Aijha Blackwell is back.
The star guard, who was not part of Missouri women’s basketball anger at South Carolina’s No.1 last week due to COVID-19 protocols, was on the field for warm-ups before the second SEC game of the season against Auburn (8-4, 0-1 SEC) on Thursday. The contest airs on SEC Network Plus starting at 7:00 p.m. Central time.
Blackwell leads Missouri in points (16.6 points per game) and rebounds (12.7). The 6-foot goalie shoots more defensive rebounds than any player in the country (10.7) and ranks second in doubles-doubles, registering nine in 13 games.
With Blackwell and others absent, Mizzou (12-2, 1-0 SEC) only had eight players available in the upset against the Gamecocks. More MU players tested positive for COVID over the weekend, forcing the team to postpone a game at Vanderbilt scheduled for last Sunday.
Almost all of the key players who were absent in the last game were on the pitch for warm-ups ahead of Thursday’s game. However, one notable absence was Haley Troup, who has started custody in every game this season. She averages 7.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. Redshirt rookie Skylah Travis was also not seen with the rest of the squad.
While Blackwell’s return will surely help matters, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton’s side face difficult circumstances against Auburn. As per health and safety protocols, Missouri has only been able to host one official practice in the past six days – on Wednesday, the day before the game.
âIt’s definitely a challenge,â Pingeton said Wednesday. âPart of our motto this year is also E + R = O. Events are going to happen and how we respond to them will dictate or strongly determine the outcome. â¦ And so we just have to control what we can control and understand that these are the cards that have been dealt, we have to manage them and keep our mind in a good space.
This story was originally published January 6, 2022 6:22 pm.