Missouri kicks off WNIT play at Creighton on Thursday.
March 18, 2014
Radio: KTGR 100.5 FM/101.3 FM
Live Scoring: creighton.statbroadcast.com
MU Head Coach: Robin Pingeton
(St. Ambrose `90) 60-64 at MU (4th season)
CU Head Coach: Jim Flanery
(Creighton, `87) 233-150 at CU (12th season)
MIZZOU MAKES SECOND CONSECUTIVE POSTSEASON APPEARANCE AT CREIGHTON
Mizzou will kick off the 2014 WNIT on Thursday with a first round matchup at Creighton. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Omaha, Neb. Missouri is 7-7 against the Bluejays in program history with the last meeting coming in the 2006-07 season when the Tigers hosted the Bluejays in the State Farm Tiger Classic, earning a 70-66 victory. Mizzou is 3-5 in WNIT play, and this marks the Tigers' sixth appearance overall. Missouri will look for its first road win in the WNIT on Thursday as all three victories have come in Columbia, Mo.
Should the Tigers top Creighton on Thursday, Mizzou will advance to the second round of the WNIT. The Tigers will face the winner of the first round matchup between Butler and South Dakota State.
The Bluejays are 19-13 on the season, coming off of a 68-63 loss to No. 2 St. Johns in the second round of the BIG EAST Tournament. The Jays are 12-2 at home this season and finished conference play with a 12-6 record. Three Bluejays are averaging more than 10 points this season including Marissa Janning, Sarah Nelson and McKenzie Fujan. Janning was named BIG EAST Player of the Year, and also earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors, while both Nelson and Fujan earned second team recognition. Janning is averaging 17.8 points per game while grabbing 5.1 rebounds. She has dished out a team-leading 124 assists this season as well.
LAST TIME OUT
Mizzou fell to Mississippi State in the first round of the SEC Tournament, 73-70. Senior Bri Kulas led the Tigers with 18 points and 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Three Tigers finished in double-figures on the night as Sierra Michaelis added 16 points and Morgan Eye had another 10 for the Tigers. Michaelis knocked down 4-of-5 treys on the night, helping the Tigers to a 47.8-percent shooting night from distance. The Tigers held Mississippi State to just over 28-percent shooting from the three-point line on the night. The Tigers' 48.7-percent 3FG percent was the second-best in the tournament to Texas A&M who shot 52.6-percent from three during their tournament run.
Missouri's win over Ole Miss marked the 17th of the season, matching last year's win total. The number marks the most wins for a Mizzou team since the 2006-07 season. A WNIT win would give the Tigers 18 total victories this year, the most since the 2005-06 season when the Tigers went 21-10.
Missouri's WNIT bid marks the second consecutive postseason appearance for the Tigers. Mizzou has not made back-to-back postseason appearances since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. This will be the first time Mizzou has seen back-to-back WNIT berths since 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Mizzou knocked down 11 three-pointers at the SEC Tournament, two more than any other teams. Alabama came in second with nine treys made. Not only that, but Sierra Michaelis' 80-percent shooting from three in SEC Tournament play led all players through the tournament.
Senior Bri Kulas and junior Morgan Eye have both reached the millennium mark in their DI playing careers, recording their 1,000th points at senior night against Ole Miss. Eye has joined the 1,000 point club at Mizzou in just three years, and Kulas needs just three points to join Mizzou's 1,000 point club. Mizzou had just five Tigers reach 1,000 points in their careers from 2007-2012.
Morgan Eye is third in the nation with her 107 three-pointers this season. This is her second consecutive season recording more than 100 treys. Last season, Eye finished with 112 treys to set the school and conference single-season records. She is just six threes away from breaking her own record this season.
Missouri's six conference wins this season match the Tigers' conference record from last year, which stands as the best record in conference play since 2005-06 when Mizzou went 10-6 in Big 12 play.
Should the Tigers tally 20 wins this season, it will be just the 13th season in program history that a Mizzou team has reached 20 wins. Prior to 2005-06, the last 20-win season came in the 2000-01 year.
Mizzou's three freshmen, Frericks, McDowell and Michaelis, are arguably one of Missouri's most productive classes as the three newcomers average 19.2 points per game on 45.4-percent shooting. The trio averages 13.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 16.9 minutes on the floor per game while committing just four turnovers each contest. Mizzou has not seen this type of production out of its freshmen since the 1996-97 season when Julie Helm, Amy Monsees and Ekpedeme Akpaffiong averaged 25.4 points per game on 43.6-percent shooting. The 96-97 trio averaged 9.4 rebounds per game while dishing 4.4 assists and averaging 6.5 turnovers a game. This season the Tigers have rejected 56 shots to the 96-97 year's 10.
No. 10 Tennessee was the eighth ranked opponent that the Tigers have faced this season. Last season Missouri faced six total ranked teams during conference play. 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 another ranked opponent this season, 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 60.9 points per game with an average scoring margin of +15.5 points. Mizzou averages 4.3 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 17.8 assists per victory, eight more than opponents. Also, five Tigers average seven points or more in Mizzou's victories.
Under fourth-year head coach Robin Pingeton, Mizzou is continuing to play great team basketball. That is evidenced by Mizzou's 15.6 assists per game (fourth in the SEC and 48th nationally).
The Tigers have been on top of things on the road this season, out-shooting opponents in every category: Mizzou shoots 40.8-percent from the floor to opponents' 39.0, 41.8-percent from distance to opponents' 31.7 and 78.9-percent from the charity stripe to opponents' 69.3-percent.
In road games this season, the Tigers are sticking together. Mizzou assists on 67.7-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 64.7-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 64.4-percent this season, on pace with last season 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 3.4 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 37 blocks on the season, good for an average of 1.2 per game (11th-best in the SEC).
Staying on the topic of blocks, Mizzou has 101 blocks as a team this season, 26 more than it had all of last year (75). In fact, Frericks' 37 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: third in defensive rebounding at 28.3 per game and the Tigers are third in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 70.2-percent.
This season, Kulas is averaging 18.6 points per game, good for second in the league. Kulas also ranks in the league's top-ten in FG% (8th, .441), FT% (2nd, .837), 3-point FG made (6th, 1.8 per game), and defensive rebounds (8th, 5.1 per game) as she has put together an All-SEC 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 and more rebounds than Simmons this season.
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