Missouri women’s basketball has been short on practice time and players.
Between COVID-19 protocols and injuries, the Tigers have practiced once in the past week. Their victory against Auburn on Thursday night at home was their first chance to play five-on-five in the past week.
Now, Missouri (13-2, 2-0) will have another game with limited practice. The Tigers hit the road for the first time in Southeastern Conference play to take on Arkansas (10-5, 0-2) with a spot in the AP Top 25 potentially on the line.
Missouri struggled in two key areas in its win over Auburn: turnovers and 3-point shooting.
After giving the ball away eight times against No. 1 South Carolina, MU had 20 turnovers against Auburn. Every player who saw the court for more than three minutes committed a turnover.
Coach Robin Pingeton sourced the problems to minimal practice time over the past 10 days and Auburn’s pressure defense.
“Having 10 days off, your offense is going to be clanky,” she said. “Also, it’s hard to simulate their type of defense without our scout team.”
Three-point shooting is an area in which Missouri usually thrives. Shooting 37.4% and 117 makes from beyond the arc both rank second in the SEC, but that usual efficiency disappeared Thursday. The Tigers were only able to convert four 3s.
Being able to get out of the shooting slump is going to be the difference in whether Missouri improves to 3-0 in the SEC.
The Tigers are not the only team in the conference that loves to launch 3s. It’s Arkansas’ game, too.
The Razorbacks have attempted 407 3s this season. That’s good for 27.13 per game. Unfortunately for Arkansas, it is average at converting those attempts, hitting 33.1%, which is sixth in the SEC. Still, a team that shoots often from deep is always going to be primed for an offensive explosion.
Leading the charge is Amber Ramirez, who is averaging 11.7 points. Her dangerous scoring ability was put on display in last Sunday’s matchup against Tennessee, when she scored 26 points, including five makes from beyond the arc.
Makayla Daniels, Sasha Goforth and Erynn Barnum also average double figures for a Hogs offense that averages 75 points.
Goforth and Barnum lead down low at 6-foot-1 and 6-2, respectively, meaning Missouri’s LaDazhia Williams will need to follow up her 25-point performance against Auburn with another strong outing.
For Missouri, a second consecutive game against an unranked team provides a chance to start 3-0 in the SEC for just the second time since joining the conference. A victory would be huge, with tilts against ranked LSU and Georgia on the horizon.
Missouri is making sure not to overlook anyone, though.
“We’re just taking it game by game,” leading scorer and rebounder Aijha Blackwell said. “We’re not looking ahead.”