Four Factors Review: Arkansas 97, Auburn 85

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Four Factors Review: Arkansas 97, Auburn 85

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

The Advanced Box Scores for this game and the whole season can be found here.

Last night kicked off SEC play for the Tigers, and while it was a tight game for most of the contest, Arkansas pulled away in the last eight minutes to win 97-85. Defensive lapses and turnovers doomed Auburn in the second half, but this was a closer game than the final margin would have you believe.


eFG% - Man, it hurts to lose when you shoot the ball as well as Auburn did last night. This was Auburn’s second best shooting night this season per eFG%, which largely was due to a combined 10 of 13 from beyond the arc by Jamal Johnson and Devan Cambridge. Even more heartbreaking is having this performance against one of the best defensive teams in the country, as Arkansas was allowing opponents to post just a 43.6% eFG% on the season.

Arkansas outperformed their season average shooting the ball by a negligible amount, but considering Arkansas played the nations 297th most difficult schedule to date, I’d say Auburn should have been able to clamp down a little more on the Arkansas shooters. Arkansas to their credit distributed to five double-digit scorers, making it extremely difficult for the young Auburn defense to focus on any one scorer.

FTA/FGA - This was largely a wash, as the difference was just a four percentage point difference in free throw attempts per field goal attempt. As we’ve seen all season, however, actually converting on those free throws remains a struggle for this team. Arkansas shot 77% from the stripe to Auburn’s 58%, which combined to be a 10 point advantage for the Hogs.

Turnover Rate - This was the killer. Auburn got seventeen turnovers from arguably its three most trusted players in Justin Powell, Allen Flanigan, and Jaylin Williams. Credit where credit is due, as an Arkansas defense which was forcing turnovers on 19.4% of possessions pressured Auburn for 13 steals and a 23.7% turnover rate for the Auburn offense.

Ultimately, this was the crux of the game. Due to a 10.5 percentage point Arkansas advantage in turnover rate (18 Auburn turnovers to 10 for Arkansas), Arkansas simply had more chances to score than Auburn. The Razorbacks had 65 field goal attempts to Auburn’s 54, so even though Arkansas wasn’t as efficient shooting, they had enough volume to make up for it. That was driven almost solely by turnovers.

Offensive Rebound Rate - Like the free throws, while Arkansas had a small advantage, it was effectively a wash. However, Auburn needed to win this battle to make up for the turnover discrepancy. If the Tigers could’ve prevented Arkansas from winning on the offensive glass, Arkansas’s shooting inefficiency would’ve come back to bite them. Unfortunately, Desi Sills, the 6’2” junior, led the game with four offensive rebounds, and Auburn had no solution for preventing the 7’3” Connor Vanover from grabbing a few putback slams.


The heaviest weight in the PGWE is eFG%, which is fairly intuitive, as scoring the basketball is what most directly helps you win. With Auburn’s huge advantage there, it makes sense why the model saw this game as effectively a coinflip. If Auburn just wasn’t a young team making young team mistakes, this game likely goes the other way. Unfortunately, this team is going to have these kinds of growing pains.

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