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Mizzou WBB Preview: Tigers continue home stand against UT-Martin

Mizzou looks to stay undefeated in front of their home crowd.

Mitchell Scaglione/ Mizzou Athletics

After defeating Western Kentucky 65-47, the Missouri Tigers (4-0) continue their home stand against the UT-Martin (1-1) Skyhawks. The already thin Tigers will take on a Skyhawks roster who plays tough and hard, especially on the perimeter.

Unfortunately for Mizzou, they’ll be without their top defensive perimeter player in starting point guard Mama Dembele. Dembele officially got surgery on her broken nose sustained against SEMO and will be out indefinitely.

This is not the first time Mizzou’s gone through a game down key players and yet they were still successful. (In case my drift isn’t caught, I’m talking about that South Carolina win last season.) The Tigers know how to overcome adversity and embody the “next woman up” mentality. Here are the keys to the game for Mizzou.

1. Get Katlyn Gilbert involved early

It’s Katlyn Gilbert time, y’all! Gilbert started her first game in a Mizzou uniform against Western Kentucky to fill in for Dembele. She did a great job with execution even if it only translated to two assists. She was called for some questionable fouls that decreased her playing time, but when she was on the court, she truly showed leadership qualities that the Tigers will need from their new starting point guard.

Fans know what Gilbert is capable of but in case you need a reminder, let me refer you back to my feature on her from September. Mizzou will be relying on her playmaking ability heavily, whether it be on the passing end or driving downhill by creating her own shot. Her defense will be heavily relied on with how well the Skyhawks’ guards play (see next key for more).

2. Contain Kenley McCarn and Paige Pipkin

There is something about McCarn and Pipkin that make them so special. It is also a tale of two different experiences. McCarn is a freshman, meanwhile Pipkin is a graduate who heavily emerged last season to earn All-OVC second team.

Pipkin can do basically anything asked of her. The 5’10 guard is currently second on the team in points per game with 18.5, and had a scoring outburst of 23 points in their blowout win over Arkansas State off the bench. Pipkin is the ultimate sixth woman for the Skyhawks and she will give the Tiger bench a run for their money on the defensive end.

McCarn is an absolutely special talent. It takes a lot for a freshman to come in and dominate. But to also be a starter and produce exceptional numbers is quite rare. The 5’11 guard/forward burst out for 31 points in the loss against Troy and continued her scoring prowess with 19 against Arkansas State. She can play pretty much anywhere on the floor, including the perimeter despite not being the strongest three point shooter. UT-Martin is clearly full of the opportunity for a freshman to dominate, and McCann is making the most of it in their small sample of games.

3. Force turnovers

The benefit of Gilbert being out there is her ability to force turnovers and steals by disrupting the passing lanes. It’s unfortunate she can’t tag team with Dembele, but Gilbert is capable of doing that along with the likes of Haley Troup and Lauren Hansen.

For the Skyhawks, the amount of turnovers they’ve committed so far is inconsistent. Against Troy, they committed 29 turnovers and allowing the Trojans to score 32 points off them. On the contrary, against Arkansas State, it seemed as though the Skyhawks figured out how to protect the ball, only committing six turnovers.

It’s kind of a yet-to-be-determined type of situation as to which Skyhawks team is going to show up in regards to committing turnovers. But if Mizzou wants to make sure the game is like the one against Troy, they’ll need to be aggressive right off the bat.

Mizzou takes on UT-Martin tonight at 7 pm on SECN+.