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After finals week, Missouri still has a *slight* chance to generate pre-SEC momentum

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Mizzou Winter Warmer, a weekly look at everything happening in Mizzou winter sports. Check back in every Monday to get a recap of the past week's events as well as a look forward at what's coming for each of Mizzou's programs.

Men’s basketball

Let’s just get it out of the way first, shall we? The men’s squad went 1-1 in two home games this week, winning handily against Miami of Ohio and losing badly against Arizona. This probably isn’t an unexpected outcome, but in no way is it encouraging either. Missouri continues to meet expectations - or slightly underwhelm depending on who you ask - which is not what fans want to see in the third year of Kim Anderson’s tenure. Couple that with the persistent stink of the North Carolina Central loss, and there’s still not much of a reason for optimism with this team.

What’s next: The Tigers could still build some momentum heading into their SEC schedule with a sweep of Eastern Illinois, Illinois (Braggin’ Rights!) and Lipscomb. That’ll require Missouri to beat Illinois though, and the Illini currently sit at 68 in KenPom, while Missouri has dipped to 154. As for this week, Missouri has one game against Eastern Illinois. That’ll be this upcoming Saturday, Dec. 17, at Mizzou Arena... just after students have gone home, I might add. Terrence Phillips has been very vocal on Twitter about wanting fans to show up, but it’s a safe bet to say many people won’t be showing up. So continues the vicious cycle.

Women’s basketball

Not all bad in Columbia! After a befuddling loss to IUPUI, Robin Pingeton’s fighting Tigers went 2-0 this week, dispatching SIUE and Wichita State to improve to 8-3 on the year. Surprise, surprise: Sophie Cunningham is leading the way, averaging 15 points, and about 5 rebounds/assists per contest, though her 3 point shooting hasn’t been exactly stellar (22%). Cierra Porter and Sierra Michaelis have also been steady contributors at 14 and 11.4 PPG, respectively. However, the next leading scorer is Lianna Doty at 6.2 PPG. If the Tigers want to take the next step, they’ll need more people to step up and score. Amber Smith and Lindsey Cunningham could be prime candidates.

What’s next: The Tigers stay in Columbia for their only game this week, taking on 3-7 UT Martin, a Saturday matchup at 11 AM that serves as the opener of a Mizzou basketball double-header. IUPUI should be a lesson in caution, but an 11-3 non-conference record looks likely if they can dispatch UC Riverside and Saint Louis University through the rest of December.

Wrestling

A mixed bag for the new popular sport in Columbia. #TigerStyle dropped its first match of the year, 30-9 to Ohio State - who is also very good - while taking care of conference opponent Ohio, 35-7 Sunday. The Tigers are still a force at No. 5 in the rankings. J’den Cox sits at No. 1 in the InterMat rankings for the 197 lb. class while Barlow McGhee, Jaydin Eierman, Matt Manley (great name btw), Lavion Mayes, Joey LaVallee, Daniel Lewis, and Willie Miklus are all Top 10 in their respective classes.

What’s next: A bit of a break lies ahead for #TigerStyle, who don’t hit the mats again until December 20. When they do, they’ll have two bouts, one with Kent State and the other with Appalachian State. Both will take place at the Hearnes Center.

Gymnastics

Men’s Swim & Dive

Women’s Swim & Dive

There’s not much to report on with these three programs yet. Gymnastics has yet to open their season, though the squad did host its annual Black & Gold meet Saturday. Read the recap on that event here.

Both Swim & Dive programs are ranked at this point: Men’s sits at No. 6 in the NCAA rankings with a 3-2 record on the year, their losses coming to No. 7 and 9 Georgia and Alabama. Women’s is currently at No. 12, with their only loss at the hands of No. 2 Georgia. Neither squad competes again until the new year.

Odds and Ends

Major congratulations are in order for Mizzou Volleyball, which ended its season Friday with a 3-1 loss to Final Four competitor Minnesota in the Sweet 16. While we all wish it would’ve lasted a little longer, the Tigers have plenty to hang their hats on. Coach Wayne Kreklow was named the AVCA Southeast Coach of the Year, while Melanie Crow, Carly Kan, Alyssa Munlyn and Kira Larson made the All-Southeast Region team.

On a personal note, I was able to make it out to a few volleyball matches in my time at Mizzou, and this program is one of the university’s most consistently entertaining and likable outfits. We can complain about football, basketball, etc., but the volleyball program is a consistent winner and everyone should be out supporting them next year. It’ll be weird rooting for a team without Carly Kan next season. Congratulations on another wonderful campaign for Kreklow and the team. And thanks to all the seniors - Kan, Alexa Ethridge, Emily Thater and Julia Towler. You’ve all helped make Mizzou Volleyball a program of which all True Sons and Daughters can be proud!