After splitting their most recent road trip, the Missouri Tigers (16-6, 5-4 SEC) welcome the Ole Miss Rebels (17-4, 5-3 SEC) today at 4 PM on the SECN. The original tip off time was set for 6 pm but changed due to inclement weather in Columbia.
Ole Miss is coming off just a week of being ranked in the AP Top-25. Their losses to both No. 1 South Carolina and No. 15 Georgia forced the Rebels out of the top-25, but they still received votes.
Mizzou is coming off a week where they did not receive any votes in the top-25, likely due to losing to Mississippi State, and in spite of beating Alabama. The Tigers redeemed themselves after defeating the Crimson Tide 77-61 with scorching hot shooting and an overall balanced game. Check out my takeaways article for more details.
Missouri wants to begin a new win streak while Ole Miss wants to get back on the right track after two defeats. Here are the keys to the game for the Tigers.
1. Shut down Shakira Austin.
Ole Miss’ roster holds one of the best centers in the SEC, Shakira Austin. The 6’5 super-senior continues to take the SEC by storm, and in conference play, she’s averaging 17.3ppg and 8.3rpg. On the season, she’s averaging 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds. Her scoring stats have blossomed throughout conference play against the greater competition.
Austin’s most impressive stat comes with her ferocious defense. She ranks first on the team with 42 total blocks (2 per game) and third on the team with 33 steals (1.6).
Mizzou will have to find a way to get around Austin on both ends of the floor and limit the amount of touches she gets. Ole Miss primarily plays through Austin so shutting her down in a must.
2. Challenge the Ole Miss perimeter defense.
In conference play, Ole Miss hasn’t faced a truly lethal three-point shooting team like Mizzou. Sure, they faced Texas A&M, who is currently second in the SEC in three-point shooting percentage with 39.1%, but Mizzou has a different breed of three point shooters.
After shooting 47.4% from beyond the arc against Alabama, they eclipsed Texas A&M for first place in the SEC, and are now draining 39.8%.
Due to the Rebels not facing high volume perimeter shooting, they’ve limited opponents to a measly 27.5% from three. Mizzou is on a high in their shooting prowess. Launching every possible look can exploit holes in the Rebels’ perimeter defense and make them play catchup.
3. Show me some deep bench play!
The bench got completely involved in the win against Alabama. Literally every single player available touched the court. LaDazhia Williams was obviously the star off the bench against Bama, and having her as the main defender on Austin is a huge benefit when Mizzou lacks height in their starting lineup.
Jayla Kelly showed her sparks of athleticism and potential with two great buckets against Alabama. If Coach Pingeton decides to go to Kelly early and down the stretch as another person to guard the Ole Miss post players, it will benefit Mizzou on offense.
Mizzou’s bench will finally have Izzy Higginbottom available, which bolsters the offense. Having her back is a huge help, and the Tigers bench will be ready to pounce.