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Missouri heads south for first SEC road test/LIVE GAME THREAD

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Mizzou heads to Fayetteville for their first SEC road game against a good Arkansas squad.

Mizzou guard Izzy Higginbottom (30) Mizzou Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Thursday, January 06, 2022.
Mikayla Schmidt/Mizzou Athletics

After what seems like ages, Mizzou Women’s Basketball is back on the road again. In the first of two big road games this week, Missouri will play rival Arkansas today at 2 pm. You can check out the action on SECN+.

Remember, the Tigers were supposed to have their first road test against Vanderbilt last Sunday, but it was postponed due to Covid issues within Missouri’s program. That means the last time they hit the road was in the Braggin Rights win against Illinois on December 22.

Arkansas hasn’t exactly lived up to last year’s hype when they finished the season ranked no. 25 in the nation. A big part of that is because Chelsea Dungee left the Razorbacks for WNBA (she was drafted fifth overall to the Dallas Wings).

Despite Dungee leaving, the Razorbacks bring back star guard Amber Ramirez, who’s using her extra Covid year of eligibility, and brought in the no. 7 recruit in the country, 6’5 guard/forward Jersey Wolfenbarger. The Hogs also dabbled in the transfer portal, bringing home Fayetteville native Sasha Goforth, who received PAC-12 All-Freshman honors at Oregon State last season.

The Razorbacks aren’t bad, though. They’re currently 10-5 overall, but just 0-2 in SEC play. Arkansas is lacking in three point shooting, which used to be their strong point. As of January 7, they are ranked 29th in the NET, while Missouri sits at 43 after topping out at 41 on Friday (we here at Rock M hate the NET).

NCAA women’s basketball NET rankings as of January 7, 2022.

Arkansas is looking for a spark after losing a close one at Vanderbilt on Thursday, while Mizzou is looking to continue their hot streak.

Here are the keys to defeating the Razorbacks and becoming Battle Line champions.

1. Protect the ball and limit turnovers.

Against Auburn, the Tigers turned the ball over 20 times. Against South Carolina, they only committed eight turnovers. Sure that could’ve been due to rust from not practicing and players returning from Covid, but against Arkansas, the turnovers must be contained.

On the season, Arkansas has forced 253 total turnovers and stolen the ball 115 times. Opponents have forced the Razorbacks to turn the ball over 170 times and have stolen the ball 69 times.

If Mizzou wants to win this game, they have to focus on protecting the ball, especially limiting live ball turnovers.

2. Go forth with guarding Sasha, Daniels and Ramirez.

Go forth. Get it? Because Sasha’s last name is Goforth. Haha. Okay let’s get down to business.

Goforth, Ramirez and Makayla Daniels are Arkansas’ best shooters. Daniels is leading the team with 14.2ppg on 45.2% shooting from the field and 32.4% from three. Goforth is second with 11.9ppg on 42.7% shooting. And Ramirez is third with 11.7ppg on 38.5% shooting and 36.9% from three.

Because the three ball hasn’t been going down for the Razorbacks as a team, excluding Ramirez in this scenario, Goforth and Daniels will likely look to go inside and settle for the midrange more often to take higher percentage shots.

Those three should be on Mizzou’s radar for all 40 minutes… or 45 if overtime happens again.

3. Take one rebound at a time. There’s no need to rush.

I’m a Jordin Sparks fan so whenever I find time to use her songs for anything sports-related, I don’t hesitate. (Editor’s Note: I do not know this reference, but apparently the lyric is “One step at a time, there’s no need to rush”)

Of course Mizzou should take one step at a time, but they should emphasize taking one rebound at a time as well. Arkansas is not a super strong rebounding team, averaging 38.9 per game, but they are good at limiting opponents’ rebounds, allowing 39.1 per game.

For Mizzou, they’re averaging 37.8 rebounds per game, but have only allowed opponents to grab 31.6. Their advantage on defensive boards is heavily apparent, mostly thanks to double-double machine, Aijha Blackwell.

Blackwell and LaDazhia Williams will have to be extremely consistent on the boards, and in order to get the offense going in transition, those two must box out and contest every single rebound. Everyone knows rebounds can be the deciding factor between a win and a loss.

If Mizzou is able to take advantage of the boards and limit Arkansas to maybe 35 maximum, the Tigers should be in a great position to defeat their rivals and move up in the rankings.

Updates:

Mizzou is once again without the services of Haley Troup. Aijha Blackwell is back in the starting lineup.

Starting lineup: Williams, Hansen, Dembele, Blackwell and Frank.

First quarter:

Williams win the tip and Frank gets them on the board first with a stop and midrange jumper.

Hansen steps back and drains the three. Mizzou leads 5-4.

Dembele is left wide open for three at the top of the key and drains it. Mizzou trails 8-11.

Just like that, the game is tied at 11 after a Frank three.

After eight minutes of play, there is finally a stoppage with a media timeout at 2:15 left in the first.

After an Arkansas 8-0 run, Pingeton calls a timeout with 52.4 seconds left in the first quarter. Tigers trail 11-19.

Dembele is fouled and has a chance for two. She splits the free throws but ends Arkansas’ run. Mizzou trails 12-19.

At the end of the first, the Tigers trail Arkansas 12-19. Frank leads Mizzou with 5 points and 3 rebounds.

Second quarter:

At the 8:07 mark, Blackwell is fouled inside on an Arkansas blocking foul and has a chance for two. She splits the free throws. Mizzou trails 13-21.

After allowing a ton of easy layups, Dembele sinks another three pointer. Mizzou trails 16-25.

Frank converts a layup off a feed from Hansen. Tigers trail 18-27.

Higginbottom drives and dishes to Blackwell for the layup. There’s a long review on who was called for a blocking foul but the layup still counts. Mizzou trails 20-27.

After allowing a lot of unanswered points, Smith stops the run and drains a three. Mizzou trails 23-37.

Mizzou finally gets another bucket off a wide open lefty layup from Higginbotton. Mizzou trails 25-41.

Higginbottom again drives and gets a layup. Tigers trails 27-44.

Frank drains a three to end the half.

Halftime: Mizzou trails Arkansas 30-47. Frank is leading Mizzou with 10 points and 3 rebounds.

Third quarter:

Dembele tucks and drives left to the lane for a layup. Mizzou trails 32-48.

Smith gets an offensive rebound off a Frank miss, dishes to Blackwell and she is fouled. Blackwell converts both layups. Mizzou trails 34-48.

Smith is fouled on the drive. She splits her free throws. Tigers trail 35-51.

Blackwell is double teamed and finds a cutting Smith for the layup. Mizzou trails 37-51.

Dembele is fouled on the drive and has a chance for two. She sinks both of her layups. Mizzou trails 39-54.

Dorroh gets a nice drive to the basket and converts the layup. Mizzou trails 41-56.

Frank hits a wide open three on the right wing. Mizzou trails 44-56.

Blackwell is fouled on the double team while going up for the layup. She drains both of her free throws and it’s now a 10 point game.

Higginbottom pump fakes and dribbles up for a midrange jumper. Tigers trail 48-59.

At the end of the third, Mizzou trails Arkansas 48-62.

Fourth quarter:

Hansen drives for a reverse layup to get the first points in the fourth. Mizzou trails 50-62.

Dembele hits a wide open three in transition to cut the Razorback’s lead to single digits. She has a new career high with 14. Arkansas calls a time out. Mizzou trails 53-62.

Frank fakes and lays it in and the lead is back to nine. Mizzou trails Arkansas 55-64.

Dembele drives left and lays it it. Mizzou trails 57-68.

Frank catch and shoots from the corner for three. Mizzou trails 60-70.

Hansen and Blackwell hit back-to-back layups. Hansen on the drive and Blackwell off a dish from Dembele. Mizzou trails Arkansas 64-73.

Hansen drains a three and it’s again a nine point game. Mizzou trails 67-76.

Blackwell gets a layup and is fouled. She has her 11th double-double of the season. Tigers trail 69-78.

Frank posts and spins for a layup. She has 22 points. Mizzou trails 71-80.

Frank hits a jumper with eight seconds left. Mizzou trails 73-83.

Final: Arkansas hands Mizzou their first SEC loss, defeating the Tigers 83-73.