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Missouri’s Efficient Shooting Leads to Win Over Alabama

Mission accomplished for Mizzou.

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

Missouri (16-6, 5-4 SEC) put their woes against Mississippi State behind them as they defeated Alabama (11-9, 2-7 SEC) in Tuscaloosa, 77-61.

The game started off as a grudge match between the two teams with a three-point barrage. Mizzou shot 80% from three while Alabama shot 57.1%, which resulted in Mizzou being up 24-16 after the first quarter. Y’all, I’m not sure what I was expecting in that first quarter shooting-wise, but both teams going back and forth on threes was not on my bingo card.

The second quarter was vastly different; both teams combined for one total three pointer, which came from the Tigers. The inside game and free throws were the key in the second quarter, and Mizzou drained 87.5% of its shots. Mizzou entered halftime with a comfortable 42-29 lead.

Mizzou came out of halftime with a mission. Not allowing third quarter woes to haunt them, they outscored the Tide, 19-15. They also got their three point stride back and outshot Alabama 61.5% to 46.2% in the third quarter. It seemed like nothing was going to stop them from cruising to a victory. While the fourth quarter wasn’t Mizzou’s best scoring display — they were outscored 16-17 — they did outshoot Alabama, 50% to 33% (The Tide’s main scoring came from the free throw line and not the field.)

In the end, Mizzou got the win and headed back to CoMo with momentum. For a more detailed description of the action, head over to the live game thread.

With that, here are the takeaways from last night’s dub.

1. There ain’t no party like a balanced shooting party

Y’all know I love to make song references when it comes to basketball. For those of you that don’t get the reference, here’s the link to “S Club Party” by S Club 7.

Mizzou put on a show with the three pointers, which helped lead to their most consistent shooting night of the season. On the night, they shot 59.6% from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc without a key shooter draining any.

Yes, Hayley Frank did not make any three pointers last night. She was 0-3 but had great looks. Instead, the rest of the starters each had one.

Aijha Blackwell doesn’t take many threes, but when she’s on fire, she takes (and makes) them. Last night, she made 3-4 of her threes. She also secured a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th straight double-double, and 17th of the season.

Lauren Hansen was everywhere on the court. She made three threes but expanded her game to the midrange and the paint. She was 7-13 from the field, including a great transition basket off a steal. Overall, she finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.

Mama Dembele contributed a three of her own for her only points of the game. She was left wide-open after a double team and the defender was just a smidge too late. Right when the ball left her hand, it was going in. She also had six assists.

Y’all know I’m a sucker for whenever a player either plays against their former team or returns to their home state for a game. Haley Troup was that person. She had an efficient 67% shooting night, which amounted for eight points. But her presence everywhere else to help out with the teams’ scoring was the most crucial part. She finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

2. The turnovers were in Mizzou’s favor

Coach Pingeton always says she wants to limit turnovers to less than 15. She preaches ball security and communication. Whenever the turnover battle is lost, Mizzou struggles to win, which is pretty much an obvious assessment for them and other teams.

Last night, Coach P’s philosophy was in full effect. Not only did Mizzou commit just 11 turnovers, but they forced Alabama to turn it over 11 times. So while they didn’t win the turnover battle per se, they didn’t let Alabama capitalize on their turnovers and that’s a big win.

3. Every single available player touched the court

Though Mizzou was missing Izzy Higginbottom (out with a non-Covid illness), Mizzou was pretty much at full strength last night. Not having Izzy available is unfortunate, obviously, but Mizzou performed so well that it turned out okay.

Coach P went deep into her bench in the fourth quarter and every player got minutes. Even if it wasn’t a lot of minutes, Micah Linthacum, Sarah Linthacum and Skylah Travis still proved to be valuable in the win.

Jayla Kelly only played five minutes, but what she did on the court was extremely valuable. She posted 4 points and a block, showing glimpses of her athleticism, and the bench went absolutely bonkers both times she scored. On her second layup, in particular, she put the post moves on and scored a wacky shot, showing the strides she’s taken.

Whenever the deeper part of the bench gets involved, it’s always a special moment.

4. LaDazhia Williams

I know I usually do just three takeaways but Williams deserves one of her own. Aside from being my personal player of the game, she absolutely balled out and showed why she is a valuable asset to this Mizzou team.

Every shot she put up turned to gold. Every time she touched the ball and threw it up, there was no reason for Alabama to attempt to box out. When I say that, I mean it. She was a perfect 7-7 from the floor and 4-4 from the charity stripe, which resulted in 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. I’m not saying Mizzou wouldn’t have won without her, but I am saying she was a huge reason for it.

Next up, Mizzou return to CoMo to take on Ole Miss Thursday at 6 pm on SECN.