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Missouri heads to Waco for a major road test/GAME THREAD

It’s Big 12/SEC challenge time down in Texas.

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers are having an amazing start to the season. They are 8-0, brought home some hardware and have faced solid competition.

But it’s Big 12/SEC Challenge time and the Tigers drew a tough competitor this evening (7pm CT, ESPNU) in the no. 5 Baylor Lady Bears. Baylor Women’s Basketball has one of the most storied programs in college basketball. They’ve won a multitude of Big 12 and national championships and continue to blow the NCAA away.

Under new head coach Nicki Collen (formerly the head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream), the Lady Bears are 7-1 on the season with their sole loss to then no. 3 Maryland. But don’t let that stop you from thinking there isn’t a chance. Mizzou came close to defeating five ranked teams last season, with the scoring deficit being single digits. Don’t let Baylor’s dominance stop you from believing Mizzou has a chance.

Here are some major keys to defeating Baylor.

  1. Shut down Nalyssa Smith at all costs.
  • Smith is one of the absolute best players in the country, and has a legitimate case to be the no. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft. She is an absolute beast everywhere on the floor: she can drive to the basket with ease, crash the boards and can block shots. She’s averaging 19.3 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. But all great players have to have some weaknesses, and despite the majority of her points being in the paint, she struggles at the foul line, shooting only 79%. Smith also doesn’t have the versatility to shoot threes, which is not much of an issue due to the teammates she’s surrounded by, but nearly all of her points come from the paint. She’s also leading Baylor in total turnovers with 27.
  • Mizzou absolutely needs to ensure Smith is uncomfortable for all 40 minutes. Playing tight defense down low, driving to the lane and forcing her to foul and forcing her to pass the ball will be key to slowing her and the rest of the Lady Bears down.

2. Defense has improved by leaps and bounds. It’s time to bring their A-game.

  • As I said before, Baylor is full of top notch talent. The Lady Bears have another great post player in Queen Egbo that will take over the inside if Smith is struggling. She has only shot one three all season so it is clear her strength is crashing the boards and producing down low. She is averaging 10.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
  • On the perimeter, the Lady Bears have two sharpshooters who will cause damage from beyond the arc. Jordan Lewis and Sarah Andrews are the top three point shooters on the Bears, shooting 34.3% and 42.9%, respectively. The Tigers do have a strong perimeter defense, headlined by Mama Dembele. But everyone is going to need to step up a hundred notches in order to shut down Lewis and Andrews.

3. Protect the ball at all costs!

  • Obviously, turnovers are still a lingering issue for Mizzou. If they want to have an even better chance at defeating the Lady Bears, the ball has to be secured every single possession. Baylor has forced 112 turnovers, while Mizzou has turned the ball over 114 times. It is pretty even but remember, Baylor is ferocious. They must protect the ball.

The Details

Opponent: Baylor Bears (7-1)

Time: 7:00 p.m. CT

Where: Ferrell Center, Waco Texas

Is Mizzou Receiving Top 25 Votes? No. Not... yet.

Where To Watch: ESPNU | WatchESPN

Radio: Tiger Radio Network // KTGR 105.1 or 100.5 FM or 1580 AM

Twitter: @MizzouWBB

Facebook: Mizzou Women’s Basketball

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Starting lineups the same: Hansen, Dembele, Troup, Blackwell, Frank.

First quarter:

  • Blackwell with great defense on Nalyssa Smith.
  • Frank draws a charge like she does.
  • After allowing Baylor to go on a 7-0 run, Mizzou calls time out.
  • Blackwell drains a long three for Mizzou’s first points of the game.
  • Higginbottom enters the game for Mizzou at the 4:44 mark.
  • Blackwell drives to the basket and with an and-one opportunity.
  • Williams and Smith enter the game replacing Frank and Hansen.
  • Blackwell steps back and drains a midrange jumper. Mizzou trails Baylor 7-12.
  • Higginbottom joins the charge party.
  • Hansen drives to the bucket and converts the layup. Mizzou trains 9-12.
  • Just like that, Frank drains a corner three and it’s all tied up at 12.
  • At the end of the first, Baylor leads Mizzou 13-12.
  • Takeaways: Poor shooting and a lot of turnovers lead to an unusual offense start. But they are playing solid defense, only allowing Baylor 13 points.

Second quarter:

  • Blackwell spins and gets Mizzou’s first points of the quarter. They train Baylor 14-16.
  • Troup drives and pump fakes for a layup over Nalyssa Smith.
  • Williams baby hooks over Smith and it is now tied at 18.
  • Blackwell drains a free throw line jumper and it is once again tied at 20.
  • After a 5-0 Baylor run, Mizzou calls a time out. They train 20-25.
  • Troup puts the moves on and sinks a floater over two defenders.
  • Higginbottom drains a wide open corner three and it is now 30-25 Baylor.
  • Travis is now in the game for Blackwell. (Also Travis is wearing the correct no. 25 jersey tonight.)
  • Troup again putting on the moves and drains a layup.
  • At the half, Baylor leads Mizzou 36-27.
  • Takeaways: Mizzou didn’t show as strong as a defensive effort as they did in the first quarter. Troup has been making some key plays to help on the offensive end. Turnovers and fouls will need to be heavily limited in the second half.

Third quarter:

  • After a Baylor miss, Blackwell now has a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • At the shot clock buzzer, Blackwell drains a layup off an assist from Troup.
  • Dembele in severe foul trouble after committing her fourth.
  • Frank misses a layup but gets the put back. Mizzou trails 33-41.
  • Blackwell steals the ball from Smith and goes coast-to-coast, drawing a blocking foul with an and-one opportunity. She converts the and-one. Mizzou trails 36-41.
  • Troup with a spin and pass to Williams for the layup.
  • Higginbottom drives and draws the foul for an and-one opportunity. She converts it and the bench is going bananas. Mizzou trails 41-44.
  • Hansen crosses up Andrews and drives in for the layup for the and-one opportunity. Free throws will be shot after the timeout. Mizzou trails 43-48.
  • After a hard fought battle on the boards, Mizzou gets the offensive rebound and Frank drains a three. Mizzou trails 48-52.
  • Blackwell scoops a lefty layup in. Mizzou trails 50-54.
  • Troup drains two free throws after drawing a foul. Dorroh enters the game. Mizzou trails 52-56.
  • At the end of the third, Mizzou trails Baylor 52-56.
  • Takeaways: Mizzou is not giving up at all. Their offense is in a flow. Defense isn’t doing too bad. Fouls are their achilles heel.

Fourth quarter:

  • Troup starts off the fourth by draining a three. It is now a one point ball game.
  • Troup dribbles, steps back and drains a two. It is tied at 57.
  • Troup is left wide open and Mizzou takes a 60-57 lead. Time out Baylor.
  • Time out on the floor. Baylor goes on a 7-0 run and retakes the lead. Mizzou trails 64-60.
  • After a called shot clock violation on Mizzou, it is overturned. Tigers have possession.
  • Blackwell has fouled out of the game after being called for the charge. Mizzou trails 60-66.
  • Hansen drains a wide open three. Mizzou trails 63-69.
  • Frank gets the offensive rebound and dishes it to Williams for the floater. Mizzou trails 65-69.
  • Hansen steps back and drains a three. Time out Mizzou. They trail Baylor 68-69.
  • Dembele has now fouled out of the game. Baylor to the line to shoot two. Same score.
  • Final: Baylor defeats Mizzou 70-68.
  • Takeaways: Mizzou fought so hard. The refs called ridiculous fouls. Embarrassing win for Baylor.