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Mizzou WBB Preview: Tigers look to continue streak vs SEMO

Robin Pingeton’s team has been hot offensively and hope to carry that over into a Sunday matchup against the Redhawks

Jaydyn Isiminger/Mizzou Athletics

After dismantling Bradley in the home opener, 83-38, the undefeated Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team is back at Mizzou Arena for an in-state matchup against the 1-1 Southeast Missouri State Redhawks.

Like the previous matchups against Missouri State and Bradley, SEMO went through their fair share of transfer portal exits, including some key players like grad transfers Taelour Pruitt and Deanay Watson, as well as junior Roshala Scott. The trio were the Redhawks’ leading scorers with Watson at 11.1, Scott at 10.8 and Pruitt at 10.3 points per game, respectively.

To help ease the loss of the aforementioned players, Coach Rekha Patterson brought in Independence, Mo. native Kiyley Flowers, who transferred from Grand Canyon. She also brought back two of her main catalysts, talented guard Rahema Henderson and forward Kennedi Watkins, the latter of whom was a two-time OVC Freshman of the Week last season.

In theory, Mizzou should have their paws all over SEMO, but stranger things have happened in the basketball world. Here are some keys to the game for the Tigers.

1. Emphasize size advantage

Just like against Bradley, Mizzou has the size advantage against SEMO. The way the Tigers utilized their size was one for the books. Jayla Kelly showed off her footwork down low against their smaller forwards/centers to convert off the glass. She stretched the floor and hit some midrange shots when she knew those smaller defenders couldn’t stop her. Kelly finished with a career high 13 points and three steals.

Another point of emphasis with their height is rebounding. Of course it’s still early in the season so the sample size is not as big, but Mizzou is averaging 38.5 rebounds per game while holding their opponents to 32. On the other side, SEMO is averaging 30.5 per game while allowing their opponents to rebound 34. Sara-Rose Smith will be a huge asset off the bench for her rebound game as she’s been dominating on the boards so far this season with nine per game.

The Tigers’ height and athleticism, while emphasizing playing an inside game in the paint needs to continue against the Redhawks.

2. Be patient on offense

A huge asset against Bradley was the Tigers’ ball movement and patience on the offensive end. Pingeton’s squad was smart with their use of the shot clock and offensive IQ when looking for shots. Exhibit A is the play in the tweet below.

Hayley Frank executed the drive and pass to Lauren Hansen beautifully. Instead of forcing a shot, Hansen wisely isolated to bring defenders towards her, and found Mama Dembele up top who passed to Haley Troup. Instead of forcing that shot up, Troup saw her defender coming and passed it back to where it all started at Frank for the three.

Not only did that possession turn into a fluid three from Frank, it showed maturity and IQ from the veterans on the court. Seeing the most experienced of them all emphasizing patience also led to the (mostly) less-experienced bench players to stay patient for a better outcome.

3. Shoot the three

In key number one, I explicitly said that they need to use their height, which allows them to pound down low. Against Bradley, Mizzou found their three point stroke in addition to their inside game. The Tigers shot 43.4% from beyond the arc with Hansen and Ashton Judd leading the way, draining three each.

Judd was a stud everywhere on the court while in high school at West Plains so it truly isn’t a surprise that she was able to drain a few threes. The “surprise” is her tying for the lead in the number of threes made.

Depending on how this game goes, Judd should get a lot of playing time off the bench and find herself with a lot of openings out on the perimeter, as should the rest of her teammates.

Mizzou tips off against SEMO today at 1 pm on SECN+.