Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 11, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Though the rumblings about “automatic #1 pick in the NBA draft” have calmed down a bit, it’s clear that Ben Simmons of LSU must keep winning if he wants to experience the thrills of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers got the job done in their first tournament game, a quarterfinal victory over upset-minded Tennessee. In Saturday’s SEC semifinals, they face vulnerable #1 seed Texas A&M for a shot at the finals.
Before crunching the numbers for that game…let’s quickly review the boxscores from Friday afternoon’s LSU and Texas A&M victories…
LSU 84, Tennessee 75
Two-Point Shooting: Tennessee 65%, LSU 51%
Three-Pointers: Tennessee 7/29, LSU 5/17
Free Throws: Tennessee 20/26, LSU 23/32
Rebounds: Tennessee 35, LSU 38
Turnovers: Tennessee 14, LSU 7
Phantom Score: Tennessee 69, LSU 84
For you newcomers, Phantom Score is simply two-point scoring plus rebounds. It’s a secondary stat that JIM HURLEY invented on these pages many years ago that often paints a more accurate picture of the game than the actual score. So, we know the right team won and covered. How did Tennessee lose while hitting 65% of their deuces? They were 17 of 26 inside the arc, but 7 of 29 outside it. Teams can get too trey-happy sometimes, particularly when they fall behind. LSU’s defense is so soft this year that the Vols should have kept attacking. Mostly a clean game for LSU outside of that very soft inside defense. You can pretty much deduce from those numbers that Ben Simmons and his team are more about offense than defense.
Texas A&M 72, Florida 66
Two-Point Shooting: Florida 49%, Texas A&M 44%
Three-Pointers: Florida 3/19, Texas A&M 4/16
Free Throws: Florida 15/21, Texas A&M 12/15
Rebounds: Florida 45, Texas A&M 43
Turnovers: Florida 12, Texas A&M 7
Phantom Score: Florida 87, Texas A&M 91
You’ll note that Phantom Score is MUCH higher than the actual score for both teams. What happened? Both teams were horrible from long range! The Gators and Aggies were a combined 7 of 35 from behind the arc. That meant the game was faster paced (and uglier) than the score suggests. Credit to the Aggies for avoiding turnovers. They needed to play a clean game because they weren’t anything special in any of the other categories. This is what we mean about the Aggies being vulnerable. They peaked early in the season. They were lucky the only meeting with Kentucky was a home (or the Wildcats would have been a #1 seed). Ben Simmons has a chance!
Now to JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats…
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
LSU: 111.6 per 100 possessions (#45 in the nation)
Texas A&M: 113.2 per 100 possessions (#31 in the nation)
These aren’t particularly great by Dance-caliber standards, which is why nobody’s really afraid of Texas A&M right now and LSU isn’t getting media buzz any longer. Slight edge to the Aggies.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
LSU: 102.7 per 100 possessions (#155 in the nation)
Texas A&M: 94.8 per 100 possessions (#17 in the nation)
Well, that LSU/Tennessee boxscore sure set us up for this didn’t. LSU is HORRIBLE on the defensive side of the floor by major conference standards. It should be easy for any smart team to exploit that! Strikes against Rick Barnes and the Vols for launching so many treys. The Aggies won the regular season crown because of their defense. LSU was a huge disappointment because few on the team want to guard anybody. Huge edge to the favorites on this side of the floor.
Texas A&M: #242
Big differences in pace. LSU is one of the fastest major conference teams in the country. A&M is below average in tempo. Generally, playoff basketball is slower than the regular season. And, the better team is more able to force its pace on the game. So, that favors Texas A&M keeping this one under control. If they can avoid turnovers again and attack the rim, the Aggies will win easily. LSU must get the Aggies out of their comfort zone, then get a true NBA-caliber performance from Simmons. Simmons can crash the Dance party…but the lack of defensive intensity on this team speaks very poorly of his leadership skills. Is he just biding his time until he gets paid?
Against the Spread
Texas A&M: 14-11-2
LSU burned money for backers all season. That’s what lazy defense will do to your ATS record. The Aggies did peak early…but might still have enough in their tanks to at least advance to the SEC Finals.
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Back with you Sunday with a look at one of the last few championship matchups (the Big 10 Finals are the early frontrunner, but you never know!). Then stuck with us all through the month of March for BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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