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Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats: Hoops Preview and Live Game Thread

The Tigers and the Wildcats get it on at Memorial Coliseum today at 5:00pm.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off two straight losses — one at home to Florida, and a second on the road to South Carolina. Today, Missouri comes to Lexington to try to make it a three-game losing streak.

Missouri and Kentucky meed with identical 13-3 records, although Mizzou has played a significantly weaker schedule to date. The Tigers are led in scoring by 6'1" senior forward Bri Kulas, who is averaging 18.2 points per game. She is also the second-leading rebounder for the Tigers at 6.1 per game. The leading rebounder is Jordan Fredricks, who manages almost 9 points per game and 8.3 rebounds.

Missouri is a very deep team, much like Kentucky, and they have 9 players averaging double-digit minutes and one who is just under that. The Tigers are currently unranked but could easily crack the top 25 with a victory over Kentucky today

Kentucky is the higher-scoring team of the two overall, bu in conference, both teams are averaging around 72 points per game. Kentucky wants to get the game going at a faster pace, averaging almost 84 possessions per 40 minutes, while Missouri averages just over 74.

Kentucky will want to speed the Tigers up in this game, and force a high number of turnovers. Missouri doesn't turn the ball over a great deal, but they do turn it over. So far, Missouri had been significantly more efficient than Kentucky at 1.011 points/possession against Kentucky's recently poor 0.92.

This will be DaNesha Stallworth's third game back from injury. She had a solid game against the Gamecocks in Columbia but it still struggling with her lateral quickness and game conditioning. But she did put in 20 minutes of work last game, so she should be getting close to well enough to have a major impact on the team.

Kentucky has been defending reasonably well, but unfortunately, the offense has been struggling of late from everywhere. The last two games, the Wildcats have shot under 40% from the floor overall, and has had eFG% season lows in the last two games, and hasn't been over 40% eFG% in the last two games. That has to change.

Shooting is what's killing Kentucky right now, and if the Wildcats want to defeat the Tigers, they're going to have to up their game.

Essentials for victory today

  • Generate easy baskets off turnovers. Kentucky has been forcing turnovers, but has failed to convert on a number of fast breaks lately.

  • Make free throws. Kentucky has been really poor from the line recently, and even though they get to the line a lot, they must make more that 60%. They haven't done that in the last two games.

  • Take better shots. Kentucky has been forcing shots, particularly from the perimeter, which is why they are missing so many.

  • Make layups.  Kentucky is missing way too many from point-blank range.

  • Get offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounds cure a lot of ills.

  • Avoid fouls. As former UK coach Rick Pitino was fond of saying, "Fouls negate hustle."

Go, 'Cats!