Lindsey Cunningham and the Tigers welcome Vanderbilt Thursday.
Jan. 29, 2014
Arena: Mizzou Arena (15,061)
Live Scoring: http://www.mizzoustats.com
Radio: KTGR 100.5 FM, 103.1 FM and 1580 AM
Live Video: www.mizzounetwork.com
MU Head Coach: Robin Pingeton
(St. Ambrose `90) 56-58 at MU (4th season)
VU Head Coach: Melanie Balcomb
(Trenton State, `84) 275-110 at VU (12th season)
TIGERS CONTINUE SEC PLAY WITH NO. 16 VANDERBILT
The Tigers will continue their series of ranked opponents, hosting No. 16 Vanderbilt on Thursday, Jan. 30, before heading to No. 7 South Carolina and No. 14 LSU. Thursday's game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Mizzou Arena. The Tigers are 0-2 against Vanderbilt, dropping two contests to the `Dores last season, the last coming in the SEC tournament. Missouri fell 53-40 to Vandy on March 7. Thursday's game will mark another Student Night, as MU students in attendance will receive free black and gold beads as well as a free giveaway item.
The Tigers will hit the road for two consecutive games, first facing No. 7 South Carolina on Sunday then No. 14 LSU Thursday (Feb. 6). Mizzou is 1-1 against the Gamecocks in series history, the Tigers upset then-No. 14 South Carolina in Mizzou Arena last season, 65-68 on Feb. 28. This will be Missouri's first trip to Colonial Life Arena as the Tigers faced the Gamecocks for the first time in 2001 at the Duke Classic in Durham, N.C.
Ranked at No. 16 in the country, Vandy is sitting at 16-4 on the season and 5-2 in SEC play. The Dores ended a four game win streak on Sunday with a 61-57 loss to South Carolina. Vanderbilt senior, Christina Foggie leads the team this season with 19.5 points per game, a number that also leads the SEC. Foggie also averages almost four rebounds a game while dishing out almost four assists. Morgan Batey leads the team with a 4.8 rebounds per game, while Jasmine Lister is averaging five assists per game while shooting 91.3-percent from the charity stripe this season.
LAST TIME OUT
Missouri dropped its fourth consecutive contest to Mississippi State last Sunday, 69-62 despite taking an early lead over the Bulldogs in the first half. Both Bri Kulas and Morgan Eye finished the day with 14 points apiece. Sophomore point guard Lianna Doty dished out nine assists in the game, just one away from her season high of 10. The Tigers shot 50-percent from the field in the first half, holding MSU to just 29.7-percent shooting before the break.
Texas A&M (#17/#15) was the fourth consecutive ranked opponent for the Tigers this season. Last season Missouri faced six total ranked teams during conference play, that number will certainly increase this year with No. 16 Vanderbilt, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 14 LSU and No. 10 Tennessee still left on the schedule. This is the first time in Coach Pingeton's career at Missouri that the Tigers have faced four consecutive ranked teams, they played three consecutive in her first season with Missouri.
With an 11-2 record in the non-conference, the Tigers gained momentum leading to conference play. In Tiger victories this season, Mizzou is holding its opponents to just 59.7 points per game with an average scoring margin of +18.5 points. Mizzou averages 5.2 blocks per game in winning contests and also outrebounds opponents by almost seven rebounds per game. Proving that the Tigers unselfish strategy works, the Tigers average 18.6 assists per victory, eight more than opponents.
As the team, the Tigers aim for 80-percent free-throw shooting during practices and in games. Mizzou is now shooting 77-percent from the line this season, just under its season goal. That mark leads the SEC (just ahead of Thursday's opponent - Vanderbilt) and checks in at No. 12 nationally. Seven players are shooting 70-percent or better and Mizzou's leader in total free throws - Bri Kulas - is arguably the team's top shooter from the line, checking in at 84.5-percent (87-of-103).
Speaking of free throws, Mizzou is very good from the free throw line in unfamiliar territory, shooting 84-percent from the charity stripe on the road. Kulas plays a big part of that percentage as she is shooting 89-percent from the line in road games this season (32-of-36).
Under fourth-year head coach Robin Pingeton, Mizzou is continuing to play great team basketball. That is evidenced by Mizzou's 16.6 assists per game (third in the SEC and 30th nationally) and its 1.04 assist/turnover ratio, which ranks third in the SEC and just outside the top-50 nationally.
In road games this season, the Tigers are sticking together. Mizzou assists on 67.6-percent of its field goals. In fact, that has been a trend under the direction of head coach Robin Pingeton. Last season, Mizzou assisted on 64.4-percent of its field goals - up from 61.7-percent in 2011-12 and just 53.2-percent in 2010-11, Pingeton's first year. The team checks in at 64.8-percent this season, ahead of last season's pace and 11-percent higher than in her first season as the team continues to buy into her team-first coaching style.
The Tigers are holding SEC opponents to just 38.7-percent shooting this season, a statistic that sits third in the league.
This season the Tigers are averaging 4.2 blocks per game, a number that ranks sixth in the SEC. The number is much improved from last season when the Tigers averaged 2.3 blocks per game. Freshman Jordan Frericks is dominating in this category, she leads the team with 32 blocks on the season, good for an average of 1.6 per game (fifth-best in the SEC).
Staying on the topic of blocks, Mizzou has 83 blocks as a team this season, 11 more than it had all of last year (72). In fact, Frericks' 32 blocks are the most by a Tiger since Christine Flores (who was drafted in the WNBA draft) had 93 during her senior season in 2011-12.
The Tiger staff is stressing a defensive mindset this season, and Missouri's numbers are showing it. The Tigers are amongst leaders in the SEC: first in defensive rebounding at 29.5 per game and the Tigers are second in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.4-percent.
Speaking of rebounding, the Tigers are very good after the break this season, outrebounding opponents by 4.5 in the second half of games as the team averages 21.6 rebounds in the second half this season.
Senior Bri Kulas has been on a tear rebounding the basketball as of late. Over her last five games, Kulas is averaging 10.4 boards per game (giving her a double-double average with her team-best 21.8 ppg). Her 10.4 boards per game in that span are a team-best and she has moved her average to a team-best 8.9 in SEC play, the fourth-best in the SEC.
In SEC play, Kulas is averaging a league-best 21.9 points per game and she is fourth in rebounding at 8.9 per contest. She is the only player in the conference to rank in the top-five in both of those statistical categories. Kulas also ranks in the league's top-five in FT% (fifth, .884), 3-point FG% (first, .531), 3-point FG made (third, 2.4) and defensive rebounds (first, 6.9 per game) during league play as she is putting together an All-SEC-type season. Kulas is the only player in the league to rank in the top-five in six different categories during SEC play. She is also just outside the league's top-five in FG% at .459, which checks in at sixth.
Staying on the topic of Kulas, she is in elite company this season. She joins Tennessee's Meighan Simmons as the only players in the SEC to score 10 or more field goals in at least four games this season. Simmons was an All-American last season and the SEC Co-Player of the Year and the Preseason Player of the Year in the league and Kulas is averaging more points, more rebounds and shooting at a higher clip (both inside and outside the arc) than Simmons this season.
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