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Mizzou WBB preview: Tigers travel to Alabama to face the Crimson Tide

Mizzou looks to go 3-0 in SEC play against a 12-3 (1-1) Alabama team.

Mizzou Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers at Neville Arena in Auburn, AL. on Sunday, January 01, 2022.
Jaydyn Isiminger/Mizzou Athletics

After a 2-0 start in SEC play, Mizzou women’s basketball (13-2, 2-0) is back in action as they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (12-3, 1-1) in Tuscaloosa. But this game day is not a normal game day.

When Alabama native Haley Troup touches the hardwood of Coleman Coliseum, she will officially break the record of appearances in the black and gold with 132. She will break a 42-year record that is currently held by Cindy Kiser (1976-1980). Troup breaking a record back in her home state in front of her friends and family is picture perfect.

The Tide are a heavily improved team from last season despite them finishing 20-14 overall and 6-10 in conference play. Coach Kristy Curry dove deep into the transfer portal bringing in talent like Sarah-Ashlee Barker from Georgia, Loyal McQueen from Georgia Tech and Aaliyah Nye from Illinois.

Mizzou may hold a slim 8-7 lead in the history of this matchup, but with the new firepower Alabama has to work with, it will be an absolute battle.

Also, congrats to Hayley Frank on scoring her 1,321st point against Auburn. She is currently tied for 16th on the all-time scoring list with Sarah Campbell (1982-1986).

Here are my keys to the game.

1. Slow down Alabama’s shooters

Alabama possesses a three-headed threat of three-point shooters in Brittany Davis, Aaliyah Nye, and Hannah Barber. Of the trio, Davis is the best, boasting averages of 16.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, respectively, on 35.2% shooting from three. Aaliyah Nye is averaging 8.4 points on 46.6% shooting from three whole Hannah Barber is averaging 7.8 points per game on an even 50% shooting from beyond the arc.

As a team, they’re shooting 38.4% from three-point land, good for first in the SEC. They also lead in three-point attempts with 383. A point of emphasis on the Tiger defense must be on (yes, I’m typing this) stopping their shooters from shooting. The Tigers will need to rely heavily on their zone defense in order to halt any shooting momentum the Tide will bring.

2. Lauren Hansen rebirth

Lauren Hansen scored exactly zero points in the win over on Sunday, but Mizzou still came out with the win. Without Hansen’s contributions on the scoring end, Hayley Frank continued her scoring tear with a team high 23 points. while Katlyn Gilbert joined her in double digits with 14.

Mizzou Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers at Neville Arena in Auburn, AL. on Sunday, January 01, 2022.
Jaydyn Isiminger/Mizzou Athletics

I have to think that Hansen’s lack of scoring against her former team means she will go on a tear against Alabama. Her scoring is key to Mizzou’s offensive flow in general even if it comes later in the game. Hansen is more than likely more motivated than ever to show everyone her slump against Auburn was just a heat check.

3. Bench defense

Early on in the season, Alabama shook up their lineup by benching second leading scorer Megan Abrams (9ppg) in favor of Aaliyah Nye and it has paid dividends. Sometimes Abrams wasn’t able to score much, but her 24-point outburst off the bench against Tennessee on New Year’s Day is a prime example as to why she’s utilized as a sixth woman weapon over a starter.

One thing we know for sure is Sara-Rose Smith will be coming off the bench. Her defensive assignment will more than likely be Abrams. We don’t know whether or not Coach Pingeton is starting Mama Dembele or Katlyn Gilbert at the point, but I’m running with the assumption Smith will guard Abrams for majority of the time. She is a capable perimeter defender and Abrams possess a quick trigger from three-point land so this will be something to watch.

Abrams is a very capable driver and midrange shooter which Smith can easily defend, especially on a smaller guard.

Mizzou takes on Alabama today at 6 pm CST on SECN+. You can listen to the radio call on KTGR and the MUTigers app.