Missouri women’s basketball ranked No. 16 in preseason AP Top 25 poll

This is the second time the Tigers have been ranked in the preseason Top 25 since 1984.

Sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham, 3, takes a shot during the home game facing UT Martin in 2017. Maneater File Photo

With just over a week remaining before Missouri women’s basketball tips off its season in Iowa City, Iowa, Tigers fans now know where their team stands on the national landscape.

Missouri was ranked No. 16 in the country in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll released Thursday morning. The ranking matches the Tigers’ standing in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, which came out last week. Thursday’s AP poll has three Southeastern Conference teams in front of Missouri, with No. 4 South Carolina, No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 14 Tennessee ranked ahead of the Tigers.

For Missouri, the ranking marks the second time since 1984 that the Tigers have cracked the AP preseason top 25 after being ranked No. 24 entering last season.

The Tigers have also fared well in preseason conference selections. As a team, Missouri was picked to finish third in the SEC in a vote of the league's coaches, while three players were selected to preseason all-conference teams.

Junior guard Sophie Cunningham was named to the preseason All-SEC first team after leading the Tigers in scoring last season.

Selected to the preseason All-SEC second team were junior Cierra Porter and redshirt senior Jordan Frericks. Porter led the Tigers in rebounding last season with 8.1 RPG, while also averaging 13.2 points per game. Frericks missed the entire 2016-17 season after suffering an ACL tear in her right knee during the preseason. In 2015-16, Frericks registered seven double-doubles while averaging 12.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, earning her a spot on the All-SEC second team that year.

After winning 22 games and earning a fourth-place finish in the SEC last season, the Tigers return a number of key players from the 2016-17 roster in addition to the preseason All-SEC honorees. Sophomore guard Amber Smith showed a propensity for scoring in her freshman year, putting up at least eight points in 11 games while shooting just over 45 percent from the field. Forward Hannah Schuchts and guard Jordan Chavis also contributed off the bench for Missouri last season and will see more playing time this year.

In losing Lindsey Cunningham, Lianna Doty and Sierra Michaelis to graduation, the Tigers are without three of their top six scorers from last season and will have to rely on production from new faces in order to replace their contributions. Frericks will provide offense in her return, and the guards entering their second season will all be relied on for points.

Missouri’s first opportunity to justify its No. 16 ranking comes next Friday when the Tigers battle the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers as part of the Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa City, Iowa, at 2:30 p.m.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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