SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament:
Setting the Scene:
#24th ranked Missouri (21-9, 11-5) finished SEC play defeating Alabama 65-56 on Sunday. They enter tonight’s game on a five game winning streak and having won 10 of their last 12.
Texas A&M (20-10) used an explosive second half to defeat the Florida Gators 67-48 on Thursday night. A&M’s 6’4 post Khaalia Hillsman scored 14 of her 24 points in the third quarter on her way to a double double. Hillsman was complemented by six three pointers from teammates and the Aggies scored 24 plus points in both the third and fourth quarters.
Earlier this year the Tigers beat then #24th ranked Aggies 78-76 in overtime thanks in large part to SEC All-American Sophie “Freaking” Cunningham’s 36 points and Clutchitude™. In that game, A&M’s Hillsman was the second leading scorer with 19, behind senior guard Curtyce Knox’s 25 points. Knox had nine points and nine assists in last night’s win over Florida.
A somewhat humorous sidenote: It was Texas A&M’s head coach Gary Blair who lectured scribes in his post-game press conference that Missouri — the “the cradle of journalism” — did not have a front page story about the the women’s team in the morning print:
Texas A&M women's basketball coach Gary Blair had some choice words for the local print writers after tonight's game. pic.twitter.com/XwTmLO567H— Andrew Kauffman (@A_Kauff) January 20, 2017
SEC: Sophie Entertainment Channel
The women’s team arrived in South Carolina a few days ago and that gave the SEC Network a chance to talk to Sophie Cunningham. Apparently she has several nicknames including “Sophie ‘Freaking’ Cunningham” and “Sweetness”. The latter nickname is used like when giant people are called “Tiny”.
Check out the SEC Network analysts preview tonight’s contest in the video below. I especially enjoyed the part where Missouri is described as, “they are not the biggest, and they are not the fastest, but they will out-execute any other team in this conference...”
Might as well call ‘em gritty gym rats right?
Missouri comes in with the advantage of a double-bye while Texas A&M will be playing its second game since Wednesday so the Tigers should have a rest advantage. Missouri is getting hot at just the right time but this team is more than just a one-man show. Yes, Sophie is averaging 17.8 points per game but I have long been a big fan of senior guard Sierra Michaelis because of her tenacious drive and ability to score from inside and out.
I look for Michaelis as well as SEC Co-Freshman of the Year Amber Smith, a 5’11 guard who impressed me with her athleticism and savvy play, to perform well in supporting roles. If the Lindsey Cunningham finds her range, Cierra Porter matches up well with Hillsman, they limit their turnovers to the low teens and Sophie is Sophie I expect Mizzou to win its first SEC Tournament game.
In the bigger picture, I want to see a win tonight and then politely bow out of the weekend. These Tigers have fought and battled throughout the season after losing two post players in Jordan Frericks and Bri Porter to injury yet they secured a spot in the NCAA tournament - ESPN has them at a 5 seed right now. They’d probably have to win the whole SEC to move up a seed and that would require grinding out wins to Mississippi State and South Carolina; plus it’s unlikely the women will be able to host
due to local state basketball tournaments starting next week.
I think they should save that energy for the NCAA next week.
HOW TO WATCH:
WatchESPN/SEC NETWORK: ◄ Link
LISTEN via MUTigers.com/KTGR: ◄ Link
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