Eye meets the challenges of SEC defenses for Missouri women's basketball

Saturday, February 2, 2013 | 5:46 p.m. CST; updated 6:46 p.m. CST, Sunday, February 3, 2013

COLUMBIA — Late in the second half of the Missouri women's basketball team's game against Kentucky, Morgan Eye found herself with the ball and a clear view of the basket for the first time all game.

The fans at Mizzou Arena collectively held their breath, preparing for the familiar sight of the ball effortlessly sliding though the net.

Sunday's game

Missouri (14-8, 3-5 SEC) vs No. 9 Tennessee (17-4, 8-0 SEC)

WHERE: Mizzou Arena
WHEN: 1 p.m.
RADIO: KTGR 100.5 /103.1 FM 

Eye's shot followed its usual perfect arc but missed the rim entirely, sailing out of bounds for a turnover.

After being challenged all game by Kentucky's Jennifer O'Neill, Eye missed her only open shot opportunity of the night.

She finished the game against Kentucky with no 3-pointers for the only time this season.

"I mean, I guess there's some frustration because it kind of takes away one of my strengths," Eye said after the game. "But it's just something that I've got to realize, that that's how a lot of teams are going to start guarding me now."

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton has called Eye a "secret weapon" coming off the bench, but Eye is hardly a secret in the Tigers' new conference.

Her low profile was gone once she scored a Southeastern Conference-record 11 3-pointers in Missouri's second SEC game against Auburn. Guarding Eye has become a top priority for each team Missouri faces. 

But outside of the Kentucky game, Eye has made at least three 3-pointers in each conference game.

With 84 shots made from behind the arc this season, she's within six of the Missouri single-season record of 90, set by Alyssa Hollins in 2008.

Eye, who stands at an unimposing 5-foot-9, said she's embracing the challenge of the SEC's physical defenses. 

"I think it's exciting, knowing that you're going up against the best of the best," Eye said. "You feel like you really earn your threes, you know? You're not just shooting wide open shots all day. Anyone can do that."

After her successful freshman campaign, Eye's coaches challenged her to work on a quicker shot release, and she spent her offseason practicing at game pace to get to the speed she's at now.

Within the season, the Missouri coaches require their players to make 1,000 shots per week in practice, starting each Monday.

Last week, Eye had 1,125 shots made by Tuesday afternoon.

"I've kind of challenged my teammates to beat me, trying to see who can get up the most this week," Eye said.

Eye and the Tigers will face another challenge Sunday, when No. 9 Tennessee comes to Mizzou Arena. 

And while Missouri lost to the Volunteers 84-39 in its trip to Knoxville on Jan. 10, Eye had her usual quiet confidence when speaking of the matchup.

"I think against Tennessee, I got 17 shots off," Eye said. "I'm going to get open looks. I've just got to make sure that I take advantage and I stick those shots." 

Missouri and Tennessee will tip off at 1 p.m. Sunday in Mizzou Arena.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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