After a disappointing 88-71 loss at the hands of Arkansas, which saw Mizzou’s losing streak go to three on Sunday, the Tigers head to Athens to face off against the No. 21 Georgia Bulldogs tonight at 6 pm on SECN+.
Despite Georgia’s top-25 ranking, they’re in a similar boat as Mizzou. Like the Tigers, the Bulldogs have lost their last three games (to Florida, LSU and South Carolina, respectively). The upset loss against Florida on their home floor was the worst out of the three; the game went down to the wire and the Gators pulled off a win, 54-51. However, Georgia is still trending north despite the losing streak. Mizzou, on the other hand...
Mizzou’s three-game losing streak is on the opposite side of Georgia’s. The Tigers’ losses to Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas were all by double-digits. Mizzou didn’t seem to have fight in them like Georgia did. Their energy appears to be depleted, which led to nothing going right, even during small sparks of comebacks.
In order to win this game, the Tigers have to do a full 180 and put their best on the court for the full 40 minutes. Here are the keys to the game.
1. Play the best post defense on Earth.
Flash back to the last matchup against Georgia. The Bulldogs bullied Mizzou in the post and in the midrange. It seemed like Mizzou lost any ability to battle down low and to defend jumpers. To be fair to the Tigers, LaDazhia Williams was out with an injury sustained a few games earlier, so their main post presence wasn’t on the floor.
Mizzou gave up 44 of Georgia’s 72 points inside the arc. Jenna Staiti and Que Morrison were the top two scorers in the game, and both dominated inside. They accounted for 24 of Georgia’s points.
The good news? Williams is back, which gives the Tigers a huge reinforcement down low on defense. Now, will Williams come off the bench like usual or will Coach Pingeton opt to have her in the starting lineup to apply pressure on Staiti and the lanes immediately? We’ll have to watch to find out.
2. Limit fouls.
Oh gosh, fouls were the plague ofthe previous matchup. It seemed every single time a Georgia player drove inside, the whistle was blown. The Tigers were called for 21 fouls with a good majority of them being shooting.
At the free throw line, Georgia did their most damage. Currently, the Bulldogs are ranked second in the SEC for free throw percentage, converting 72.8%. Florida is ahead of them with 74%. Basically, it is presumed that Georgia will torch you from the line when given the opportunity.
In the last matchup, the Bulldogs hit 16 free throws, which is an absurd amount. Morrison drained nine, while Staiti drained six for 15 total. Those two are the most explosive players on Georgia’s roster. Whenever given the opportunity to draw a foul, they will find a way to do so. Mizzou must be careful when defending them to to ensure they won’t get punished at the line.
On the plus side, at least the fouls were nearly even, with Georgia being called for 19.
3. Blackwell must get rolling fast.
The last time these two teams met, Blackwell scored 27 points and added 13 rebounds. Over the three game losing streak, she’s averaged an even 7 points a game. That’s a pretty negative sign for a team that relies on her scoring and energy to get rolling. This isn’t to take away from Hayley Frank and Lauren Hansen, though. Both of them have provided so much energy and momentum lately when Blackwell hasn’t been able to get going offensively.
The difference between those two and Aijha though, is the fact that she is the heart and soul of this team. When Blackwell is in a slump, the team suffers. This is a common trend on all teams, and it happens. No team or player can shine night in and night out. The good news? Blackwell’s still brought the energy on the court, even during her slump. We saw that with Hayley Frank towards the end of non-conference play.
This team has the ability to play hard and produce without Blackwell. Just look at the win over South Carolina. Regardless, Aijha has to get touches on majority of offensive plays and produce, whether it be from setting up a teammate or on her own.
Startling lineup: No Blackwell tonight for the Tigers. Lineup is Williams, Hansen, Dembele, Troup and Frank.
After allowing Georgia to start the game on a 7-3 run, Frank drains a contested three. Mizzou trails 3-7.
Williams posts up and dribbles right for a layup. Tigers trail 5-7.
Kelly stuffs Que Morrison out of bounds. Tigers trail 5-9 at the media timeout.
Frank gets a steal and is fouled driving to the basket. She drains both of her free throws. She now has 1,001 career points. Tigers trail 7-9.
Kelly grabs the offensive rebound after Frank’s miss three. The game is tied at nine.
Troup dribble drives around right and is fouled. She splits her free throws. Mizzou trails 10-13.
At the end of the first quarter, Mizzou trails Georgia 10-16.
After allowing Georgia to go on a 6-0 run to start the second quarter, Coach Pingeton calls a timeout. Mizzou trails 10-22.
Kelly snaps Georgia’s 6-0 run with a high-low layup. She is fouled and misses her free throw. Tigers trail 12-22.
Kelly ties up Staiti forcing a jump ball.
Dembele drives and feeds to a trailing Kelly for a layup. Tigers trails 14-24.
Higginbottom grabs the rebound after a Georgia air-ball. She goes coast-to-coast and tucks the ball for a layup. The deficit is now in single digits. Tigers trail 16-24.
Frank drives and is fouled by Staiti. She makes both of her free throws. Tigers trail 18-26.
Frank deflects the pass and Kelly gets the steal. Frank hits a three on the other end. Mizzou trails 21-32
Troup drives and scoops left for her first bucket of the evening. Tigers trail 23-34.
Halftime: Mizzou trails Georgia 23-34.
Williams works in the post and gets a layup. Tigers trail 25-36.
Georgia takes a 15 point lead on a 6-2 run to start the third quarter forcing a Mizzou timeout. Tigers trail 25-40.
Out of the timeout, Williams hits a turnaround jumper. Tigers trail 27-40.
Troup jabs and steps back for a two. Tigers trail 29-42.
Williams hits a midrange shot after the defense laid off of her. Tigers trail 31-46.
Williams saves the deflected pass and goes by Nicholson for a layup. Tigers trail 33-51.
Frank drives past the defense and passes to Kelly who misses her layup but gathers the offensive board and put-back. Tigers trail 35-52.
Troup drives left and converts the easy layup. Tigers trail 37-54.
Smith grabs the offensive rebound and is fouled. She splits her free throws. Tigers trail 38-54.
Higginbottom is left wide-open for a three and drains it on the left wing. Tigers trail 41-58.
At the end of the third quarter, Mizzou trails Georgia 41-60.
Kelly blocks another shot and Higginbottom gets tied up on the other end. Mizzou trails 41-64.
Mizzou finally gets on the board in the fourth quarter with a side step baseline jumper. Tigers trail 43-68.
Dorroh and Isaacs got a bit chippy with a tech being called on Kiya and personal fouls called on both.
Technical called on Dorroh and personals called on both Dorroh and Isaacs https://t.co/Ha2nQdaomo— Lauren Rosenberg ️ ✡️ (@lrosenberg101) February 18, 2022
Kelly is fouled on a layup off an assist from Smith. She has a chance for an and-one which she misses off the front iron. Tigers trail 45-70.
Higginbottom is bumped at the top of the key and Mizzou is in the bonus. She drains b oth of her free throws. Tigers trail 47-72.
Micah Linthacum is left wide-open for a midrange jumper on the left wing. Tigers trail 49-74.
Final: Mizzou drops their fourth in a row to Georgia by a score of 74-49.