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First ‘Battle of the Tigers’ Commences as Missouri Welcomes Auburn / LIVE GAME THREAD

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Who doesn’t love a Tiger vs. Tiger battle?

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

After defeating no. 1 South Carolina, the Missouri Tigers were slated to head to Nashville to face Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, the game was postponed due to COVID issues within Mizzou’s program.

But don’t worry, Tiger fans, Mizzou is back in action and will face the Auburn Tigers on tonight at 7 pm on SECN+.

After finishing 5-19 a year ago with no conference wins, yhe new look Auburn Tigers are opening eyes and showing the SEC that they’re ready for battle.

Under new head coach Johnnie Harris, Auburn comes into the matchup 8-4, with their most notable win on November 21 when they defeated no. 18 Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Also to note, Auburn’s success has come without the services of 2020-2021 SEC All- Freshman player, Romi Levy.

Thankfully, Missouri won’t be as shorthanded as they were against South Carolina. In Coach Pingeton’s media availability on January 5, she said that they’ll have more players available, but did not specify who. One would think that because of the timeline, Higginbottom and Blackwell, who were unavailable for the SC game, would be ready to go this time around.

Regardless of who is available Mizzou has a battle ahead of them. Here are the keys to handing Auburn their second SEC loss.

1. Slow down Aicha Coulibaly

Just like Blackwell, Coulibaly is a 6’0 guard who plays well beyond her height. After only averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in a primary reserve role last season, Aicha has emerged as Auburn’s primary scorer and rebounder. She’s currently averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

She is not a three-point shooter, however, only hitting 4/17 or 23.5% of her attempts. Coulibaly mostly does her damage on the inside and from midrange shots, shooting 49.1% from the field.

If Blackwell is playing, then she’ll probably be the primary defensive matchup to Coulibaly. If Aijha isn’t playing, it’ll take a village to stop her. Forcing Coulibaly to make passes, attempt uncomfortable shots, and boxing her out will be key to slowing down Auburn’s scoring flow.

2. Lauren Hansen must go off

Okay, she doesn’t actually have to go off. This is more of my wish for this game. Last season against her former team, she recorded nine points and two rebounds in 16 minutes.

With her new role in the starting lineup and how well she’s been playing as of late, I would hope she’d show Auburn who’s boss. Her improvement and the way she’s capitalized on her new role as a three-level scorer is sure to make Auburn play on their toes.

How cool would it be for Hansen to break some personal records and help lead Mizzou to a win?

3. Take high quality, high percentage shots and spread the floor.

Just like South Carolina, Auburn has done a great job at limiting opponents’ shooting from both the field and from three, allowing 35.7% and 24%, respectively.

Mizzou doesn’t struggle with taking high percentage shots. They’re shooting 47.7% from the field and 37.2% from three. When facing a team who defends extremely well from beyond-the-arc when your team shoots automatic from three is bound to be a challenge.

For Mizzou, they cracked South Carolina’s code by taking smart shots and spreading the floor. Auburn has a similar code to crack. It’s a matter of can and will they be able to do it again?

Updates:

New starting lineup for Mizzou: Williams, Dembele, Hansen, Frank and Smith. This is Smith’s first career start.

First quarter:

At the 7:56 mark, Ladazhia Williams finally gets Mizzou on the board on a post-up layup. Mizzou trails 2-4.

Hansen gives Mizzou the lead off a three pointer on the break from Dembele. Mizzou leads 5-4.

Hansen dishes on the dribble drive to Smith for the layup. Mizzou trails 7-8.

Blackwell has checked in for the first time tonight and immediately gets two rebounds, one defensive and one offensive.

At the media timeout, Mizzou trails 7-12. Higginbottom is set to check in after the break.

Auburn turns the ball over on a 5 second count.

Williams posts and banks the fadeaway at the shot clock buzzer. Mizzou trails 9-12.

Higginbottom drives and bounce passes to Blackwell for the easy layup. Mizzou trails 11-12.

Hansen drains two free throws. Mizzou trails 13-17.

At 9.4 seconds left in the first, Coulibaly travels. Mizzou can’t capitalize on the turnover.

At the end of the first, Mizzou trails 13-17.

Second quarter:

Williams gets Mizzou on the board in the second quarter some post moves. Mizzou trails 15-19.

Williams drives and lays it in. Tigers trail 17-19.

Frank drains a three, Mizzou’s second make from beyond-the-arc, and they retake the 20-19 lead.

Blackwell spins and gets the bucket. Mizzou trails 22-24.

Frank gets a huge block on Coulibaly on the drive.

After a no-call travel on Auburn, Dembele comes up with a steal. Great ball movement, a flop form Honesty Scott-Grayson and Williams gets the bucket. Mizzou trails 24-26.

Williams gets the bucket on the offensive board. Mizzou trails 26-28. She is down injured on the court.

Blackwell goes one-on-one with Coulibaly and banks in a midrange jumper.

Halftime: Mizzou trails Auburn 28-32.

Third quarter:

Coulibaly is blocked on Auburn’s first possession.

Hansen drives, hesitates and steps back for a midrange jumper. Mizzou trails 30-32.

Frank is fouled and heads to the line. She splits her free throws and Mizzou trails 31-32.

Frank plays some great defense and forces a jump ball. Possession Mizzou.

Williams is fouled and heads to the line. She sinks both free throws. Mizzou trails 33-37.

Hansen responds to Coulibaly’s three and steps back and takes it to the bank for her own. Mizzou trails 36-40.

Out of the timeout, Frank gets a block, her fourth of the night which is a new career high.

Williams is fouled and heads to the link for two. She sinks both and Mizzou is within two.

Dembele draws a foul on the moving screen.

Frank fakes, jabs and drives left and drains the layup for the and-one opportunity. She drains the free throw and gives Mizzou a 41-40 lead.

Dembele feeds Blackwell underneath and she finishes. Mizzou leads 43-40.

Blackwell drives baseline and floats one in. Mizzou leads 45-40.

Great defense by Blackwell to force a turnover off a Wells travel.

At the end of the third quarter, Mizzou leads Auburn 45-40.

Fourth quarter:

After Dembele gets cut off at the foul line, she dishes to a wide open Frank who has a pretty clear path to the hoop and is fouled. She sinks the free throw. Mizzou leads 45-42.

Blackwell has her 10th double-double of the season. She currently has 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Off the inbound, Hansen is wide-open and hits a jumper. Mizzou trails 50-53.

After Coulibaly misses both of her free throws, Auburn is called with a kick-ball.

Williams is fouled off the inbound. Auburn calls a time out. Williams will shoot two.

Williams continues her perfection from the line. She drains both and Mizzou is within one, 52-53.

Hansen isolates and hits the pull up midrange jumper. Mizzou takes the 54-53 lead. Tigers are on a 6-0 run.

Hansen is cut off and dishes to Williams who lays it in. Mizzou retakes a 56-55 lead. She has 20 points.

Williams drives right on her own with practically no contest. She gets the easy layup and Mizzou extends their lead by three; 58-55.

Blackwell drains one free throw. Wells leans in for a layup and ties the game up at 59. Mizzou is unable to get the game winning shot and we’re going to overtime!

OVERTIME!:

Mizzou gets the first bucket of overtime off a Hansen three pointer from the left wing. Mizzou leads 62-59.

Auburn gets hit with their second five-second call of the game.

Blackwell battles down low with Coulibaly and somehow gets the bucket. Mizzou leads 64-59. That bucket marks her entry into the 1,000 point club.

Williams spins, turns and lays in a lefty layup. She has 24 points. Mizzou leads 66-61.

Williams is fouled after an Auburn miss and she heads to the line. She splits her free throws, her first miss of the night. Mizzou leads 67-61.

Frank is fouled and heads to the line for two. She drains both and Mizzou leads 69-61.

Frank sinks a layup and is fouled for her third and-one opportunity of the night. She sinks both and Mizzou leads 72-61. Auburn calls a time out.

Final: Mizzou defeats Auburn 72-63 in overtime!