By the Numbers: Missouri at Kansas

We'll see if arming a team with two guys named "Lawrence" is enough to take out Kansas on its home floor.  Archrivals Missouri and Kansas square off in a game that is always circled on the calendar.  In this piece, I'll break down the teams using a player ratings system derived from box score stats.

For more details about the methodology behind the ratings, you can visit this page.  Finally, I’ve put together a table of the potential advantages in the game based on the strengths and weaknesses for each team and how they line up.

PSAN-Related Player Ratings - Cumulative This Season

Note: ePSAN70 weighs recent games more, but cPSAN70 weighs all games equally


ePSAN70 ("Efficiency" - per 70 possessions)
ePSAN ("Total Impact")




Mario Chalmers



Sasha Kaun



Julian Wright



Darrell Arthur



Darnell Jackson



Jeremy Case*



Brady Morningstar*



Brandon Rush



Sherron Collins



Russell Robinson



Rodrick Stewart*



Matt Kleinmann*



Brennan Bechard*



Brad Witherspoon*



* Rating not based on enough data.


cPSAN70 ("Efficiency" - per 70 possessions)
cPSAN ("Total Impact")




Matt Lawrence



Marshall Brown



Leo Lyons



Stefhon Hannah



Kalen Grimes



Marcus Watkins*



Nick Berardini*



Vaidatos Volkus*



Keon Lawrence



Jason Horton



J.T. Tiller



Darryl Butterfield



Glen Dandridge*



Michael Anderson Jr.*



* Rating not based on enough data.

Player Analysis: (largely based on ratings above)

Neither Missouri nor Kansas have one star player that is head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates by the numbers.  For MU, Matt Lawrence and Marshall Brown lead the charge.  In particular, Marshall Brown has surged offensively since conference play began, averaging nearly 24 points per game in the Tigers' three games, all losses.  In that stretch, he has gone 23-of-27 from the FT line, where a major portion of points have come.  It will be interesting to see if he can keep up that torrid pace of FT attempts, although based on efficiency stats, KU should be able to control Missouri's trips to the line.  For the season, Brown shoots very effectively from the field (55% FG, 38% on 3FG's) and grabs 3.7 rebounds per game.  The biggest positives for his rating are in the rebounding categories and 2FG.

Matt Lawrence has actually played the most efficient game by the numbers, making a whopping 50.6% of his 3FG's while averaging nearly 12 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.  Through Jan 6, his eFG% was second highest in the nation.  Clearly, the bulk of his positive rating comes from his 3-point shooting, since he takes about five 3FGA's per game.  Against KU's porous 3FG defense, Lawrence could have a big game.

The other two somewhat solid player ratings belong to Leo Lyons and leading scorer, Stefhon Hannah.  Lyons is a fantastic rebounder, with 4.8 per game while averaging only 17.5 minutes per game.  He also manages 0.7 blocks per game, which actually gives him a good BLK rate, considering how little he plays.  Hannah leads the team with 15.4 points/game while averaging 30 minutes.  Don't let his 44.8 FG% fool you.  Adjusted for 3FG shooting, he has a 52.8 eFG%.  Of course, there's also the fact that he's leading the nation with 3.44 STL/game.  The main problem Hannah runs into is turnovers.  He has committed twice as many TO's as the person ranking second on the team.  But at least he makes a decent number of AST.

Kalen Grimes, the 6-9 junior center who loves to rebound, hasn't been playing particularly well this season.  He's a dominant rebounder and intimidating blocker inside.  But despite 48% field goal shooting, he's only been able to convert on 16-of-30 freethrow attempts.  Also, 1.7 turnovers per game is pretty high for someone who plays only about 17 minutes per game.

The rest of Missouri's players have ratings that hover around the neutral (zero) level.  Butterfield may be struggling more than his teammates, shooting only about 40% from the field.

For Kansas, there are five players whose ratings are higher than all of Missouri's players.  So, even though both teams have some balance, this is clearly a mismatch on paper when you look at performance to date.  Anything can happen of course, and that's why they play the game, but one must concede that KU is the deeper, more talented team.

Mario Chalmers spearheads the Jayhawk offense with 57 eFG% shooting, nearly 2:1 AST:TO ratio and just shy of 3 steals per game.  The last couple of games, Chalmers has shown that he can make great contributions even when his shot isn't on or he isn't the one taking most of the shots.  Although he's always been known for perimeter shooting, his drives to the basket have been particularly effective of late for the Jayhawks.  Chalmers finishes around the basket as well as most any guard.  Current Kansas dashboard has Chalmers still listed as the Team MVP.

The starting duo of Sasha Kaun and Julian Wright have both taken interesting roads to get to where they are.  Kaun started the year by sitting out several games with a knee injury, but in the last handful of games, he's really started to blossom with nice low-post moves, strong finishes around the basket on feeds from teammates, and he's even ramped up the blocks.  Meanwhile, Wright started the year with a bang but has been very off and on, having a spectacular game or very weak game on any given day.  Nevertheless, Wright is still the second-highest rated player on the team, mostly by virtue of his strong eFG% (56.6%) and team-leading rebounding (8.1 per game).  If he could cut down on careless turnovers, his value to the team would grow immensely.

Darrell Arthur started the year as one of the most efficient players in the country but has since tailed off.  He's on an extended slump right now, although his last couple of games have seen him finally making some shots.  His rebounding is way down from the beginning of the season, and Arthur must now mentally prepare for the rigors of conference season.  His strongest categories are in offensive rebounding (though not lately), low turnovers, and most significantly a high rate of blocking shots (2.1 BLK/gm in only 21 minutes/gm).  For a big man, he also has a surprising amount of stealing ability (1.2 STL/gm).

Darnell Jackson has shown he can be counted upon to provide strong rebounding and occasional scoring, while Brandon Rush continues climbing the charts slowly as his shooting touch has returned, defense is paying dividends on team defense and is making big plays when the team needs him.  Rush is shooting just under 40% from 3-pt and even averages 1 BLK/gm.

The two point guards, Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins, are both trying to get into a groove.  Collins keeps showing flashes of brilliance but doesn't have a remarkable defensive game just yet.  What he can do is turn a possession that looks like it's going nowhere into a scoring opportunity with just a quick crossover dribble and penetration into the lane.  Unlike Robinson, the freshman Collins hasn't been struggling with finishing around the basket.  Robinson brings a more steady hand to the table though.  For the most part, Robinson has better handles, disrupts the opponent much more on defense and gets to the freethrow line fairly regularly to generate some offense there.  Robinson also generally refrains from taking too many shots, knowing full well there is an entire cast of shooters/scorers on this team.  Numbers of note for these two: Collins shooting 59 eFG%, 1.5:1 AST:TO ratio, 2.4 REB, 41% on 3FG's, and 0.4 STL.  Robinson is shooting 40.3 eFG%, 2.4:1 AST:TO ratio, 3.1 REB, 26% on 3FG's, 1.7 STL, and team-leading 61 FT attempts.

Statistical Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis

Derived from stats at

NOTE: From top to bottom, the statistics are sorted such that, at the top are the greatest advantages to the team on the left, and at the bottom are the greatest advantages for the team on the right. 

Clear Advantage for Kansas

No Clear Advantage

Clear Advantage for Missouri

Missouri OREB



Missouri FT%**



Kansas % own 2FGA's blocked**



Kansas OREB**



Kansas 3pt FG%



Missouri FT Rate



Missouri % Poss STL by Opp**



Missouri 2pt FG%**




Kansas FT Rate



Missouri PTS/Poss


Missouri TO rate**




Kansas eFG%



Missouri eFG%



Kansas 2pt FG%



Missouri % own 2FGA's blocked



Kansas PTS/Poss



Kansas FT%



Kansas TO rate




Missouri 3pt FG%**



Kansas % Poss STL by Opp**

** Denotes that team with advantage also ranks in Top 50 in that category

Missouri will have below avg % of FG's assisted

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