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Preview: Surging Florida Women’s Basketball Hosts Missouri

The Florida women’s basketball team hosts Missouri on Thursday night, as they look to continue the momentum gained from back-to-back victories over Arkansas at home and on the road at Alabama.

Florida

The Gators come into the game riding high, having won their last two and three out of their last five games. They currently hold a record of 13-12, including a 4-8 conference record.

Florida’s defense turned in a a performance against Ole Miss that drew criticism from head coach Amanda Butler. Since then, the Gators have been on fire defensively, allowing an average of 54.5 points on 34.75% shooting from the field. This includes an impressive 21.1% three-point shooting mark against, resulting from the fact that, Butler said, her team’s been doing a better job of knowing their individual jobs on the defensive end.

One thing the Gators haven’t struggled with and have continued to do well is rebounding. They lead the SEC in offensive rebounds, and out-rebounded Alabama on Saturday 50-30, a huge advantage on the boards that led to their third road conference win of the season.

Offensively, Sydney Morang has found her touch from three-point range as of late. She’s shooting 47.6% from downtown on 10 of 21 shooting over her past three games, including going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc against Alabama. Butler said that her emergence has improved the flow of the offense and has helped other shooters find their stroke during games.

Delicia Washington has also been a freshman who’s made her mark on this team. She won SEC Freshman of the Week again after putting up a double-double against Alabama.

Missouri

Meanwhile, the Tigers enter the game as one of the better teams in the SEC, sitting in fifth place in the conference standings with a 17-9 record and a 7-5 record in the SEC.

Shooting guard Sophie Cunningham leads the way for the Tigers on offense, scoring 16.9 points per game, placing her in the top 10 in the conference. According to Missouri’s media guide, Cunningham is the only player in the conference who is shooting above 45 percent from the field (46.4) and over 80 percent from the foul line (83.6).

Missouri loves to live life from beyond the arc. They rank second in the SEC in made three-pointers and rank third in three-point percentage, shooting them at a clip of 33.9%.

When teams focus on the three-point shooting, it opens space for their go-to player down low, forward Cierra Porter. Butler said that while Missouri is a great three-point shooting team, it takes away some of the focus on their great team defense and the great play of Porter. Porter has 10 double-doubles on the season, while averaging just over 14 points and eight rebounds per game. She’s been Missouri’s most consistent player in terms of scoring, putting up double digits in 22 of 26 games this season.

You can hear the game live tonight at 6:45pm on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF.

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