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Missouri Returns Home To Face Off Against The Struggling Texas A&M Aggies/LIVE GAME THREAD

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One team is dominating at home while the other team is struggling away.

Mizzou Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics

The Missouri Tigers (14-5, 3-3 SEC) return home after their win against the Vanderbilt Commodores to face the Texas A&M Aggies (11-7, 1-5 SEC) today at 5 pm on SECN.

The Aggies come to Mizzou Arena after getting crushed by Ole Miss 63-80 in College Station, while the Tigers went to Nashville and took care of business against the Commodores, beating them 66-52.

Texas A&M is led by four shooters currently averaging in double-digits. Starters Kayla Well and Jordan Nixon lead the way with 16.4 and 11.9 points per game, respectively. Reserves/alternate starters Destiny Pitts and Qadashah Hoppie are neck-and-neck with 10.6 and 10.4 points, respectively.

The Aggies struggle to put up and drain threes which was well represented in their loss to Ole Miss. They hit 31.2% of their shots, but only drained 5-16. They like to drive to the paint and take the midrange jumpers over shooting from beyond the arc.

If Missouri wants to defeat Texas A&M and extend their win streak to two, they’ll have to play aggressively and force the Aggies to take those uncomfortable threes.

Here are the keys to the game.

1. Clog the driving lanes and limit access to the paint.

Similar to Vanderbilt, Texas A&M likes to cause chaos inside and from midrange more than take three pointers. If you’re a WNBA team, they’re like the Las Vegas Aces.

A big reason why the Tigers were so successful against Vanderbilt on defense for a good amount of the game was because of LaDazhia Williams’ presence on the court. Even though she only played in limited minutes (and fouled out at the very end), Williams was able to disrupt Vandy’s offensive post presence.

Wells is the Aggies’ leader in two point percentage with a little under 44% of her shots going in (minimum 100 shot attempts). Despite being 6’0, she has the big guard mentality and ability to muscle through defenses. She’s extremely similar to Mizzou’s Aijha Blackwell.

6’3 forward Aaliyah Patty and 6’3 center Sydnee Roby get the most significant bench play for the Aggies in terms of post players. Roby is highly effective down low, converting 58.4% of her shots while Patty has converted 38.2% of them.

Regardless of height, A&M will drive like there’s no tomorrow. It’s up to Williams and the rest of Mizzou’s post defense to step it up a few notches and force them to shoot threes.

2. Get Blackwell going ASAP.

Missouri has the leader in rebounds, rebounds per game, defensive rebounds per game and tied for first in double-doubles in the NCAA . I’m sure y’all have heard her name before.

Aijha Blackwell has been grabbing rebounds early and often but her scoring these past two games haven’t started off the way it should.

She has struggled to get her offense flowing which dampers Mizzou a ton. Blackwell is the Tigers’ primary scorer, especially down low. When her shot isn’t flowing or she’s not getting any good looks, the offense tends to suffer a tad. Of course Hansen and Frank pick up the slack, but they’re mostly from beyond the arc.

Once Blackwell heats up, the offense flows more efficiently. Accompanied by Hansen and Frank, Mizzou will overwhelm the Aggies’ defense early.

3. Continue third quarter dominance.

Seeing Mizzou be so successful throughout the third quarter this season has been great. In my recap from the previous game, I pointed out how their huge third quarter elevated them to defeating Vandy.

If this game does end up like the first half of the Vandy game, Mizzou will need a third quarter explosion from every player on the court.

Even if Mizzou gets hot and dominates the first half, the third quarters have been kryptonite. Good teams can overcome these woes; great teams can overcome the woes and finish out the game strong.

Mizzou is a great team and has all the ability in the world to overcome any in-game adversity.

Also, Red Panda will be performing at halftime so no reason for Mizzou to stumble in the third quarter, right?

First quarter:

Starting lineup: Typical starters this evening. Hansen, Dembele, Troup, Blackwell and Frank.

Mizzou wins the tip and Hansen immediately drains a three 10 seconds in. Mizzou up 3-0.

Frank follows up with a three of her own on the left wing. Mizzou up 6-2. She immediately draws a charge on the other end.

Troup drives and muscles her way through for a layup. Tigers up 8-2.

Dembele drives and dishes to a wide-open Blackwell who swishes a three. Mizzou is 3-3 from three so far. Tigers up 11-4.

Dorroh joins the three point party with a wide-open corner three. Mizzou leads 14-7.

Williams gets a huge block and Blackwell muscles her way on the offensive boards for a layup. Mizzou leads 16-14.

At the end of the first quarter, Mizzou trails A&M 16-19.

Second quarter:

Blackwell gets a monstrous save but Mizzou can’t capitalize. They trail 16-25.

Frank is fouled on the drive. She ends A&M’s long run and Mizzou’s scoring drought. The Tigers now have two points in the quarter after her made free throws.

Frank draws a charge on the other side. Tigers trail 18-27.

Blackwell has 11 rebounds at the 3:02 mark in the second quarter.

Frank buries a long three pointer and cuts the Aggies’ lead to six. Mizzou trails 21-27.

Hansen drives right and scores. Tigers trail 23-27.

Williams joins the party and hits a post up layup. Tigers trail 25-27 and force an Aggie timeout. They’re on a 9-0 run in the last 2:03.

Just like that, Mizzou takes the 28-27 lead courtesy of a Frank three. They’re on a 12-0 run.

Blackwell drives and is fouled with 26.8 seconds left. She splits her free throws but gives Mizzou the 29-28 lead.

Halftime: Mizzou trails A&M 29-31 after Pitts hits a buzzer beating three.

Third quarter:

After A&M gets a two, Troup hits a three off a screen pass from Frank. Mizzou trails 32-33.

Troup drives and gets a layup. Tigers lead 34-33.

Frank is fouled on the three point attempt. She hits 2 of three and Mizzou leads 36-35.

Troup drives baseline and swings it to Hansen for a corner three. Mizzou leads 39-38.

Frank hits another three from deep and gives Mizzou the 42-40 lead.

Frank makes her first two pointer of the game on a driving layup in traffic. She is fouled and gets the and-one opportunity. She makes the free throw and Mizzou leads 45-43.

Dembele walks into her shot and launches a three. Mizzou retakes the lead, 48-46.

Mizzou retakes the lead with a Frank three. Her fifth of the evening. Tigers lead 51-48.

Blackwell spins and hits a fadeaway jumper. Tigers lead 53-50.

Dembele shakes and bakes, driving left for a layup at the shot clock buzzer. Tigers lead 55-53.

Blackwell gets a steal and a huge buzzer beating layup to end the third quarter. She has her 15th double-double of the season and ninth straight.

Mizzou leads A&M 57-53 heading into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter:

Williams is fouled on the putback and gets two chances at the line. She hits both and Mizzou leads 59-53.

Frank hits another three, her sixth of the night, tying her career high. Hansen drains a three seconds later after a Dembele steal. Tigers lead 65-60 and force an Aggie timeout.

Troup hits a three pointer and Mizzou extends the lead to eight. 68-60 Tigers.

Frank draws another charge on Patty and she’s fouled out with 4:20 left in the fourth.

Frank drains her career high seventh three on the left corner. Mizzou leads 71-62.

Hansen hits a three on the right corner. Mizzou leads 74-64.

A personal foul on Jones after fouling Troup on the drive. A double tech is called on Blackwell and Jones after she stepped over Troup. Troup splits her free throws and Mizzou leads 75-64.

Dembele is fouled on the drive and will shoot free throws as Mizzou is in the bonus. She splits them and Mizzou leads 76-64.

Dembele is fouled with 17.9 seconds left. She drains both of them and Mizzou leads 78-66.

Final: Mizzou defeats A&M 78-69.

Frank hits a career high 7 three pointers and records 28 points and 8 rebounds.

Blackwell gets 15th double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds.