Although it is one of women's basketball's most recent rivalries, it is certainly a fierce one that all fans have had circled on their calendars for months.
Last year, when the Missouri women's basketball team traveled to South Carolina, it resulted in a small fight, plenty of controversy and even a lawsuit. I won't get into the details, there is no sense in debating who was right oe who was wrong and if you're reading this, you probably already know what went down and have your own opinion.
The truth is, both schools have made it a point to put it in the past.
So what can we expect from this fierce matchup tonight besides added security and detailed instructions for fans to behave? Let's dive into some of the key points for this exciting matchup between two very good teams.
South Carolina holds a 5-3 series edge over Missouri and are 3-0 at home having never lost at home to them. But Missouri has played exceptionally well on the road with the few away games they have played at 5-1, it doesn't get any tougher of an environment headed into Colonial Life Arena. This will be an ultimate test for Robin Pingeton's Missouri squad on the road in terms of mental toughness.
Last year when the two met up, they split. Missouri beat South Carolina at home 83-74 on January 7th in a hot shooting performance. The Gamecocks returned the favor on their own home court just a few weeks later on January 28th in a 64-54 win.
Missouri is known for their grit, physicality and toughness on the defensive end of the floor. After 19 games, they are holding their opponents to 55.2 points per game and out rebounding teams by close to five per game. They rank second in the SEC in field goal percentage defense and scoring defense.
At times, Missouri can struggle to score and are currently 10th in the SEC averaging 65.8 points per game. South Carolina allows 63.4 points per game to their opponents.
Offensively, Missouri is led by senior guard Sophie Cunningham who averages 15.5 points per game. Cunningham's style of play causes frustration within opposing teams, shes physical, she's passionate and unless shes on your team, you probably don't like her. And she wants it that way. Amber Smith has elevated her game this season for Missouri as she averages 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.
South Carolina ranks 5th in the SEC averaging 74.8 points per game. It is led by guard Te'a Cooper at 13 points per game. Junior point guard Tyasha Harris averages 10 points per game and holds one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country at 2.8 ranking at sixteenth.
Neither team has a true dominant post presence inside, this is a guard heavy matchup that comes to the defensive end of the floor and which team can execute more effectively deep into the shot clock to get their high percentage shots.
This is a toughness game shown from an execution standpoint, rebounding, getting to the free throw line and being able to generate consistent stops and capitalizing on them.
The game will be aired on ESPN2 as a part of Big Monday action at 7:00pm ET.