Wednesday, December 05, 2007

[Update, December 6, 2007: I've now located a complete play-by-play sheet of the Louisiana Tech-Texas Tech game, which allows me to make one little correction from what I stated from memory last night.]

Funny that my previous posting was on team runs in men's college basketball. Tonight's Texas Tech home game against Louisiana Tech was broadcast locally, and I was periodically checking in to see how the game was going. Early on, it was relatively even, with Texas Tech leading 12-10, as I recall. When I checked back a little while later, Texas Tech had pulled out to a 30-12 lead (corrected from last night), and then a while after that, the Red Raiders' lead had grown to 50-13.

According to this wire-service story I found at

Texas Tech (6-3) outscored the Bulldogs 46-3 [!!!] from midway through the first half to midway through the second half, going up by as many as 45 during the run.

Louisiana Tech (1-5) did not hit a single field goal for more than 19 minutes while turning the ball over 19 times.

[My emphasis added.]

For Louisiana Tech, which ultimately lost 86-31, the box score revealed these lowlights: 13-59 (.220) on field-goal attempts overall; 3-19 (.158) on three-pointers; 10-40 (.250) on two-pointers; and 2-6 (.333) on free throws.

While the game was still going on, after it had become evident that serious statistical analysis would be warranted, I went to Louisiana Tech's statistics page, so I could have the team's percentages entering the Texas Tech game. Such an a priori baseline provides a standard of comparison for how awry the Bulldogs' offense went against Texas Tech. Louisiana Tech's prior statistics were as follows:

Its field-goal shooting was 97-267 (.363) overall; 23-82 (.280) on three-point attempts; and therefore, 74-185 (.400) on two-point attempts. Even with these low prior shooting percentages, Louisiana Tech managed to shoot considerably below them against Texas Tech (since LT had so few free-throw attempts in Lubbock, I didn't bother with the prior percentage). The following figure conveys the above statistics in graphical form.

On Texas Tech's side of the ledger, the Raiders had an overall FG percentage of .545 (36-66) against LT, which is good, but not anything to make fans forget Villanova's shooting in the 1985 national championship game. Texas Tech's 3PT% of .333 (3-9), and FT% of .579 (11-19) were hardly spectacular, either.

There's a lot more that can be analyzed regarding Louisiana Tech's woeful outing in Lubbock, but given the lateness of the hour, that will have to wait... It's Thursday afternoon and I'm now back with more analyses, below...

Now that the play-by-play sheet is available, we can break down what happened to Louisiana Tech during the stretch in which it was outscored 46-3:

Of its 19 two-point attempts, the team made 1 basket, but missed 12 jumpers, 5 layups, and 1 dunk.

It went 0-9 on three-pointers.

It went 1-2 on free-throw attempts.

One way in which a cold streak can be self-perpetuating is that, as a team falls further and further behind, it starts jacking up three-point attempts in a feverish attempt to make a comeback. The Bulldogs exhibited some degree of this tendency, as in a sequence of six shots from right before to right after halftime, five were from behind the arc.

In closing, I want to go back to Louisiana Tech's overall shooting for the game. Using an online calculator, we can determine that under an independence assumption (i.e., one outcome having no bearing on the next, like coin-flipping)...

For a team coming in hitting .400 on two-point attempts (which LT was) to go 10-40 (or worse) in the Texas Tech game has a probability of .035.

And for a team coming in hitting .280 on three-pointers to go 3-19 (or worse) has a probability of .178.

Using the conventions of statistical testing, the Bulldogs were only significantly worse in their two-point field-goal shooting in the Texas Tech game than what their prior baseline was.

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