The Missouri Tigers took on a familiar foe the Arkansas Razorbacks in their SEC Tournament opener, knowing that if they lost this would likely be the end of their season. With NCAA Tournament dreams out the window, the best we’ll see is a possible showing in the WNIT. The Razorbacks continued to be the Tigers’ kryptonite en route to an 85-74 victory over the Tigers in a game that was seemingly a microcosm of their season.
A characteristic aspect of their first two games against the Razorbacks this season was the Tigers' inability to get a hot start, as they only scored 15 points combined in the first quarter in their two matchups earlier this season. Today, however, the Tigers mustered 21 points and raced out to an impressive 21-20 first-quarter lead, showing the difference between intensity in tournament play and regular season play.
Chrissy Carr proved to be a problem for the Tigers early as she started the game 3-4 from the field with 10 points. The Tigers, on the other hand, had more of a group effort, with Haley Troup leading with five points.
In the previous games, Arkansas would find its footing and pull away from the Tigers in the second quarter, but Missouri did not back down this time around. Thanks to some beautiful spot-up shooting, Missouri engineered an 8-0 run to give them a 35-32 lead with 3:03 left to play in the first half.
The two teams continued to trade shots from beyond the arc, as the Razorbacks and Tigers combined shot 14-29 on three-pointers. Meaning, 51.9% of the game's points at the half came from three-pointers. Additionally, all eight players in Missouri’s lineup had at least contributed three points going into halftime, contrary to the Razorbacks, who rode Carr’s 22-point first-half performance.
Early in the second half, Carr appeared to get injured and needed to have her wrist taped up, giving the Tigers a massive break. Mikaela Daniels, who exited the game earlier with an ankle injury, came back after halftime and looked a little sluggish step-wise but was still proving to be problematic for the Tigers.
Sara-Rose Smith was absolutely dominant in the third quarter as she racked up eight points in the quarter alone, using her inside positioning while the guards gave her great passes inside. Hayley Frank began to be a problem for Arkansas as well as she continued to shoot ridiculously hot from the field (she was 4-4 from beyond the arc) and had 12 points in the third quarter alone.
Arkansas had a great deal of trouble passing the ball into the paint and holding on to it, as the Tiger defenders were quick to generate steals and turnovers without fouling. This defending powered Missouri to an 11-0 run to take a staggering 64-53 lead late in the third quarter.
Erynn Barnum’s foul trouble was a massive part of this game, as she was seldom available to play for the Razorbacks. After opening the quarter down eight, the Razorbacks answered with a 5-0 run after Lauren Hansen missed a wide-open layup.
Late in the game, Missouri continued to take charges and essentially put every Razorback in foul trouble, forcing them to play with their hands behind their backs on every defensive possession. But Carr continued to burn the Tigers, and she had eclipsed her career-high with 32 points with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter and the Tiger lead dwindling to just three.
67 points is where the Tigers would rest for basically the rest of the fourth quarter, as Arkansas outscored them 29-10, leading Mizzou to yet another heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Razorbacks, 85-74 victory.
The Razorbacks shot 46.3% from the field and 41.4% from three, while the Tigers shot 43.9% from the field and 50% from three. Missouri was outrebounded 35-25 in this one.
Statistically, you can say whatever you want, but the fact is this team lacked clutch play throughout the season, they lost plenty of games late due to pretty horrendous fourth quarter shooting, and it cost them in this one.
Genuinely though, a game like this makes you question Head Coach Robin Pingeton’s future. My guess is she is here for one more year with players like Katlyn Gilbert, Frank, and Hansen returning with a very solid recruiting class coming in (one of Pingeton’s best ever). This does not mean the clock isn’t ticking, though.
If this is my last gamer of the season, know it has been a pleasure covering this team for you all and I thank you for reading my work and following along in the journey! Much love!
UP NEXT: TBD.