Alabama went on the road Saturday in search of their first road victory of the season, and instead got run out of the gym in the second half by the Missouri Tigers. The Tide trailed only 31-30 at the half, but managed a paltry 17 second half points while giving up 37.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead before 'Bama could dent the score board. Despite All-SEC point guard Trevor Releford struggling against the bigger guards of Missouri in their zone defense, scoring but four first-half points, the team was able to patch together enough offense to swap the lead back and forth for the last few minutes of the half. Missouri scored in the last few seconds to carry a one point lead into to intermission. 'Bama shot 40% (10-25) in the first half and 36.4% (4-11) from three point range. If only they could have kept that "hot" shooting going in the second half.
Missouri came out with new energy in the second half, outscoring the Tide 12-2 in the first two minutes of the frame. From there things went from bad to worse. The Tigers poured it on and stretched the lead to as much as 23 points. The Tide never could get anything resembling a rhythm going and only made four field goals in the second half, three of those by Releford. The only other field goal in the half was a late three-pointer by Shannon Hale.
Hale led the team with 12 points, Retin Obasohan had 11 and Levi Randolph and Releford both had 10. 'Bama was an abysmal 4-23 in the second half and 14-48 (29.2%) for the game, including 5-20 (25%) from three point range. Missouri shot 42.6% from the field and 30% from behind the arc. Once again the free throw line was a thorn in the Tide's side, as the Tigers were 25-34 from the stripe vs. 'Bama's 14-22. The big three for the Tigers- Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross and Jordan Clarkson- came into the game averaging 50 points per game and tallied 52 combined in this one. Johnathan Williams added nine points and a game high 14 rebounds. Freshman Jimmie Taylor gathered a career high eight rebounds to lead the Tide on the boards. The rebound battle ended in a 36-36 tie, the only category that saw 'Bama hold their own.
It is hard to find any positives in this performance from the Tide, but we will try. Taylor showed some glimpses of what he is capable of with his work on the boards and added a couple of blocked shots in 30 minutes of action. Unfortunately he only managed two points, though those points did come on a pretty jump hook that we need to see more of as he develops. Hale continued his double figure scoring in conference play and added five rebounds. He has seemingly found some consistency, scoring 12-14 points and grabbing five to six rebounds per game. That is about it for the positives.
On the negative side the shooting was atrocious. The interior defense was woeful. The Tide committed 15 turnovers while only forcing seven by the Tigers. Steals, which have been a big part of 'Bama's game, were limited to two, both by Hale. This was the first game when Releford and Obasohan didn't have multiple steals. Carl Engstrom continued his one decent game, followed by a game where he totally disappears. Engstrom started, played three minutes, got a rebound, committed a foul, got beat inside, and then was relegated to the bench for the rest of the game. Nick Jacobs played three minutes, fouled twice and missed his only shot before joining Engstrom on the bench.
The Tide falls to 8-9 on the season, 2-2 in the SEC. Missouri moves to 14-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. 'Bama is back in action on Thursday, January 23rd at 6 p.m. vs the very talented Florida Gators. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Roll Tide Y'all Roger