Coming off a stellar second half performance in beating Florida on the road this week, the Crimson Tide laid an egg and lost to Missouri by a score of 92-86 on Saturday. Bama fell to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in the SEC while the Tigers improved to 7-7 and 1-1 in conference. Missouri missed their mid-week game with a Covid outbreak and played without two key players today.
Missouri entered the game with a Net rank of 242 and a KenPom rating of 161 while Alabama came in with a 19 Net and a 16 KenPom. Given all of that the Tide was a 13.5 point favorite to win the game. What was not counted on was that one of the worst shooting teams in the country would blister the nets in the game. The Tigers showed that even terrible shooting teams can knock down shots when they are wide open looks.
Coach Nate Oats stuck with the starting five of Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, Charles Bediako, and Juwan Gary to begin the game. Very uncharacteristically Oats also opened the game playing zone defense. The Tide has played zone very infrequently during the Oats era. The move didn't work out-at all- and Missouri opened the game with a 9-0 run. The score and results pushed Oats to pull Bediako for Noah Gurley after just three minutes of action. The Tigers went bigger than usual with two guards out of today’s game and the Tide did not look to be ready.
JD Davison also entered the game early and he and Shack led a charge back by the Tide. Davison hit two straight three point shots to give Bama a 20-19 lead with just over eight minutes left in the stanza. Ellis, on his 22nd birthday, hit a three and the Tide had built a five point margin with 5:45 left. With 1:01 remaining in the half Bama looked to have taken control with a 43-35 lead. Sloppy play and defense allowed the Tigers to close the half on a 5-0 run to close within three at 43-40 at halftime.
In the first half the Tide shot 17-32 for 53% including 6-12 from deep and made 3-5 free throws. Missouri was at 48% on 15-31 including 5-13 for 39% from three, 5-7 from the free throw line and outrebounded the Tide 21-13. The Tigers entered the game making only five long range shots per game. Quinerly and Shackelford both had 10 points and Davison tallied eight in the half.
In the second half it only took Missouri two minutes to take the lead at 48-45 and they never relinquished it the rest of the game. With 12:42 left the margin had become 61-51, meaning the Tide had scored eight points in the first 7:18 of the period. Over the next two minutes the Tigers ran away from Bama and held a 72-54 lead with 10:38 left. From that point on the Tide outscored the Tigers 32-20 to actually give themselves a slim chance at the end of the game.
A key sequence came with six plus minutes left and down 10 when Ellis missed a three and Missouri rebounded an drained a long range shot of their own. What could have been a seven point game was all of a sudden back to a 13 point deficit. The Tide kept battling but couldn't make the plays needed to dig themselves out of such a big hole. Shackelford missed a three pointer while down six with 40 seconds left. Bama had to start fouling after misses and the Tigers were making their freebies. Ellis nailed a three with 30 second left to cut the lead to 86-81 and when Missouri turned the ball over right away hope was alive. However, Quinerly got stripped and the Tigers had a runout basket. Shackelford immediately made a long three to make it 88-84 with 15 seconds left. Missouri gave the Tide one more brief glimpse of hope when they missed two free throws, but the long rebound was knocked out of bounds by Bama and MU closed out the unlikely 92-86 win.
The Tide shot 16-35 for 46% in the second but only 3-12 from three and made 8-11 free throws. For the game the team shot 33-67 for 49%, 9-24 for 38% from three, made 11-16 free throws for 69%, had 31 rebounds. 15 assists, six steals, six blocks, and only seven turnovers. Missouri shot 16-32 in the second including 4-11 from deep and 16-20 from the stripe. Overall the Tigers were 31-63 for 49%, also 9-24 from three, 21-27 from the free throw line for 78%, had a huge 43 rebounds, 19 assists, four steals, five blocks, and 10 turnovers.
Individually Quinerly led the way with 19 points on 9-13 shooting (0-2 from three) mostly on drives to the basket, adding four assists, and five rebounds. Shackelford was 5-15, 3-8, and scored 17 with three blocked shots. Davison played one of his better games and scored 13 on 5-8 shooting with a team leading seven rebounds, and four assists, with only one turnover in 25 impressive minutes. Ellis scored 12 points and had four steals, but had a team worst +/- of -18. Gurley had nine points and a +/- of +10, while Davison had a +10 mark.
This was a very disappointing loss with poor effort for 30 plus minutes of game time. Take away the run at the end and this was as bad as the Tide has played under Oats, with one of the worst losses in his tenure. The team has to start playing tougher or the SEC schedule will eat them up. There is no excuse for the lack of rebounding and defensive intensity. On top of that the team has not shot well since the Gonzaga game. Shooting will typically come and go, but it has been gone for the majority of the season for the Tide. Defensively Bama allowed 1.31 points per possession, by far the worst since Oats has been in Tuscaloosa. Missouri came into the game averaging 65 points per game and scorched the Tide for 92, tying Memphis for the most allowed by Alabama this season.
Of course Oats was not happy after the game and mentioned that “we told the guys this game was a leadership and maturity test, and we failed badly in that regard.” The coach went on to say “we have to get some leadership. get them motivated to play harder”, and “this is a disappointing loss and we have to look ourselves in the eye and maybe play some other guys more minutes.” Oats continued “they played harder than we did, this might have been our worst defensive effort of the season.” Narrator- it was, most likely the worst in Oats’ three years with the Tide.
Things don't get easy from here. One of the hottest teams in the county, the Auburn Tigers, come to Tuscaloosa for a game at 8 p.m on Tuesday. AU is a top 10 team and playing like it. The game will be shown on ESPN. The Tide will need to fasten their chinstraps for this one.