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Missouri vs. Texas: NCAA women's tournament preview

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Mizzou was one of only 4 lower seeds to win in the first round. Can they do it again against a potent Texas squad?

Missouri took down BYU with big games from its two best players, Sophie Cunningham and Jordan Frericks, a red-hot shooting effort from Morgan Stock, and surprise contributions from Kayla McDowell and Juanita Robinson off the bench.

Player FGM FGA FTM FTA ORB DRB PF TP A TO BLK STL MIN AdjGS GS/M
CUNNINGHAM, Sophie 7 10 6 7 0 5 4 20 2 4 0 3 34 22.6 0.66
STOCK, Morgan 4 5 3 4 1 1 1 14 1 0 0 0 15 18.7 1.25
FRERICKS, Jordan 8 13 3 5 0 9 3 19 2 5 0 1 30 16.1 0.54
McDOWELL, Kayla 2 4 4 4 2 5 1 8 3 0 0 0 29 15.3 0.53
ROBINSON, Juanita 2 5 5 6 0 0 3 11 1 2 0 0 21 7.8 0.37
PORTER, Bri 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.4 0.43
DOTY, Lianna 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 10 0.4 0.04
CUNNINGHAM, Lindsey 1 2 0 0 0 2 5 2 5 3 0 0 25 0.1 0.01
STOCK, Maddie 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.0 0.00
MICHAELIS, Sierra 0 1 2 2 0 0 2 2 0 2 0 1 6 -0.7 -0.12
PORTER, Cierra 1 4 0 0 1 0 3 2 0 1 0 0 10 -2.7 -0.27

Of concern for the Tigers as they head into tonight's game are Cierra Porter and Sierra Michaelis. Porter had perhaps her worst game of the year in only 10 minutes of play. It appears that her shoulder and knee injuries are still hampering her effectiveness, and as Texas starts a 6'-7" post with a 6'-5" backup, it would be very helpful if the Tigers' tallest player could make a real contribution.

Michaelis hasn't made the trifecta since she topped it at the Ole Miss game. While she's been ably replaced in the starting lineup by Morgan Stock for the most part, Mizzou could really use another three point sniper off the bench. Robinson filled that role admirably against BYU, but the Tigers will need to be clicking on all cylinders to take down the Longhorns.

Lindsey Cunningham also had a very pedestrian BYU game. Her five assists were offset by three turnovers and fouling out. Lianna Doty also did not have a memorable game in her ten minutes. Robinson ran the point for five minutes or so more effectively than she has previously this season. Against Texas' small, quick guards, Mizzou will need solid play at the point to have chance.

The team stats for both teams are remarkably even. For example, Mizzou shoots 43.7% from the field, while Texas shoots 43.8%. The Longhorns are nearly as turnover prone as the Tigers, averaging 16 TO per game versus 17 for Mizzou. Bing says Texas is a 2-1 favorite, while FiveThirtyEight gives Mizzou only a 10% chance of winning. The Sagarin ratings give Texas an 8 point margin, which grows to 11 when you toss in the home court advantage.

So Texas is clearly favored. What does Mizzou have to do to win tonight?

  1. Take advantage of the guard height differential. Mizzou's forwards have to pull Imani Boyette and Kelsey Lang away from the basket, allowing Sophie to post up whomever is guarding her without worry about weakside help from Texas' bigs.
  2. Play team defense. On the flip side, Mizzou cannot let Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty go all Lexi Rydalch on them. They are similarly quick and combined average about the same points per game as Rydalch.
  3. Avoid empty possessions. This would be a great time for the Tigers to stop turning the ball over.
  4. Shoot well. Obvious, I know, but the Tigers need to get good looks and make them, preferably both in the paint and from beyond the three point line, which will help with the first key above as well.