It’s been one week since the Mizzou women’s basketball team stepped onto the hardwood back at the Bahamas. As there was no recap on Rock M for the loss against then-no. 11 Virginia Tech from November 23, here is a quick one. VA Tech is now ranked no. 9.
The Tigers gave the Hokies everything they had in the first half of the game. They led 14-11 to end the first quarter and continued their solid play into the second. The Hokies were able to come back and outscore the Tigers 14-15 in the second. Mizzou head into the half with a one-point lead. In the end, the Hokies’ athleticism and length overcame the Tigers. Katlyn Gilbert went down with an injury, which meant a key asset to their defense was gone. Despite playing so tough, Mizzou dropped their first game of the season, 73-57. In my opinion, this is not one to be upset and hang your heads over. Haley Troup carried the team on her back with 21 points, tying a career high and shot 50% from the field.
Despite the loss, thank you to the women’s basketball team for a great birthday present! (And the men’s team, too.)
Now onto this upcoming matchup. The Saint Louis Billikens are yet another team on Mizzou’s slate who went through a coaching change and a heap of transfer portal losses and acquisitions. After 10 years at the helm, Lisa Stone’s contract was not renewed. SLU’s main loss was Ciaja Harbison, who grad transferred over to Vanderbilt. She ended her career in St. Louis ranked second all-time in total points scored and third in scoring average with 15.9 points per game.
SLU locked in an up-and-coming star coach in Rebecca Tillett from Longwood. In her short tenure with the Lancers, she completely revamped a program that was 31-119 before she took over. Last season, Tillett took her team to the NCAA tournament where they defeated Mount St. Mary’s in the first four, before eventually losing in the first round to Louisville.
A plus for Tillett is she brought some of her best players from Longwood over to St. Louis in Kennedy Calhoun, Kyla McMakin (who I will get to below) and Briana Johns. She was able to retain Brooke Flowers, who was half of the one-two punch with Harbison.
This team may be newer but they have a ton of weapons who can cause a lot of trouble for opposing teams. Here are the keys to the game for the Tigers.
1. Clamp down on SLU’s two main stars
Brooke Flowers and Kyla McMakins are two players that Mizzou’s eyes have to be absolutely peeled to.
Flowers is a menace down low on both offense and defense. The 6’5 center nearly recorded a double-double in Mizzou’s last season meeting with SLU, recording 10 points and nine rebounds. This is where it gets complicated for the Tigers, as last year they had Aijha Blackwell and LaDazhia Williams to help guard her and they matched up pretty well. Presumably, it’s Jayla Kelly’s turn to apply the defense on her. Flowers has great length and athletic ability that makes her deadly on the glass and when going for the block. She’s leading the team with a total of 38 blocks on the season which will make the Tigers’ driving game that much harder. On the season, she is the second leading scorer with 12.3 points and the leading rebounder with 7.9 per game. She is going to be so tough to navigate but Mizzou has the tools to stop her especially if Coach Pingeton decides to utilize Sara-Rose Smith as her defender when Kelly is on the bench.
The rebound— Saint Louis WBB (@SaintLouisWBB) November 27, 2022
The bench reaction
1,000 rebounds for Brooke Flowers! pic.twitter.com/RUSAwvRDJ8
SLU’s next high impact player Mizzou needs to clamp onto is McMakins. The Longwood transfer’s been torching defenses this season with her scoring. She’s currently second in the Atlantic-10 and first for the Billikens in points per game, averaging 19.7 points per game.
The only downside to her game is the fact that she doesn’t really do anything else other than score. She’s grabbed 3.3 rebounds per game thus far but that’s really the only statistic that stands out aside from her scoring. The 5’11 guard is a pure shooting guard who really only shoots. She’s the go to scorer for her team and Mizzou needs to make her uncomfortable and force her to pass every single time she touches the ball.
2. Start scoring fast
In all of their matchups this season, Mizzou’s found themselves getting their offense heated up quickly albeit a lot of cold spells throughout the flow of the game. Throughout the season, Mizzou’s led at halftime in six of their seven games thus far with only one of those leads ending in a loss which was Virginia Tech.
When Mizzou’s scoring is elevated and starts off quick, it seems like there’s really nothing that can stop them from going on runs. Even in the loss against the Hokies, Haley Troup was able to cut the deficit to single digits at one point because of her scoring.
Needless to say, the starting five will determine the flow of the game. If Troup, Lauren Hansen and Hayley Frank can hit some early buckets and force SLU into an early timeout, momentum should be able to stay on their side throughout the game. Scoring will set the tone and it needs to be positive.
3. Execute fluid offensive passing
SLU has the ability to force turnovers, and while they haven’t forced nearly as many as Mizzou’s previous opponents, the Tigers’ track record has proven this is something to monitor.
The Billikens have forced 165 turnovers vs turning the ball over 176 times. So, in theory, the turnover game is in Mizzou’s favor. Mizzou’s only turned the ball over 115 times this season so again, that is in the Tigers’ favor.
But with the current trend of turning the ball, the Tigers just can’t feel comfortable with having the better numbers on the season. Anything can happen so the Tigers might as well execute fluid and smart passing.
Talkin' tacos— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouWBB) November 30, 2022
Mizzou welcomes Saint Louis to Mizzou Arena on November 30 at 7 pm CST on SECN+.