This afternoon, Mizzou (17-11, 6-9 SEC) return home to face off against the Florida Gators (15-13, 4-11 SEC) on senior day. No matter the year, senior games are always a special occasion. For a lot of Mizzou fans, Haley Troup’s can come close to Sophie Cunningham, Lauren Aldridge and Cierra Porter’s senior night. Just hear me out for a second.
Troup’s gone through the ups and downs of this program. When she stepped on campus in 2017 she was forced to sit out after transferring from South Carolina. She was able to soak up skills from the veterans and bring it to the hardwood in 2018-2019. Troup stuck through Mizzou’s losing seasons in the post-Cunningham era. She was a true leader last season and further exemplified that after defeating South Carolina. The way she’s grown as a leader and person in these six years is amazing to see. Anyone could’ve just up and transferred after these losing seasons but Troup stuck it out. That’s some of the many reasons why her senior game is special. Her impact on the program exemplifies Mizzou’s core values.
Ashton → Rosie pic.twitter.com/hDf3pOGVKR— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouWBB) February 24, 2023
Despite what that tweet says, Ashton Judd actually passed it to Troup.
Although this is a game that is a fun one in the sense of honoring Troup, with Mizzou back on the next four out per Charlie Creme, it is a must win for NCAA tournament hopes.
Here are the keys to the game for the Tigers.
1. Lucky number 60
Welcome to another segment of the number 60. There is something about SEC teams and the number 60 this season that is just so crucial. Mizzou is now 17-4 when they score 60 points with the 4 coming from their 64-72 loss at Ole Miss. That record is still a number that falls in Mizzou’s favor.
So how does 60 affect Florida? Well, not in the way Mizzou wants it to. This season Florida is 10-0 when they hold opponents to less than 60 points. Coach Finley always emphasizes defense in her team which mostly follows through. When Florida allows teams to score over 60, they’re 5-13.
The bright side is Mizzou’s points per game average is 65.5. Florida allows opponents to score 69.39 points per game. If Mizzou is able to stand their ground and get over 60 points offensively, especially in front of their home crowd, then that’ll be a great jolt heading into the SEC tournament.
2. Turn on the jets everywhere
If there is one game you want to just go off on all ends, it is the final game of the regular season. Aside from wanting to celebrate “the vet” with a win, they know what’s at stake. The Tigers turned on the jets in the third quarter against Ole Miss, outscoring the Rebels 27-19. Unfortunately, they lost their steam and couldn’t get the win.
That absolutely cannot happen against Florida. Offensively, Lauren Hansen absolutely hit everything on all cylinders. She anchored the offense with a season high of 26 points and took over the scoring before Hayley Frank got her mojo back with 14 points. That’s great that them two were able to handle scoring but everyone needs to get involved someway somehow in order to get the win.
Lo connects pic.twitter.com/g3NxTGlGGa— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouWBB) February 24, 2023
On the defensive side, Jayla Kelly is still game-to-game so it is uncertain whether or not the Tigers will have her in the post. On the assumption that she’s once again not available, then Sara-Rose Smith will be in charge. Ra Shaya Kyle is the Gators’ main presence in the paint. The 6’6 center is averaging 9.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
In regards to perimeter defense, Florida has a dual-guard threat in KK Deans and Nina Rickards. Deans is on an absolute tear this season boasting averages of 14.4 points on 38.4% shooting from the field and 39.8% from beyond-the-arc. Rickards is below her, averaging 11.1 points per game on 38.6% shooting from the field.
Mizzou needs to bring out their absolute best game play. Seeding might not really be at stake as they’re projected 8th or 9th. But their NCAA tournament fate is still in the mix.
3. Soak it all in
Not necessarily a key to the game, but more like something special for everyone to appreciate. Whether you’re going as a fan, covering it, watching from home or playing in the game it’s a special moment that can’t be taken for granted.
The environment for senior games has a unique feeling from other games. Show up and show out to honor Troup for all she’s done for the Mizzou community.