On paper, Missouri had a clear advantage over Mississippi State, especially when it came to the 3-point line.
At an average of 2.9 3-pointers made per game, Mississippi State’s totals seemed like pocket change compared to Missouri’s average of 9.1 baskets made from long range.
But the game is not played on paper. And Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer knew what his players were coming into.
“They took a scouting report from my staff and really just did a great job taking away what Missouri likes to do,” Schaefer said, referring to Missouri’s taste for 3-pointers.
And take away they did. In a 61-56 victory on Sunday at Mizzou Arena, the Mississippi State Bulldogs held Missouri to just 3-of-20 from 3-point land, a feat uncharacteristic of a team that averages 11 3-pointers made per game at home.
“I think that's their strength,” Schaefer said, with specific regard to Missouri guard Morgan Eye’s 3-point shooting. “We tried to be there on the pass with (Eye). If you're there on the catch you might be too late. So we tried to be there on the pass, and really guard the arc.”
Despite the Bulldogs’ aggressive perimeter defense, Eye did manage to convert two of her 10 attempts. In doing so, she broke Missouri’s school record for 3-pointers made in a single season, surpassing Alyssa Hollins’ record of 90 from the 2007-08 season and setting 92 as the new record high.
Mississippi State isn’t the only team that has taken notice of Missouri’s predilection for the 3-point shot.
When Tennessee visited Mizzou Arena last week, lack of execution on defending the 3-point shot was a paramount factor that led to its loss. Tennessee senior forward Taber Spani said her team’s failure to “follow the game plan” and defend the 3-point line sparked Missouri in its upset victory over the No. 9 Lady Volunteers.
“We know that they shoot great, especially in their home gym,” Tennessee senior forward Taber Spani said. “No one shoots the ball like them that I’ve played against in four years.”
Eye’s cumulative success from behind the arc over the course of the season has also propelled the Tigers toward a new team record. Including Sunday’s total of three 3-pointers made, Missouri has tallied 212 this season, only two away from tying the current single season record.
The Southeastern Conference record for 3-pointers made in a season stands at 248, set by South Carolina in 1994. With six games remaining in the regular season, Missouri would have to average 5.5 3-pointers per game to break that mark.
Before Sunday’s showing, that didn’t seem like such a lofty goal. But Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton said she’s not worried about her team’s shooting for upcoming games.
“We’re not going to talk about missing shots,” Pingeton said. “Our kids shoot the ball extremely well, and we’re not going to pull the reins on them.”
Shooting guards Morgan Eye and Liene Priede will continue to have the green light when it comes to firing 3-pointers, Pingeton said.
The Tigers missed 17 3’s in the last game, but Pingeton said the team has bigger concerns.
“I think it’s not so much how we shot from the 3-point line,” Pingeton said. “I am going to go back to our turnovers and our missed layups. That really tells the story of the game."