Friday Figures: Home Court Advantage, West Virginia’s Press & Baylor’s Offensive Woes

Posted by Chris Stone on January 5th, 2018

Friday Figures is a (somewhat) weekly feature where we look at some of the most intriguing statistics from the Big 12. This week, we’re diving into the Big 12’s home court advantage (or lack thereof), Bob Huggins’ preseason fib and what’s ailing Baylor.

Home-court advantage ain’t what it used to be. That home teams in the Big 12 have only won two of their 12 contests so far is one of the more startling figures to come out of early conference play. Obviously the first 12 games have been dramatic, but maybe it should not be a big surprise that visiting teams are winning more often. Over the past two seasons, the league registered the first- and third-worst conference home win percentages for the Big 12 of the KenPom era, as the graph below shows.

Source: KenPom

This phenomenon isn’t unique to the Big 12, though. Across the spectrum, home teams are winning conference games less often. Over the summer, Ken Pomeroy put in some work trying to figure out why exactly such a decline exists. His conclusion was that home teams are increasingly losing out on their foul advantage which coincides very well with their decline in home court advantage. So, although it’s unlikely that Big 12 home teams will continue to post a .200 win percentage over the course of the season, it is certainly possible that we’ll see more unexpected road wins like the one Texas Tech pulled off at Kansas.

Bob Huggins is a fibber. Before the start of the season, Huggins suggested that West Virginia may not use its fabled press quite as often this season because of depth issues. “We might be better served to do something else,” he said at the time. “We’re going to keep doing it and see. I’m more convinced we can’t than we can right now.” So far the lack of a deep bench has played out just as Huggins expected, with a Press Virginia low of 34.6 percent of the team’s total minutes coming from the bench, per KenPom. Despite that, West Virginia continues to press just as much and just as well as ever before, holding teams to 0.745 points per possession and a 31.5 percent turnover rate on those possessions.

Source: Synergy

Huggins is also set to receive some reinforcements to shore up his rotation. The school announced earlier this week that forward Esa Ahmad has been cleared to return against Texas Tech on January 13. The 6’8″ junior averaged 18.9 points per 40 minutes last season, tops among West Virginia’s rotation players.

Baylor’s offense needs a reboot. Through two conference games, the Bears have the worst offense in the Big 12 at 95.3 points per 100 possessions. They haven’t finished last in the league on that end of the floor since 2003-04 when Scott Drew initially took over the team in the wake of a scandal. So, what’s the problem? Partly, Baylor has made just four three-pointers in two games and been outscored 51-12 from deep. The Bears are shooting 16.7 percent from behind the arc in conference play and most of those struggles can be traced to point guard Manu Lecomte, who has taken 11 of Baylor’s 24 total threes (45.8 percent). Lecomte, a career 42.4 percent three-point shooter, is so far 2-of-11 in the Big 12. It would be ignorant to expect him to continue to shoot so poorly, but given how few threes the rest of the players on the roster take, the Bears need their senior guard to turn things around quickly. Otherwise, basketball’s math problem — that threes are worth are worth more than twos — could rear its head more often.

Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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