Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn women’s basketball team (12-2, 1-0 SEC) will hit the road for its first Southeastern Conference road game of the season at Missouri (11-4, 0-1 SEC) on Sunday as the Tigers look to add to their nine-game winning streak.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CST from Mizzou Arena and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN3.com.
The Tigers are coming off a 50-47 win over No. 23 ranked Arkansas on Thursday in the team’s SEC opener. The win was the first over a ranked team for Auburn in two years and the first over a ranked team at home in three years. Despite it also being the first SEC win for head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, she deflected and pointed out that each win is more confidence for the players.
“Honestly, it is more about the players than it is about me,” said Williams-Flournoy. “Right now it is at a point where it is more exciting for the players to get their wins, to get their confidence, to get their first this or first that because the more we can get them to believe in themselves and believe in what we are doing, the more it will benefit us.”
More importantly, in a win in which the Tigers forced 20 turnovers and held the Razorbacks to 17 points below their previous season-low, the players saw Williams-Flournoy’s defense-first approach work against a good SEC team.
“It helps me to yell at them even more to make them do it right because they understand the importance of doing it right all the time and how effective it can be to help us win games,” said Williams-Flournoy.
In Missouri, Auburn will take on a team that put together an impress 11-3 non-conference mark before falling to 10th-ranked Georgia, 77-46, in the team’s first-ever SEC game. Auburn will have to be aware of the three-point shot against the Tigers as Missouri has hit nearly 100 more than Auburn on the season.
“Missouri has a lot of three-point shooters,” said Williams-Flournoy. “Just like UT-Chattanooga and Samford that we have guarded in our last non-conference games, this is a Missouri team with good three-point shooters. They are good three-point shooters from one through four so for me it always comes back to our defense and how we handle that.”
The Missouri Tigers have been tough at home this season, posting a 10-0 record at Mizzou Arena. Of Missouri’s two losses, two have come on the road while the other two were in Cancun, Mexico.
The Tigers are led by Bri Kulas, averaging 14.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. Morgan Eye is adding 12.9 points per game, including shooting 44.5 percent from beyond the arc, while Sydney Crafton averages 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Point guard Lianna Doty leads the team with 4.7 assists per game.
Senior forward Blanche Alverson is closing in on the 1,000 points scored mark as an Auburn player.
Auburn is off to the team’s best start since opening the 2008-09 season 14-0. The Tigers are averaging a 21.3-point margin of victory in their 12 wins. Three Tigers are averaging double figures, led by Hasina Muhammad with 16.1 per game, including four 20-point games after her first career double-double at George Washington.
Tyrese Tanner is at 12.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while Blanche Alverson comes in with 11.5 points and 5.6 boards per game.
Center Peyton Davis leads the team in the post, averaging 6.9 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. Najat Ouardad is tops in the SEC and 14th in the country in assists with 6.5 per game while scoring 5.6 points per game.
Muhammad continued her SEC-long 16-game double-digit scoring streak with 13 points against Arkansas. Even with her streak and the fact that she is the team’s leading scorer, Williams-Flournoy is looking for more out of the sophomore.
“She scored a silent 13 points against Arkansas, I did not even know that she was in double figures until the game was over because I thought she just played okay,” said Williams-Flournoy. “I thought she took a few bad shots, but for Hasina it is a matter of making sure she knows exactly where she fits in the offense and how we can help her create shots for herself. Arkansas did a good job of guarding her, which made her have to think a little more and she took a few bad shots out of that. Every day she has got to get better.”
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