The Gators women’s basketball team is hoping to get their first conference win of the season this weekend.
Florida (4-12) started SEC play on Jan. 3 but has suffered losses to Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina. On Sunday, they will be at home to take on Missouri (14-3).
No matter the adversity, this group sticks together. Excited to get better & prepare for another SEC challenge @ home Sunday afternoon (3pm) vs Mizzou. You can watch it on @SECNetwork too! pic.twitter.com/If1Vb6tCfA
— Cameron Newbauer (@camnew) January 11, 2019
With a win versus the Tigers, head coach Cameron Newbauer’s group would have their first victory at the O’Dome since they beat Charleston Southern last month.
Stopping Cunningham and Smith
A positive sign for Florida is that their upcoming opponent doesn’t put up a large number of points.
Missouri is only averaging 66.7 points per game with two players averaging at least 10 points a contest. Those two players, however, will present problems for the Gators to handle defensively.
Prior to the Tigers’ win against Arkansas on Thursday, Sophie Cunningham and Amber Smith were putting up a combined 30 points per game. Both of them shoot at least 46 percent from the field and 34 percent from behind the arc. On top of those impressive scoring numbers, they are the leading rebounders for their team this season.
Although UF will be playing in Gainesville, Missouri has been road warriors away from home. The team is 5-0 on the road this season, which was highlighted by a win at No. 10 Tennessee last weekend.
Florida has all four of their wins at home, which will be one of their biggest advantages on Sunday.
What went right vs. South Carolina
The Gators were not very competitive for a majority of their 71-40 loss versus South Carolina on Thursday. In the second quarter against the Gamecocks, however, Florida showed some potential.
Offensively, sophomore Kiara Smith knocked down two three-pointers and also got a layup to go. Redshirt junior Zada Williams scored four points and Funda Nakkasoglu got a basket to go as well.
Those 14 points by the Gators was a good response after a poor showing to start the game, but they also played stout defense in the quarter. They held South Carolina to just 13 points on 6 of 19 shooting from the field.
To come out victorious against Missouri, Florida will need to keep up that same defensive intensity for all 40 minutes.
HALFTIME | South Carolina 37, Florida 23
Gators fight back to outscore Gamecocks 14-13 in the second quarter and Kiki Smith is in double figures for 2nd-straight game with 10 at the break. pic.twitter.com/hHNIgEzM5u
— Gators Women’s Basketball (@GatorsWBK) January 11, 2019
Along with playing stellar basketball on the defensive end, Florida’s offense will be challenged against the Tigers. Missouri is allowing just over 56 points per game on under 36 percent shooting from the field. They are also solid on the perimeter, with their opponents shooting just over 27 percent from three-pointers.
The Gators head into this game shooting 36.8 percent overall and 30.3 percent from behind the arc.
Tipoff for Sunday’s game at the O’Connell Center is scheduled for 3 p.m.
ESPN 98.1 FM – 850 AM WRUF will have coverage of this SEC matchup.