The resurgent Alabama Crimson Tide had a gutty, impressive 88-74 win over the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum. Suffering no letdown after dominating the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday, they had little trouble taming the Tigers from the Show Me state. The Tide improved to 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the conference with their seventh win in the last 10 games. Mizzou fell to 9-8, 1-4 in league play. Bama started Kira Lewis, John Petty, Alex Reese, Herbert Jones, and Jaden Shackelford, their best lineup, in the game.
The game started off slowly, with Missouri taking an early lead at 7-6, their last lead of the game. Reese was hot right out of the shoot for the Tide, scoring the team’s first six points, and nine of their first 13. The Tigers could not buy a field goal, but in an amazing performance, could not miss a free throw. With Doug Shows and company calling the Tide for seemingly breathing on the opponent, the visitors took 21 first half freebies and made them all.
The Tide would push out to an eight to 10 point lead, only to have the Tigers get to the foul line to close the gap. At the break Bama had a 47-40 lead, and Reese had 15 points after hitting four first half three pointers.
In the first half the Tide shot 16-33 for 48%, including 11-25 (44%) from the three point line, and 4-7 for 57% from the free throw line. The Tigers couldn't throw the ball in the ocean from the field, going 8-24 (33%) with 2-11 from deep, but kept in the game with their perfect marksmanship on their 21 free throw attempts.
The second half opened up along the same lines, with the Tide keeping a 10-12 point lead, until a terrible charge call was made on Lewis. The Tide bench, most think on assistant coach Bryan Hodgson, was called for a technical foul, and of course the Tigers made both the shots. Missouri made a run, fueled by hitting a couple of threes and a few more free throws to cut the margin to 63-60 with 11:26 left in the game. Lewis and Jones were in foul trouble, as was Beetle Bolden. With 9:36 left, Lewis was called for another questionable charge, and had to go to the bench with his fourth foul.
Bolden drew his fifth, in only eight minutes of action, with 9:06 left on a call where he held his arms straight up and made no contact with the shooter. After the free throws, which made the Tigers 31-31, the score stood at 71-68, and Jones and Lewis had to be called back to action. Petty, Shackelford, Jones, and Lewis closed the game out on a 17-6 run, and the Tide had another impressive double digit conference win.
In the second frame the Tide cooled to 9-23 for 39%, and 2-14 from deep, but sucked it up to nail 21-23 free throws. Missouri shot even worse in the half, 11-37 for 29%, 2-11 from three point range, but 10-10 from the free throw line. For the game the Tide was 25-56 for 44%, 13-39 for 39% from three, and 25-30 (83%) from three free throw line. The Tigers set an SEC record with their 31-31 free throw shooting, falling short of the NCAA record of 34-34. Field goal shooting killed the Tigers as they finished only 19-61 (31%), and 5-25 from the three point line. Bama had 39 rebounds, 18 assists, 14 turnovers, five blocks, and seven steals. The Tigers had 36 rebounds, only six assists, 13 turnovers, and seven steals.
Individually the Tide was led by Petty with 20 points on 6-12 shooting, including 4-10 from deep. The junior also grabbed six rebounds in 36 minutes of action. Reese finished with 17 points, shooting 6-10, 4-8 from deep and added five rebounds. Shackelford tossed in 17 points with three makes from deep and 4-4 from the charity stripe, and had three rebounds and three assists. Jones continued his stellar play with yet another double-double, scoring 11 points and leading the team with 12 rebounds, scoring in double figures despite only taking three shots from the field, making 7-8 from the free throw line. Jones added three assists, three steals, a block (and one he got robbed of), and drew three charges. Coach Nate Oats said after the game that Jones earned his 10th “Hard Hat” award of the season by accounting for 39 effort points. Lewis wasn't the offensive force he was against Auburn, but had a fine game with 10 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Bolden made the most of his eight minutes on the floor - he missed several minutes after a hard fall on a drive to the basket- by scoring eight points in his short stint.
Folks, this is a good basketball team that Nate Oats is building. He tried to let people know, and apparently he knows what he is talking about. Despite the season ending injuries to what would have been three key players, the team has come together as they have learned the system better. Players that are able to play have been dealing with injuries of their own. Jones’ arm injury in the first game of the year has improved, and his play has as well, from not having any double-doubles in his first two years to having four in the Tide’s last six games. Reese has fought a hip and ankle injury and Bolden plays so hard he always seems to be beat up, from the wrist issue he has fought to the back injury he had today.
The crowd of 11,000 was engaged and loud for the team today, coming out despite a dreary, rainy day in Tuscaloosa, following up the raucous sell out crowd that came out Wednesday when the Tide blasted the Barn.
Up next is a Wednesday night trip to the house of horrors, Memorial Gym in Nashville, to play the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is at 8 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network. After that the Tide welcomes Kansas State to Tuscaloosa at 5 p.m. on Saturday the 25th.
Roll Tide, #BallAndOats
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