The Tigers will head to Florida for the first time in program history.
Feb. 19, 2014
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MU Head Coach: Robin Pingeton
(St. Ambrose `90) 58-61 at MU (4th season)
UF Head Coach: Amanda Butler
(Florida, `95) 137-90 at UF (7th season)
TIGERS LOOK FOR WIN ON FIRST-EVER TRIP TO GAINESVILLE
Mizzou will be back out on the road again Thursday in Gainesville, Fla. for a 6 p.m. contest against the Florida Gators. The Tigers have a 1-0 advantage over Florida, meeting the team at Mizzou Arena last season. The Tigers earned a 69-54 victory, and look to improve to 2-0 on the series in their first-ever trip to Gainesville. Thursday's game will air on Florida's Sun Sports.
The Tigers will be back in Columbia, Mo. on Sunday to host No. 10 Tennessee. Sunday's game marks the annual Blackout event and all fans are encouraged to wear black to Mizzou Arena. The first 500 fans to arrive will receive free black Mizzou t-shirts. Mizzou is 1-4 on the series with the Lady Vols, upsetting the team last season in Mizzou Arena, 80-63 after falling at Tennessee, 84-39 earlier in the season.
FOCUSING ON FLORIDA
The Florida Gators are 7-5 in SEC play and 17-8 overall this season, coming off of a 67-58 loss at Georgia. The Gators have picked up several strong wins this season including two wins over ranked-foe Kentucky. The Gators have the third-best free throw percentage in the league this season, shooting 71.5 percent from the line led by Jaterra Bonds who is shooting 83.2-percent. Bonds also leads Florida, recording 15.4 points per game. The Gators' rebounding leader, Kayla Lewis ranks third in the league for her 8.8 rebounds per game as well.
LAST TIME OUT
The Tigers took home a 68-58 win over Auburn after one of the best starts to a game in conference play. Mizzou took a 42-14 lead into the locker room at the half. Freshmen Sierra Michaelis and Kayla McDowell earned the start in Sunday's game, replacing Jordan Frericks and Morgan Stock. The Tigers shot 48-percent from the field in the first half, holding Auburn to just 21.4-percent. Mizzou held Auburn to just 11.8-percent shooting from distance in the game as well, allowing just one three-pointer in each half.
The Tigers have been on top of things on the road this season, out-shooting opponents in every category: Mizzou shoots 40.6-percent from the floor to opponents' 37.9, 41.0-percent from distance to opponents' 33.0 and 79.5-percent from the charity stripe to opponents' 67.6-percent.
LSU (#16/14) was the seventh 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 increase this year with 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.
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 Tennessee, 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 59.2 points per game with an average scoring margin of +17 points. Mizzou averages 4.7 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 18.1 assists per victory, eight more than opponents.
Under fourth-year head coach Robin Pingeton, Mizzou is continuing to play great team basketball. That is evidenced by Mizzou's 16.0 assists per game (fourth in the SEC and 49th nationally).
In road games this season, the Tigers are sticking together. Mizzou assists on 68.1-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 12-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 3.7 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 34 blocks on the season, good for an average of 1.4 per game (seventh-best in the SEC).
Staying on the topic of blocks, Mizzou has 92 blocks as a team this season, almost 20 more than it had all of last year (75). In fact, Frericks' 34 blocks are the most by a Tiger since Christine Flores (who was drafted in the WNBA draft) who 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 29.1 per game and the Tigers are third in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 69.9-percent.
Speaking of rebounding, the Tigers are very good after the break this season, outrebounding opponents by 3.8 in the second half of games as the team averages 21.4 rebounds in the second half this season.
This season, Kulas is averaging 18.4 points per game, good for second in the league. Kulas also ranks in the league's top-ten in FG% (7th, .457), FT% (5th, .832), 3-point FG made (7th, 1.8), and defensive rebounds (9th, 5.0 per game) 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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