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November 21, 2012
As Sweet by Any Speed
Jack Taylor's 138 Points

by Kevin Pelton

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On Tuesday, the talk of college basketball wasn't Indiana beating Georgetown at Barclays Center, or even the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. The NBA prospects saw their spotlight stolen by a 5-10 sophomore guard from Black River Falls, Wisc. named Jack Taylor. The Grinnell star used the D-III school's extreme up-tempo system to make history, scoring 138 points, the most ever scored by an NCAA player at any level, shattering the 113 points posted by Bevo Francis of Rio Grande in 1954.

The sheer uniqueness of the box score from Grinnell's 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible College practically demands investigation using advanced statistics.

at Grinnell 179, Faith Baptist 104
Pace: 122.8
Offensive Ratings: Grinnell 145.0, Faith Baptist 84.9
eFG%: Grinnell .610, Faith Baptist .610
OR%: Grinnell .529, Faith Baptist .353
FTM/FGA: Grinnell .096, Faith Baptist .049
TO%: Grinnell .106, Faith Baptist .364

The team statistics are fascinating in their own right. Faith Baptist had 123 possessions and Grinnell 124, which is somewhat faster than the 105.2 possessions Grinnell averaged in its first two games of the season. For comparison's sake, per Kenpom.com the average Division I pace is about 67 possessions per game, barely half of the pace at which Grinnell and Faith Baptist played. Sheer speed is the first factor that helped Taylor make history. At 67 possessions, Taylor would have scored a mere 75 points.

Though Faith Baptist shot 61.0 percent from the field, the two teams actually had identical effective field-goal percentages. Few games better represent the importance of separating two-point three-point shooting; Faith Baptist did not make a single shot beyond the arc, trying just six, while Grinnell was 30-of-80. Most of Grinnell's efficiency came on twos, as the team shot 38-of-56 (67.9 percent) closer to the basket.

Still, the differentiating factor between the two teams had nothing to do with shooting. Instead, Grinnell pulled away on the strength of its offensive rebounding (securing more than half its own misses) and 49 turnovers. Given the way the Pioneers relentlessly pressure full court, that's nothing new. The team had forced 70 turnovers in its first two games.

In this context, Taylor still put together a remarkable effort. After all, Grinnell has been running "The System" under head coach David Arseneault for 24 years and no Pioneers player has scored 100 points. The previous D-III record was 89, scored by senior Griffin Lentsch last year against Principia. Then, Lentsch was in the role of featured scorer that has since been conferred on Taylor; Lentsch took just three shots in 14 minutes Tuesday, scoring seven points.

For the most part, fast-paced systems tend to be relatively democratic because they are founded on getting the ball to whoever is open in transition. Because of its reliance on the three-pointer, Grinnell's system is somewhat more focused. So leading scorers post incredible usage rates. In the first two games, Taylor had used 64.6 percent of the team's plays while on the court. Tuesday, he pushed that to 82.2 percent, meaning that his other four teammates collectively used plays at the same rate as an average player. Combine that with Taylor playing 36 minutes--none of his other teammates played more than 15--and there were plenty of opportunities for him to score. As notable as Taylor's 138 points were the 108 field goals and 71 three-pointers he attempted.

Given his volume, Taylor was actually reasonably efficient. By virtue of making 67.6 percent of his two-point attempts, Taylor scored at a .614 True Shooting Percentage. His six turnovers were also remarkably low given how many shots he was putting up. (Two Faith Baptist players turned the ball over at least 15 times.) So Taylor's 116.6 simple Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 plays used) was actually better than the team's average.

On the other side, Faith Baptist's David Larson scored 70 points on super-accurate 34-of-44 shooting. Again, field-goal percentage isn't useful in comparing the two teams because of their different styles. Larson missed his only two three-point attempts and had just two free throws, so his True Shooting Percentage (.765) is actually slightly worse than his shooting percentage. Larson was tremendously efficient in his own right, scoring at a rate of 137.9 points per play while using 37.7 percent of his team's plays.

To compare the two leading scorers, we can use the established relationship that one point of usage tends to be worth about one point of offensive efficiency. Normalized to average usage, Larson's adjusted Offensive Rating is an impressive 155.6. That's still dwarfed by Taylor's 177.8 mark. No matter how much context is added to the numbers, Taylor's 138-point performance was a historic one.

ADVANCED BOX SCORE

GRINNELL COLLEGE   Min   Pts   Ply    ORtg   AORtg    Usg    TS%
----------------------------------------------------------------
Jack Taylor         36   138   119   116.6   178.8   .822   .614
Patrick Maher       15     4     8    50.0    43.3   .133   .400
Tague Zachary       14     3     2   150.0   133.6   .036   .750
Jesse Ney           14     0     2     0.0     0.0   .036   .000
Joe Rogers          13     0     1     0.0     0.0   .019     -
Griffin Lentsch     14     7     6   119.0   109.5   .105   .902
Dominique Bellamy   12     2     2   100.0    84.2   .042  1.000
Luke Yeager         12     0     2     0.0     0.0   .042     -
Aaron Levin         11    13     7   189.0   184.6   .156   .945
Brian McManamy      11     2     1   200.0   182.3   .023  1.000
Marques Valdez       9     2     4    51.5    42.3   .108   .347
Garrett Nitz         9     0     0      -       -    .000     -
Jack Adams           9     0     0      -       -    .000     -
Ryan Davis           5     0     0      -       -    .000     -
Dylan Bartuch        4     4     2   200.0   192.5   .125  1.000
Evan Johnson         3     0     1     0.0     0.0   .083   .000
Cody Olson           3     0     1     0.0     0.0   .083     -
Leo Abbe             2     2     2   100.0   105.0   .250   .500
Brent LeMoine        2     2     1   200.0   192.5   .125  1.000
Anthony LaMacchia    2     0     0      -       -    .000     -
----------------------------------------------------------------
Totals              200   179   161  111.2      -      -    .626

FAITH BAPTIST      Min   Pts   Ply    ORtg   AORtg    Usg    TS%
----------------------------------------------------------------
David Larson        40    70    51   137.9   155.6   .377   .765
Tyler Betz          36     2    19    10.3     6.3   .161   .225
Eric Young          33     2    20     9.8     8.2   .183   .231
Dillon Gingerich    23     8    10    80.0    72.9   .129   .667
Cooper Redman       17     6    14    42.9    47.3   .245   .273
Jon Rocha           23     2     4    50.0    35.2   .052  1.000
Tim Jones            9     0     3     0.0     0.0   .099   .000
Justin Keck          8     2     3    66.7    57.8   .112  1.000
Jason Scheps         6     4     3   133.3   128.2   .149  1.000
James Stephenson     5     8     7   114.3   135.9   .416   .571
----------------------------------------------------------------
Totals             200   104   135    77.3      -      -    .608

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Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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