Kayla McDowell and the Tigers head to LSU on Thursday to face No. 16/14 LSU.
Feb. 5, 2014
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MU Head Coach: Robin Pingeton
(St. Ambrose `90) 57-59 at MU (4th season)
LSU Head Coach: Nikki Caldwell
(Tennessee, `94) 134-54 at LSU (6th season)
TIGERS CONTINUE ROAD STRETCH AT LSU
Mizzou continues its road stretch at LSU on Thursday, facing the Lady Tigers for the second time this season. The Tigers are 2-4 against LSU, including an 87-68 loss in mid-January. Mizzou has not made the trip to Baton Rouge since 1988. The Tigers came home with a 67-51 win over the Lady Tigers that year. The Tigers return home on Sunday to host Alabama in the annual Play 4Kay contest.
Mizzou welcomes the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sunday in a 2 p.m. contest. As always, Sunday will be the Family Funday, featuring a Mizzou bounce house and other activities on the concourse. Following the game, Seniors Bri Kulas and Tania Jackson will be signing limited edition posters on the court. The game will mark Mizzou's annual Play 4Kay game, supporting the Kay Yow Foundation and promoting breast cancer awareness.
LOOKING AT LSU
Ranked at No. 16/14 in the nation, the LSU Lady Tigers are 17-5 on the season coming off of a loss at No. 13 Kentucky. The team continues to be led by Theresa Plaisance, who averages 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Two other Lady Tigers average more than 10 points per game, including Raigyne Moncrief and Jean Kenney. The Lady Tigers are shooting 38.2-percent from distance this season, just behind Mizzou, however the Tigers average about five more treys per game than the Lady Tigers.
LAST TIME OUT
The Tigers fell to no. 7/8 South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. last Sunday despite a double-double from senior Bri Kulas. Junior Morgan Eye finished with 14 points, knocking down 11 of them in the second half thanks to 3-for-4 three-point shooting. Mizzou held Carolina to just 28.6-percent shooting from distance in the first half.
South Carolina (#7/8) was the sixth ranked opponent in the last seven games for the Tigers this season. Last season Missouri faced six total ranked teams during conference play, that number will increase this year with No. 16 LSU and No. 8 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.
The Tigers' win over No. 16 Vanderbilt marks Mizzou's second win over a ranked opponent this season. Mizzou has earned two or more wins over ranked opponents in three of Head Coach Robin Pingeton's four years at MU. Should the Tigers top No. 16 LSU, it will be the first time since the 2010-11 season that the Tigers have earned three top-25 wins. Prior to that, the last time Mizzou picked up three top-25 wins was the 2000-01 season.
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 59.3 points per game with an average scoring margin of +17.5 points. Mizzou averages 5.0 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 18.2 assists six 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 76.6-percent from the line this season, just under its season goal. That mark sits second in the SEC and checks in at No. 16 nationally. Eight 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 82.7-percent (91-of-110).
Speaking of free throws, Mizzou is very good from the free throw line in unfamiliar territory, shooting 82.2-percent from the charity stripe on the road. Kulas plays a big part of that percentage as she is shooting 85-percent from the line in road games this season (34-of-40).
Under fourth-year head coach Robin Pingeton, Mizzou is continuing to play great team basketball. That is evidenced by Mizzou's 16.4 assists per game (second in the SEC and 36th nationally) and its 1.01 assist/turnover ratio, which ranks fourth in the SEC and just outside the top-50 nationally.
In road games this season, the Tigers are sticking together. Mizzou assists on 68.6-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 65.1-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.
This season the Tigers are averaging 4.0 blocks per game, a number that 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 33 blocks on the season, good for an average of 1.5 per game (sixth-best in the SEC).
Staying on the topic of blocks, Mizzou has 87 blocks as a team this season, 15 more than it had all of last year (72). In fact, Frericks' 35 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: second in defensive rebounding at 29.6 per game and the Tigers are third in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 69.5-percent.
Speaking of rebounding, the Tigers are very good after the break this season, outrebounding opponents by 4.0 in the second half of games as the team averages 21.5 rebounds in the second half this season.
In SEC play, Kulas is averaging a league-best 21 points per game and she is fourth in rebounding at 8.6 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 FG% (fifth, .471), 3-point FG% (first, .512), 3-point FG made (third, 2.3) and defensive rebounds (first, 6.9 per game) during league play as she is putting together an All-SEC-type season.
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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