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Missouri women vow to to avoid letdown at Vanderbilt

Missouri women vow to to avoid letdown at Vanderbilt

January 11th, 2018 by Colin O'Brien in Mizzou Sports

COLUMBIA — No matter how good Sunday's win against then-No. 4 South Carolina felt for Missouri, the Tigers stressed they have put the win behind them to avoid looking past Vanderbilt.

Missouri (14-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) moved up to 12th in the Associated Press poll and 13th in the coaches poll, setting a high-water mark for the Robin Pingeton era ahead of today's 7 p.m. game against the Commodores in Nashville. Vanderbilt (4-13, 0-3 SEC) would be an easy team to suffer an energy drop-off against.

Pingeton, who said the Commodores' record is very deceiving because of their schedule this season, is confident that won't happen.

"I think we understand the importance of every single game and if we're going to get beat let's make sure we give our best effort, that's how the cards fell that game," Pingeton said. "But I think the maturity on our team, the leadership on our team, is really solid and I would be really disappointed if we weren't locked in, ready to go, and that's our job as coaches. There's no doubt in my mind that will not be the case for us."

Vanderbilt hung with undefeated No. 6 Tennessee for three quarters Sunday but could not keep the pressure up in the final frame in an 86-73 loss. Cierra Walker scored 20, Christa Reed scored 16 and Chelsie Hall added 15 in the loss.

The Commodores stayed in that game thanks to 3-point shooting, and the challenge for Missouri in this game is guarding the opposite style of play the Tigers had to contend with against LSU and the Gamecocks. Vanderbilt makes 38.4 percent of its threes, best in the SEC. Missouri's 36.9 percent is third-best in the conference.

Three Commodores — Walker, Reed and Rachel Bell — shoot better than 41 percent from deep.

"They're overall a good, well-rounded team," Missouri guard Lauren Aldridge said. "They have an inside presence, they shoot the three really, really well, so instead of packing it in or getting really extended or being able to run a zone, because they're so well-rounded, it makes them difficult to defend."

LSU and South Carolina were clearly the opposite, looking to establish a post presence immediately and feeding the ball down low as the primary scoring option.

Missouri should have a clear advantage down low in this game, however. The Tigers are near the top in the conference with 40 rebounds per game and 38 per conference game, but Vandy is dead last, averaging 28.5 per game, though that number jumps to 32 in conference games.

The Commodores also turn the ball over more than any other SEC team, 18 times per game and four more than the Tigers average.

The Tigers and Commodores have split their last two meetings, with Vandy winning the 2015-16 season finale 56-52 on the road and Missouri winning 74-68 a year ago in Nashville.