@MizzouWBB Picked Fifth in Preseason SEC Coaches Poll; Cunningham & Smith Earn Preseason All-SEC Honors

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Women’s Basketball was picked to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday by the league’s coaches, as the league office announced its 2018-19 SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Senior Sophie Cunningham (Columbia, Mo.) and junior Amber Smith (Shreveport, La.) each garnered All-SEC Preseason honors, as Cunningham was named to the Preseason First Team All-SEC and Smith to the Preseason Second Team All-SEC.

Mizzou was picked to finish fifth behind Mississippi State, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Each team picked ahead of the Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, with South Carolina making the Elite Eight and Mississippi State ending the season as the national runner-up. Mizzou was also tabbed to finish fifth in the SEC in the preseason media poll on Oct. 16.

Just like in the preseason media poll, Cunningham was one of three players to receive votes for the Preseason SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year award, which ended up going to Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan.

Cunningham was named Preseason All-SEC First Team for the third consecutive season. In 2017-18, Cunningham averaged 18.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as she earned AP All-America Honorable Mention honors for the second consecutive season. She was the only player in the nation to shoot better than 54 percent from the field (54.2 percent, 186-for-343), 45 percent from three (45.7 percent, 69-for-151) and 83 percent from the free throw line (83.6 percent, 133-for-159). Cunningham continue to climb up the Mizzou record book in her senior season, as she currently ranks No. 8 in all-time scoring (1,563 points), No. 4 in career 3-pointers made (153), No. 4 in PPG (16.6), No. 5 in free throws made (386), No. 3 in three-point percentage (.404), No. 3 in free throw percentage (.839) and No. 8 in field goal percentage (.508).

Smith, the 2016-17 SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, started all 32 games for Mizzou as a sophomore in 2017-18, averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Smith scored a career-high 27 points vs. LSU (Jan. 4) on 11-for-18 shooting from the field while grabbing seven rebounds. She grabbed five rebounds in 15 contests and corralled 10 rebounds in four games.

As a team last season, Mizzou earned a third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1984-86. Head Coach Robin Pingeton’s squad spent the entire season in the Top 25, ranking as high as No. 11 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches’ Poll, their highest ranking in that poll in program history.

 

Preseason Coaches’ Predictions

Order of Finish

  1. Mississippi State
  2. South Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. Tennessee
  5. Mizzou
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Kentucky
  8. Auburn
  9. LSU
  10. Alabama
  11. Arkansas
  12. Florida
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Ole Miss

 

Player of the Year

Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State

                       

First Team All-SEC

Caliya Robinson, Georgia

Maci Morris, Kentucky

Anriel Howard, Mississippi State

Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State

Sophie Cunningham, Mizzou

Tyasha Harris, South Carolina

Rennia Davis, Tennessee

Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M.

 

Second Team All-SEC

Malica Monk, Arkansas

Janiah McKay, Auburn

Unique Thompson, Auburn

Taylor Murray, Kentucky

Ayana Mitchel, LSU

Shandricka Sessom, Ole Miss

Amber Smith, Mizzou

Alexis Jennings, South Carolina

Evina Westbrook, Tennessee