MSU women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer shouts from court side. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Missouri women's basketball team has a player that certainly has an "Eye" for the basket.
Sophomore Morgan Eye leads the Tigers by scoring 13.9 points per game and is the best 3-point field goal shooter in the nation by hitting 3.9 per outing from long range.
Defending Eye is the next challenge for the Mississippi State Bulldogs today as they have made the trip to Columbia, Mo., for a game against one of the newcomers of the Southeastern Conference.
One week ago, Missouri made a statement of how tough it can be in the SEC, especially at home, by knocking off the Tennessee Lady Volunteers 80-63 at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers have records of 15-8 overall and 4-5 in the league.
"They have a lot of confidence right now and also had a week off like us," MSU women's coach Vic Schaefer said. "(Missouri coach) Robin (Pingeton) has done a great job with that team, and it's a challenge we have to be ready for."
The Bulldogs look to continue the type of defense they showed in pulling off a 47-44 victory over Arkansas at home last Sunday.
MSU held the Razorbacks to 14 points on five field goals in the first half. Arkansas only shot 32.1 percent from the field for the game.
There have been times where the Bulldogs have given Schaefer the type of defensive effort he's been desiring, but he knows with a young team, there will continue to be bumps in the road as it learns and grows.
"It's like being a plumber," Schaefer said. "You get two or three of those leaks fixed and you have a fourth leak. It might be Martha (Alwal) standing behind in the post. It's a leak and I feel like a plumber on some days.
"(Against Arkansas) We got the ball pressure, got the wing denial back to the point, then we have a post player standing behind down there. It's a process.
"We agonized over every defensive possession because that's just the way we are. We might stub our toe, but that's who we are."
With the success against the Razorbacks, Schaefer now has the proof that what he and his staff are trying to instill at MSU can work.
"It gives you some credibility when you are out there trying to teach them to play that hard and they've never played that hard before," Schaefer said. "It's not what we do, but how we do it. That's what will separate us.
"(Last Sunday) they put it into action and they can see it. For a day, they've got to see it and know this is why my staff and I prepare 15-page scouting reports, talk and go through things for three days on how to guard and what (opponents) are going to do. This is why we do what we do."
It won't take Schaefer and his staff long to find our the strength of Missouri in the scouting report.
Not only does Eye shoot well, but the Tigers are fourth in the SEC at 34 percent from 3-point range and pace the conference by hitting 9.1 shots from long range per outing.
MSU will try to counter that with its inside-outside sophomore duo of Kendra Grant and Martha Alwal.
Grant scores 12.4 points per game to lead the Bulldogs, while Alwal achieved her league-leading 11th double-double of the season against Arkansas with 14 points and 12 rebounds.Â
After Schaefer gave his players a couple of days off during the midweek, they practiced Thursday, Friday and Saturday in getting ready for Missouri.
MSU, which stands at 10-12 overall and 2-7 in the SEC, was able to feed off the positive result of last weekend and Schaefer said it's much deserved.
"There's not anybody in the country that works harder than those kids," Schaefer said. "They work their tail off at practice every day. I'm proud to be their coach. I'm happy they are earning some credibility and some victories with their hard work."
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