 11 more scoring chances. Arkansas’ 74 possessions became 77 scoring opportunities. Auburn’s 74 possessions became just 66 opportunities. Auburn being more efficient with those opportunities wasn’t enough. Arkansas came into the game ranked 8th in Division I in EPR, and the Hogs once again created more shots for their offense than the opponent. Arkansas was +2 on the offensive glass and +9 in turnovers. In the Stats Study, one of the keys to the game was neutralizing rebounds. Mission accomplished. Auburn has struggled with turnovers all year and gave it away on 26% of possessions in this game, compared to just 14% for the Hogs.

The individual player data also tells an interesting story:

A couple more observations:

  • Notae owns the second half. JD Notae scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half. Notae wasn’t ultra-efficient on offense (just 58% EFG, which is good but not great), but he was fine given his high usage and, more importantly, he graded out as the best defensive player on the floor, thanks to two steals and two blocks. He led the Hogs in Win Shares (basically a total measure of a player’s contribution towards a win).
  • Vanover was quietly good, Moody was quietly meh. Moody had 16 and Vanover 17, but the advanced stats say Vanover had the much better game. Moody didn’t have a great night from the field and had more turnovers (2) than assists (1) or offensive rebounds (1). He’ll have much better games, which is scary to think about. Vanover, on the other hand, overcame a quiet game from beyond the arc (1 of 6) to still have a strong offensive game. He had a 13% offensive rebound rate, made all six free throw attempts, and didn’t turn it over. He continues to show he’s not a one-trick pony on the floor.
  • Powell and Williams, yikes. In the Stats Study, I noted that this could be a Jalen Tate and Justin Smith game, due to their presumptive defensive matchups with Auburn’s leading scorer Justin Powell and top inside threat Jaylin Williams. I figured that Eric Musselman’s gameplan was to shut those two down and make Allen Flanigan and a bunch of struggling Tigers win the game for Auburn. The plan took a hit when Smith got hurt… but worked anyway. Powell was just 1 of 8 from the floor with seven turnovers and while Williams scored 13 points, he had just two rebounds and turned it over five times. Despite Arkansas’ gameplan working to perfection, Auburn almost blew it up anyway thanks to career games from guards Jamal Johnson and Devan Cambridge.

Up Next

Arkansas hosts Mizzou on Saturday. The Tigers are undefeated and ranked 12th in the country… but as of this writing, they are currently getting whacked at home by Tennessee. The Hogs have to hope that Smith’s ankle is okay, as he’ll be necessary for the Hogs to make a run this season.