After the Missouri Tigers (15-5, 4-3 SEC) fought their way to a 78-69 against Texas A&M, they found themselves on a high. Hayley Frank had recorded career highs in three points made, Aijha Blackwell got herself another double-double, Kiya Dorroh joined the three-point club and all but one of Mizzou’s starters hit double-digits in scoring. The Tigers shared the ball well, accumulating 15 total assists and picked the Aggies’ pockets eight times, which helped them force 14 turnovers.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, is performing completely opposite of Mizzou. Despite their 11-7 overall record, they’re just 2-4 in SEC play. The Bulldogs are on a three game losing streak, and that’s not the extent of their problems.
The Bulldogs lost three players to the transfer portal in 2021. The latest to enter the transfer portal is the worst hit of all. Leading scorer Rickea Jackson announced her entrance into the transfer portal on January 24. She was averaging 20.3ppg was also second in rebounding (6.8rpg).
Mississippi State is in shambles and Missouri hopes to capitalize in Starkville tonight. You can watch it unfold at 5:30 pm on SEC Network.
Here are the keys to the game.
1. Prepare for post changes.
Without Mississippi States’ main post presence in Rickea Jackson, Coach Doug Novak has some shuffling to do.
6’4 forward Raven Farley seems like the most obvious person to step up, but she’s been out with an injury the past few weeks and may be a bit rusty. If she’s ready to play, State will definitely need her. Prior to the injury, she played in 14 games, starting 8.
Raven Farley returned to practice yesterday for Mississippi State women’s basketball, per source. She’s missed several weeks, but if she can return to games soon, her size will be important, especially after Rickea Jackson’s departure— Andy Kostka (@afkostka) January 26, 2022
Regardless of Farley’s status come tip off, Mizzou must prepare for every single post player on the roster. The Bulldogs will probably opt to play small ball, but that won’t take away from the amount of shots they’ll likely attempt in the paint.
LaDazhia Williams must continue to assert her post presence on defense and stay away from foul trouble. Mizzou has the advantage in the post and preparing for everyone will make way for an easy inside game.
2. Grab all the rebounds.
With Mississippi State presumably going small ball and being undersized, there is ultimately no reason that Mizzou can’t dominate the boards. Lest you forget, the Tigers still have the rebounding queen, Aijha Blackwell, to assist in getting all the boards.
Of course, Blackwell can’t do it all. Frank was also excellent on the boards against A&M, and Williams has improved a ton this season in that area. With the probable size differential, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank and Williams join Aijha in becoming the queens of rebounding.
3. Even though the three ball is the Bulldogs’ weakness, perimeter defense is a must
Back at takeaway one, I noted that despite post changes for Mississippi State on the horizon, Mizzou still has to stand their ground down low. They can’t waver on perimeter defense. If Mizzou is able to shut down Mississippi State in the post, they’ll opt to swing the ball out to a perimeter shooter.
The Bulldogs are currently last in the SEC in three-point shooting percentage, only converting 26.6% of their attempts. Regardless, dominating in the defensive post will force Mississippi State to shoot their weakest shot. I wouldn’t count them out on converting threes whenever they get the chance.
Every single time I say that Mizzou’s opponent is weak at three point shooting, they always seem to launch and makes threes at an astounding rate. Basically, it’s like they gain super powers and become three-point shooting machines just because I mention it. Regardless, the post and midrange is the Bulldogs’ strong suit, so the Tigers will have to clamp down on perimeter shooters to ensure the superpowers don’t emerge.
Starling lineup: No Blackwell in the starting lineup. Williams, Hansen, Dembele, Troup and Frank.
Mizzou wins the tip and Hansen gets a wide-open high love feed from LaDazhia Williams. 2-0 Mizzou.
Dembele gets a steal after Williams split her free throws. She had a few hops and looks like something with her knee after a foul was called. She’s shaking her hand right now but is staying in the game.
Troup steps back for a three and missing but Williams is right there for the put-back. Tigers lead 7-5.
Blackwell has checked in for Mizzou and immediately gets a block.
Blackwell cleans up Williams miss to get on the board. Tigers trail 9-13.
Blackwell knocks down a layup off a Frank feed. Tigers trail 11-18.
Back-to-back threes for Mizzou as Dorroh and Blackwell hit. Tigers trail 17-21.
At the end of the first quarter, Mizzou trails Mississippi State 19-24.
Blackwell fakes a pass and drives left for a layup. Mizzou trails 21-26.
Dembele hits a wide open three after a defensive rebound by Blackwell. Tigers trail 24-29.
Troup finds Blackwell at the left block and escapes from the double-team down the baseline for a layup. She has 10. Tigers trail 26-31.
Troup hits a three off a back screen from Frank. Mizzou trails 29-33.
Troup drives to the basket and converts the basket for the and-one opportunity. She drains the free throw cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to four. Tigers trail 32-36.
High low action from Blackwell to Frank for a turnaround jumper for her first point of the game. Tigers trail 34-39.
Williams fakes, drives and hits a jumper off the glass. Tigers trail 36-41.
Halftime: Mizzou trails Mississippi State 36-46.
Williams spins and hits the layup off an assist by Troup to start the second half. Tigers trail 38-46.
Mizzou forces a MSST shot clock violation.
Troup snaps MSST’s 10-0 run and hits a jumper off the inbound. She has 10. Mizzou trails 40-57.
Sara-Rose Smith hits a reverse layup off the baseline cut. Mizzou trails 42-59.
Mizzou forces a second MSST shot clock violation.
Frank blocks Carter down low. Blackwell is fouled on the post up and will go to the line to shoot two. She drains both. Mizzou trails 44-59.
Smith cleans up Dembele’s three point miss and gets the putback. Tigers trail 46-59.
At the end of the third quarter, Mizzou trails MSST 46-63.
Mizzou gets on the board first in the fourth quarter with a wide-open corner three from Troup. Tigers trail 49-63.
Frank knocks down the three and Mizzou trails 52-63.
Aijha Blackwell has another double-double.
Troup passes Frank inside on the post up and gets the easy layup forcing a MSST timeout. Tigers trail 54-63.
Blackwell gets the offensive rebound after a Smith three point miss and has a chance for a three point play. She misses the free throw. Mizzou trails 56-68.
Blackwell misses her layup but grabs the offensive board and cleans it up. Tigers trail 58-68.
Frank is fouled on the layup. She makes both of her free throws. Mizzou trails 60-73.
Dorroh with high-low action to Frank for a layup. Mizzou trails 62-77.
Final: Mississippi State defeats Mizzou 62-77.