Welcome to Round 2 of the Battle of the Tigers where the Missouri Tigers head to Baton Rouge to face off against the No. 12 LSU Tigers on January 13 at 7 pm on SECN+.
After starting off the season unranked, LSU cracked the top-25 at No. 24 in week five poll and haven’t looked back.
Under hall of fame and legendary new head coach Kim Mulkey, LSU is 15-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Their sole SEC loss came at the hands of South Carolina, a 66-60 defeat at home.
For Missouri, they’re coming off a tough 83-73 loss on the road against Arkansas where they weren’t at full health. LaDazhia Williams went out with a groin injury and her status against LSU is unknown. Haley Troup was out in accordance with COVID protocols and Aijha Blackwell was still not at full strength.
But never fear, Mizzou fans. Troup is back and Missouri looks to secure another upset.
Here are the keys to Mizzou winning round 2.
- Most defense needs to point to Khayla Pointer.
Pointer is the dominant, veteran force on this LSU squad that’s kept defenses’ hands full. The fifth year senior has continued her 2021 all-SEC and all-defense prowess with her three-point shooting, tough rebounding, ability to see the floor and disrupt the passing lanes.
Pointer is LSU’s leading scorer with 18 points per game on 45.8% shooting, 6.82 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 28 total steals. She does not drive to the lane much. She’s lethal from three, shooting 40.3% from beyond-the-arc but isn’t afraid to drive to the basket when given the opportunity.
Even if Mizzou is able to disrupt Pointer, she has the ability to dish the ball out to her teammates who can make plays. Alexis Morris comes to mind. Morris is second on LSU with 14.13ppg. The Texas A&M transfer doesn’t shoot threes like Pointer, favoring the inside game. She will disrupt Mizzou’s passing lanes as she’s leading LSU with 32 points.
Missouri needs to keep their eyes peeled on Pointer and Morris at absolutely all costs.
2. Put the ball in a safe and lock it up.
LSU is another team that loves to force turnovers and takeaway the ball. As I pointed out before, two of their leaders in steals are Pointer and Morris. But practically every single player in Mulkey’s rotation can force takeaways.
LSU has forced 320 turnovers and stolen the ball 163 times. That is an alarming amount for opposing offenses to see, especially if you’re prone to turnovers like Mizzou can be.
If Mizzou was able to put protective gear, a padlock and invisible lasers on/around the ball, life would be so much easier. Unfortunately, that is not a realistic scenario so it’ll have to be done the old-fashioned way.
Protecting the ball and not committing careless turnovers will be a major part in determining if Mizzou can continue to contend with the best.
3. Mizzou has Aijha Blackwell and LSU doesn’t.
Hopefully, fingers crossed, Blackwell will be 100% once the ball goes up. If she’s not, she’ll still have a huge impact on the game.
Her ability to draw the double-team and the attention she brings coupled with her high basketball IQ will allow her to find wide-open teammates who can also make impact plays. I know I’m preaching to the choir here because we’ve all seen this happen throughout her time at The Zou.
The reason why I’m reemphasizing this is because Blackwell is actually here for a game against a SEC ranked opponent. She absolutely dominated in Mizzou’s first ranked game against Baylor and there’s no reason to suggest she won’t do that again against a SEC foe.
Also, Blackwell is not only the nation’s leading defensive rebounder (10.6 per game) but she’s now climbed all the way to the top in rebounds per game (12.9) and total rebounds (193).
Both Missouri and LSU will have their hands full which will lead to an epic round 2.
May the odds be ever in the Tigers’ favor.
Troup is back which means it’s to the regular starting lineup of Hansen, Dembele, Troup, Frank and Blackwell.
Mizzou wins the tip and turns the ball over.
Troup cuts to the basket and Dembele finds her for a layup. The game is tied at two.
After allowing LSU’s Faustine Aifuwa score six points, Coach Pingeton calls a time out. Mizzou trails 2-8.
Hansen drains a three right before the shot clock expires. Mizzou trails 5-8.
Frank drains a three at the top left of the key. Mizzou trails 8-13.
Frank drains another three and a foul is called on the push off, Dembele draws it. The play is currently being reviewed.
The play stands and is confirmed. Frank’s three counts and LSU draws a foul. Mizzou trails 11-17.
Higginbottom takes her chance at a three and banks it off the glass. Mizzou trails 14-17.
Dembele is fouled hard by Jailin Cherry and has a chance for two at the line. She splits her free throws. Mizzou trails 15-17.
Frank steps back for a long three and sinks it. Mizzou trails 18-21.
At the end of the first quarter, Mizzou trails LSU 18-24.
Blackwell drives and draws contact. She splits her free throws for his first point of the game. Mizzou trails 19-24.
Hansen ends Mizzou’s scoring drought with a long three. Mizzou trails 22-27.
Blackwell turns and fades away for a jumper and ends Mizzou’s scoring drought. Mizzou trails 24-35.
Blackwell catch and shoots a jumper from the right elbow. Mizzou trails 26-35.
Blackwell dribbles right and backs up to drain a three. Mizzou trails 29-38.
Blackwell is fouled on the drive and has a chance for two. She drains both from the line and Mizzou trails 31-42.
Troup dishes to Blackwell down low and she beats the halftime buzzer.
At the half, Mizzou trails LSU 33-44.
Troup gets the ball rolling in the third quarter with a wide open layup. Mizzou trails 35-44.
Hansen is left wide open from deep and hits it. Mizzou trails 38-46.
Blackwell is fouled and Aifuwa is hit with a technical. She misses first but drains the second one. Frank splits the technical free throws. Tigers trail 40-50.
Frank hits another long three and cuts the lead to single digits. Mizzou trails 43-50.
High low action on the baseline from Troup to Blackwell for a layup. Mizzou trails 45-50.
Loose ball finds its way to Franks hands. She tosses it to Blackwell who hits a wide open layup. Mizzou trails 47-50.
Hansen thinks about it and drains a three from the top of the key to cut the Baylor lead to two. Mizzou trails 50-52.
Blackwell spins and fades away for a circus shot and it’s once again a two point game. Mizzou trails 52-54.
Hansen drains her fifth three of the game from the left corner. Mizzou trails 55-59.
Hansen hits her first two pointer of the game. Mizzou trails 57-61.
At the end of the third quarter, Mizzou trails LSU 57-61.
After review before the fourth quarter started, a LSU two pointer was converted to a three. Mizzou trails LSU 57-62.
Frank hits another three pointer, her fifth of the night. Mizzou trails 60-64.
Hansen steals the ball, misses the layup but Frank drains a wide open corner three. Mizzou trails 63-66.
Hansen hits her sixth three of the night. Mizzou trails 66-70.
Blackwell drives left and scoops right. Mizzou trails 68-73.
Troup drives, hits the layup and is fouled. She screams and-one. Mizzou trails 70-73. Free throw will come after the media timeout. She misses the free throw.
Hansen hits her seventh three pointer and ties the game at 73.
Troup drives left and lays it in with an and-one opportunity. She converts the free throw and Mizzou leads LSU 76-75.
Troup gives Mizzou the lead again with a layup. Mizzou leads 78-77.
Blackwell draws a foul on Gusters and Mizzou is in the bonus. Blackwell splits the free throws but ties the game at 79.
Hansen missed the game winning layup and we’re heading to overtime!
Blackwell lays in Mizzou’s first points of OT. Mizzou trails 81-83.
Blackwell gets two offensive rebounds and then drives left and scoops right handed and drains it. She has a chance at one from the stripe. Game is tied at 83.
Blackwell has fouled out with 31 seconds left in OT.
Troup is fouled hard by Cherry on the layup attempt off the inbound pass by Dembele. She drains both free throws and it’s tied at 85. Timeout LSU.
Final: LSU defeats Mizzou 87-85 in overtime.