Proof dreams can come true: Kentucky women’s basketball is televised for their next three straight games! They’ll be on the SEC Network for their game at Mizzou tonight, against Carolina in Lex on Thursday night, and back on the road to face Vandy Sunday afternoon. Ya’all, I think I have the vapors - guess there’s benefits to having the second hottest win streak in the SEC!
In all seriousness, the Cats have worked really hard to right a rocky ship. They’re currently 15-6 overall and 6-2 in conference play, which is good enough to be solidly in third place in the rankings. (Insert obligatory reference here on the need to be in the Top 4 going into the tournament on March 1st.) Mizzou is currently in fifth place at 5-3 in conference play and 15-7 overall.
What do we know about the Tigers, other than their fans should be ecstatic to have a team worth cheering for? They’re the best free throw shooting team in the league at 78.3%, a stat which has them ranked 8th in the country in FTs. They’ve hit the second most three pointers in the league at 146, but have only hit 33.5% of their attempts. They’re in the middle to bottom on all the other stat sheet stuffers. Kentucky, comparatively, leads no categories...the best we can claim is 5th in overall points scored, FT shooting (71.8%) and field goal percentage (44.2%).
I’d tell you all about their schedule, but find it suspect as it already lists who they’ve beaten through the end of the season as well as the score and attendance. (That has to be LY info, right? Or did Mizzou pull a Biff in Back to the Future II?) Anywho, the stats seem accurate enough on individual player performances. Yet again, the Tigers are led by Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter. Sophie is averaging over 16 PPG, and hits a lethal 47.3% from the field and 83.5% from the charity stripe. (I suggest we avoid fouling her.) Cierra is averaging just under 15 PPG, hitting 47.6% from the field and 78.9% of her FTs. Cierra also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 8.8 per game.
This should be a very fun game to watch if you’re not highly invested in the outcome. We’re going to need to defend like crazy, minimize fouls and turnovers, and make smart shots. One other element I’d like to see us work on is steals...we have the second lowest amount of steals in the conference. (Hard to believe, as Taylor Murray is so good at picking people’s pockets but the numbers don’t lie.) We also need to have another monster game from Evelyn Akhator, who had her 12th double-double of the season against Ole Miss on Thursday. (Evelyn also had 3 steals, so maybe she read the stats and became as concerned as I was?)
Based on Matthew Mitchell’s pre-game presser, it sounds like Makenzie Cann is questionable for this game due to flu. (I doubt the flu is fun with a broken nose - we hope you get better soon, Mak!) He sounded a little more positive on having Jessica Hardin back this week, which would be fantastic, although I’m sure her conditioning is going to be a little sub-par due to the stress on non-activity as part of concussion protocol. If Mak isn’t up to the task, we also need to have a solid game from Maci Morris and Alyssa Rice.
The Cats really need this win, both to continue to solidify their position in the SEC rankings and to give them confidence before they face South Carolina Thursday night. We know road games are tough in the SEC, so hopefully we’ll be able to give them lots of support here at ASoB.
Tipoff is at 7 PM tonight on the SEC Network. Until then, Cat fans - GO BIG BLUE!!!!