Missouri drops second straight game to 13th Tennessee

After a week-long hiatus, as fans hoped Mizzou could overcome their previous loss to Ole Miss, the Tigers traveled to Knoxville to face the struggling No. 13 Tennessee Lady Volunteers. To the dismay of fans, Tennessee defeated Mizzou by a score of 76-62.

Coach Pingeton changed the starting lineup, inserting LaDazhia Williams in favor of Lauren Hansen. Williams is the Tigers’ leading post player, so the decision made sense. Mizzou was undersized and guarding the center of Lady Vols 6’6 Tamari Key meant the Tigers needed height from the start.

To Mizzou’s credit, it worked in the first and second quarters. Neither team could get anything in attack due to the good play of both defenses. Unfortunately, Williams was foul-ridden and lost the majority of the second quarter.

The second half was a whole different story. For a live version of the second half (and the entire match), check out my live game feed.

Missouri kept the game close and then let it slip away resulting in the loss. Here are my takeaways from last night’s game.

1. Mizzou closed Tamari Key.

I wrote in my game keys how important it was for Mizzou to limit Tamari Key at all costs. They did exactly that and it was amazing. It was truly one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen from Mizzou on a towering post player all season. (If you disagree, please write your views in the comments section. I’d love to see them!)

Despite the size mismatch and Williams going to the bench due to early foul issues, Mizzou limited Key to five points and four rebounds on 2-5, or 40 percent, shooting and a stellar usage percentage of 8.8. Only allowing Key to attempt five shots and limiting his touches helped Mizzou in a small way.

2. The third trimester.

Y’all, I have a lot to say about this third quarter, but I will limit myself. It was catastrophic. Mizzou came out of halftime with a five-point deficit, down 32-37, and had some momentum.

Unfortunately, the Tigers were completely dismantled in the third quarter. It was as if they had no energy. The shots did not fall. Tennessee kicked them out of the field in transition. The defense practically did not exist. Nothing made sense. It was really reminiscent of the recent struggles to get on the board. I hoped they would accumulate the energy needed to get something done, but they were exhausted and defeated.

That quarter was probably the reason they lost the game. They were outscored 26-6. Yes, you read that right. It wasn’t that they didn’t look open or beautiful, though. They definitely were and they took them. Sometimes the ball doesn’t find the net, but their defense and lack of speed was the deciding factor and the tendency of the horrible third quarter.

This particular third quarter is the one for the fans to forget and the one the team must learn from.

3. Young people have saved valuable time.

This one will be quick. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how valuable the underclass minutes were in this game.

The advantage of these types of deficits or leads, depending on how Mizzou is doing, is the ability to use the bench. It’s so important to give minutes to subclasses in these games. The development and learning experiences of stepping into the field to show off their skills are crucial. These players are the future of the team. Using them, no matter how hard it is, brings excitement to the fans and the team as a whole.

Kiya Dorroh showed his defense in 15 minutes on the pitch with two steals, one of them backing up Aijha Blackwell after a bizarre and entertaining sequence of events saw her hit an immediate lay-up.

Izzy Higginbottom drained half of his shots for six points with 15 minutes on the field. His most notable play was a hip tuck drive to the basket that I wish I had a video of.

4. Lauren Hansen equals the spark from the bench.

As I mentioned before, Williams started in favor of Hansen for height purposes. Everyone knew Hansen would still get his regular starting minutes, so it was nothing to worry about.

In fact, nothing about his game raised any red flags. She was the absolute bright spot of this Mizzou team. In 31 minutes of play, Hansen had 22 points, two steals and one block. His shooting was phenomenal. She shot 9-15 or 60 percent from the floor and drained 4-6 or just under 67 percent from her three-pointer. As usual, she was a local dagger. Hansen helped guide a fourth quarter comeback with Mizzou beating Tennessee 29-18. Sure, it was too little too late, but his display on the pitch gave Mizzou hope.

Honorable mention: Blackwell is back on the double-double train recording his 18th of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds on 50% shooting.

Next, Mizzou returns home to face Arkansas on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. on SECN+.

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