Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tonight's Kansas at Kansas State men's basketball game featured a number of streakiness-related storylines:

Even though playing on one's home court typically gives a team an advantage, for 24 straight years K-State had always come up short when hosting KU. Of course, the Wildcats hadn't done very well against the Jayhawks, regardless of venue; the above-linked article notes that, "The Jayhawks had beaten Kansas State 35 of their last 36 overall."

Anyway, K-State's 24-game losing streak to KU in Manhattan, Kansas (the Little Apple) is now over, thanks to an 84-75 Wildcat win.

Another streak ended by this game is that of KU's 20 straight wins to open up the season.

Finally, K-State frosh Jacob Pullen went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Pullen came into the game shooting .707 from the stripe; according to this online binomial calculator, the probability of a .707 free-throw shooter making all 10 attempts is only .03(assuming a player's free throw attempts are independent events, like coin-flipping, which has tended to be a reasonable assumption).


Meanwhile, over at West Virginia University, the Mountaineers went a woeful 1-for-22 on three-point attempts, in losing to Cincinnati. WVU entered the game shooting .378 from behind the arc, a fairly strong clip. Using the same online calculator as above, for a .378 team to make only 1 (or 0) out of 22 has a probability of .0004.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A couple of brief items...

Caron Butler of the NBA's Washington Wizards made all 10 of his free throws Sunday against Milwaukee, bringing his streak of perfection from the stripe to 70. Butler is still a ways away from the record, which is 97.

Playing against Vanderbilt, the University of Florida "put together a 23-0 spurt and built a 34-6 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game, then cruised to their 13th victory in 15 games against the Commodores..." (article).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Caron Butler of the NBA's Washington Wizards kept his streak of consecutive made free throws intact today, as his team defeated the Dallas Mavericks in a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day matinee. According to this article:

Butler had five assists and five steals and also went 2-for-2 on free throws to extend his franchise record and NBA season high to 56 in a row at the line.

[I thank Brian Burke for making me aware that Butler was on such a streak.]

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In tonight's men's college basketball action, the University of Texas used a 24-2 second-half run to turn around its Big 12 game against the University of Colorado. Trailing 41-28, the Longhorns surged to a 52-43 lead (play-by-play sheet). Texas seemed to have the game under control, leading 69-59 with 4:25 remaining. However, Colorado scored the final eight points of the game to make things close, ultimately losing 69-67.


The game between national No. 2 Memphis and Southern Mississippi featured a couple of streakworthy items. The nickname "Southern Miss" was an appropriate description for the team's three-point shooting today, 0-for-14. Also, Memphis closed out the first half on a 20-3 run, en route to an easy victory.


George Mason University's Dre Smith set an NCAA record by going 10-for-10 on three-pointers against James Madison. The previous record for most treys in a game without a miss was 9-for-9, which was held by three players.


In Florida's overtime win over Kentucky, the Gators' Nick Calathes dominated the extra period (OT play-by-play sheet). He was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line (he was only 3-of-7 in regulation), hit a three-point shot, and got two rebounds. There's no truth to the rumor that he also drew up Florida's offensive plays, taped the players' ankles, and cooked the pre-game meals.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Washington State men's basketball team continues to show its explosiveness. Coming off of last Saturday's loss to UCLA, in which the Cougars nearly pulled off a miracle comeback by hitting seven three-pointers in the final 1:37 of the game, WSU dispatched Oregon State last night 69-46, thanks to a 20-4 run to start the second half.

Also on the topic of three-point barrages, in last night's Suns-Lakers game in L.A. (won by the visitors, 106-98), the two teams made a combined seven three-pointers in roughly a three-minute stretch near the end of the game (from 4:43-1:27 remaining; see this fourth-quarter play-by-play sheet). Not quite as amazing as WSU vs. UCLA, but still noteworthy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Here at the Hot Hand page, we generally know when a team is on a winning streak or losing streak. In the National Hockey League, however, defining a losing streak is a little more complicated.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Texas Tech's easy 68-53 win tonight over Texas A&M (in which Bob Knight received his 900th coaching victory), the Red Raiders ran off spurts of 20-3 to close the first half and 20-4 midway through the second half, after the Aggies had closed the gap a bit. If you look at the "Game Flow" graph on's game-summary page, you'll see that Texas Tech (plotted in red) scored at a steady rate the whole game, rather than scoring in bursts. Thus, it was Texas A&M's (in dark maroon) "flatlining" (i.e., going virtually scoreless) for long stretches that contributed to the Raiders' outscoring the Aggies heavily during the two aforementioned barrages.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's not even 3:30 (Central) in the afternoon yet, and already today's men's college basketball action has produced two games of runs.

The team from my home school, Texas Tech, traveled to Oklahoma State to open Big 12 play. I watched most of the second half on TV while having lunch at a campus area pizzeria in Lubbock, and saw the Cowboys nail a bunch of three-pointers in a row to pull away from the Red Raiders. The final was a 74-55 OSU win.

Only upon looking at the game article later, did I learn that the same player, Obi Muonelo, hit four treys in a row, all by himself; in all, he finished the game 5-of-6 from behind the arc.

Interestingly, Muonelo came into the game shooting only .317 on three-pointers (and his team, .346). As I've done time and again, I went to the online binomial calculator from Vassar College and estimated the probability of a .317 prior shooter hitting five (or more) out of six. This test, which assumes independence of observations like coin tosses, came up with a probability of .014 (about 1-in-71).

Encompassing its three-point "hit parade," Oklahoma State went on a 21-2 run in pulling away at the end. In the first half, Texas Tech had put together an 18-5 run.


Meanwhile, North Carolina, the nation's top-ranked team, used a 25-0 spurt over the latter part of the first half to break open its game against rival NC State.


Here's another game to add, from a few hours later. In routing Wyoming 83-56, Texas Christian University (TCU) got off to a 22-4 start and also had a 12-0 run in the second half.


Oops, there's one more game to add. I vaguely had heard that Washington State staged a furious rally at the end against UCLA Saturday to make the game close, though the Bruins held on for an 81-74 victory. It wasn't until I was talking on the phone to my father in L.A., however, that I learned the full nature of WSU's comeback.

With UCLA up 68-53, the Cougars made an unbelievable SEVEN three-pointers in the final 1:37. Obviously, the Bruins needed some scoring of their own down the stretch to maintain their lead; had the Cougars' 21-point barrage been unanswered, it would have been enough to overcome the 15-point deficit. The Bruins indeed scored 13 points of their own in the final 1:37, including 7-of-8 free throws by Darren Collison (article, play-by-play sheet).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Perhaps the biggest sports story tonight in the U.S. concerns the St. Louis Blues -- and I'm not talking about the hockey team!

The St. Louis University Billikens men's basketball team suffered a 49-20 loss to George Washington University -- yes, that's right, 20 points for the entire game. It was the lowest output for a team in the 20-plus years of the shot-clock era.

The Billikens' overall field-goal success rate was 7-of-48 (.146). Their three-point shooting was a pathetic 1-of-19 (.053), which means the team went 6-of-29 (.207) on two-point attempts. St. Louis's remaining 5 points came from the free-throw line (on 10 attempts).

Further, as shown in this play-by-play sheet, there was a point where a little more than 29:00 minutes of the game had elapsed and St. Louis still had only 8 points! It thus took a furious Billiken rally to get up to 20 points.

What's funny is that SLU came into tonight's contest on somewhat of a hot streak. Quoting from a team press release, "The Billikens have fashioned a season-best three-game winning streak. During the run, the Billikens are shooting 52.1 percent from the field, including 43.2 percent from beyond the arc..."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A couple of quick items:

Monday night, the Phoenix Suns shot 20-of-31 (.645) on three-pointers in a 137-115 victory over Denver. I can't recall a team shooting that high of a percentage on so many attempts from behind the arc.


After Texas Tech's come-from-behind win over the University of Texas-El Paso last Saturday afternoon, Red Raider Coach Bob Knight created a stir by bringing his 21-month-old grandson to the press conference, yet not refraining from his trademark salty language.

Overshadowed by the spectacle was an apparent expression by Knight of his skepticism regarding game-to-game momentum -- at least for his current team. Quoting from the linked document:

...when a reporter asked Knight whether the game would give his team momentum, Knight responded, "Who knows? I don't know any of that stuff..."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Last night's opening of men's basketball play in the Big 10 conference brought a couple of hot shooting performances from behind the three-point arc.

At Iowa, the Hawkeyes' Justin Johnson almost single-handedly brought his team back against Indiana, but the Hoosiers held on for a 79-76 victory. According to this article:

Johnson hit six 3s in the final 1:56, each one seemingly longer than the last, to bring Iowa within two with 4.8 seconds left.

"I actually thought we did a good job on him until the last two minutes. Then he went crazy," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said of Johnson, Iowa's top scoring threat.

Johnson hit three 3s in a span of 27 seconds to bring Iowa within striking distance, and followed those up with a 40-foot bank shot with 4.8 seconds to go that sent the few remaining fans in the building into a frenzy.

Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor, Jon Leuer of the visiting Wisconsin Badgers went a perfect 5-for-5 on three-pointers, leading his team to a 70-54 win over the Michigan Wolverines.

Let's keep an eye on Johnson and Leuer as the season unfolds!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year! Here are several basketball items to start off 2008...

Last night's NBA game featuring the Minnesota Timberwolves at the L.A. Clippers presented a number of streak-related storylines ( article). Most, but not all, were favorable to the Clippers, who staged a comeback 91-82 victory:

The Clippers snapped three losing streaks: six straight losses overall, seven straight losses at home, and having “lost all 17 games this season when trailing after three [quarters].”

The Clippers pulled off a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter, with Minnesota missing its first 10 shots of the period.

On the other hand, the Clippers set a team record of the embarrassing sort, going 0-for-14 on three-point attempts.


The Golden State Warriors, a team known for offensive explosiveness, didn't disappoint at Houston, pulling away for a 112-95 victory. Here's an excerpt from the game article:

The Warriors trailed 80-75 after three quarters, then hit six 3-pointers in the first 9 minutes of the fourth to pull ahead. They hit 14 of 25 shots, including 7-for-13 from 3-point range, and didn't commit a single turnover in the final quarter.


Portland had its 13-game winning streak ended.


My local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, ran an article yesterday about free-throw difficulties being experienced by the Texas Tech University men's team. When you see that player(s) are performing at a lower percentage than they have in the past, further analyses are needed to assess whether the discrepancies are just random fluctuations or something more significant. I conducted such analyses and posted them on the newspaper's website, directly underneath the original article (click here).