Where the SEC Network really shines is in the so-called Olympic sports. Robin Pingeton's charges will appear several times on the network this year, which is great. Even more valuable is SEC Network+, which streams games that we otherwise wouldn't see. Once we get into the SEC schedule, every game will be available one way or another with solid production values.
Non-conference home games get the same treatment. So, cozy up to your favorite Internet-connected device at 5:30 CT tonight and check out the brightest new development in the Mizzou winter sports scene, the undefeated women's hoops team. (Yes, wrestling is awesome, but they've been awesome. Nothing new there, y'all.)
Mizzou is led by McDonald's All-American freshman Sophie Cunningham, who is shooting lights-out:
Sophie Cunningham ranks 16th nationally in free throw percentage (90.2), converting 37 of her first 41 career attempts. She is also ranked 18th in the country in field goal percentage (60.3) as she is 70-for-116 from the floor. Although she does not quite meet the minimum of two made 3-pointers per game, with two more treys, Cunningham's 3-point percentage (51.2) would rank eighth in all of Division I. She ranks 45th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.31).
Not surprisingly, Sophie is the squad's trifecta points leader. What you may not realize is that the two-person freshman class (Hannah Schuchts is redshirting) has generated more trifecta points than any other class. Cierra Porter is doing wonderful things in the post and displays a sweet left-handed shooting stroke, especially from the line. Junior Jordan Frericks, a second team all-SEC selection last year, continues to impress as an undersized post player. Your other two starters are juniors as well, Lindsey Cunningham (Sophie's sister) and Sierra Michaelis.
We will take a deeper dive into the non-conference performance later in the week, but for now let's turn our focus to the visiting. The Charlotte game preview release includes this short clip of Coach Cara Consuegra discussing her team's 99-88 victory over Davidson and previewing the matchup with Missouri. Consuegra respects Mizzou's three point shooting and high-low game and is worried about rebounding. She seems pretty confident in her team's offensive ability, which seems reasonable as they almost hit the century mark the last time out.
Charlotte stands 7-3 on the season and is a top 100 team per Sagarin. Their best win is over #67 Ball State, with losses to Miami, NC State, and Elon. The 49ers have four players averaging double figures, led by Ciara Gregory with 16.4 ppg. Remember Sophie's impressive stats from above? Gregory is third in the nation in FT%, shooting 27-28 from the line. She's also in the top 10 for three pointers made per game.
One reason the 49ers may have four players in double figures is that they don't go very deep on their bench, with only eight players receiving significant playing time this season. Consuegra is impressed with Mizzou's depth, and that depth may ultimately be the 49ers downfall. While Charlotte can certainly stick around for awhile, especially if they are shooting well, I'd expect Mizzou's depth to be the deciding factor.