Mizzou sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham (Columbia, Mo.) was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, announced Tuesday by the league office. It’s Cunningham’s second weekly honor this season and the eighth of her career after earning SEC Freshman of the Week six times last season. Senior guard Sierra Michaelis and freshman guard Amber Smith have also received weekly awards from the league in 2016-17 for Mizzou, securing Co-Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week honors, respectively.
Cunningham led Mizzou to a pair of dramatic wins over Florida and No. 6 South Carolina, averaging 27.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The two performances marked the second time this season Cunningham has scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games. She’s reached 20 points eight times this season and 18 times in her career. Cunningham has scored in double figures in six consecutive games as Mizzou has won three in a row and eight of its past 11 contests.
Mizzou launched the week with a gritty 74-67 road win over Florida. Cunningham poured in a game-high 28 points, accounting for 44 percent of Mizzou’s scoring output. The sophomore shot 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Her six unanswered points in the fourth quarter erased a deficit and catapulted Mizzou ahead for good as the Tigers sealed a road victory.
On Sunday, Mizzou toppled No. 6 South Carolina in front of a raucous crowd as Cunningham recorded a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting (62.5 percent). On the Tigers’ final offensive possession, Cunningham took on multiple defenders, drove through lane and buried a game-winning layup with 0.6 seconds left to lift her squad to an upset over the three-time defending SEC champions.
Cunningham added seven rebounds and five assists in an all-around effort. She has racked up at least 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists on six different occasions this season. Cunningham scored 20 of her 28 points in the second half, making 8-of-11 field goals. Her clutch performance allowed Mizzou to come back from down 10 and earn its biggest victory of the 2016-17 campaign.
Cunningham is the only player in the SEC shooting above 45 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. She’s averaging 17.2 points per game this season, which ranks fourth in the league.