The 4th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team defeated Missouri 85-64 on Saturday in Columbia, MO. CoMo has been another “house of horrors” for Bama basketball over the years, and in fact this was Coach Nate Oats’ first win in Columbia. It was actually the first time a ranked Alabama team has ever beaten Mizzou on the road. And, the scary part is, the Tide didn’t even shoot very well for the game but still posted a 20+ road win in the conference: There are simply too many weapons on this roster, and even nights when the shots won’t fall, Alabama is cruising to ho-hum beatdowns
Alabama improved to 17-2 overall, 7-0 in the SEC, and 6-0 in true road games, has won eight games by 20 points or more, and has a 21 point of margin in SEC games. Second-ranked Kansas lost twice this week so ‘Bama should climb in the rankings.
Oats started his usual five in Mark Sears, Jaden Bradley, Noah Clowney, Charles Bediako, and Brandon Miller. Missouri announced just prior to the game that their All-SEC forward, Kobe Brown, would miss the game with an ankle injury. Meanwhile the Tide got injured guard Nimari Burnett back from his wrist injury.
The Tide jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead behind Clowney and Miller before the Tigers made a run to take a lead of 14-13 with 9:43 left. Neither team could connect from long range, and were a combined 1-20 with just six minutes left in the half. Sears hit two from the free throw line with 6:19 left to put the Tide back in front 20-19. Three pointers by Rylan Griffen and Jahvon Quinerly along with free throw shooting from Sears and Miller helped put Bama ahead 38-28 at the break.
In the first half the Tide shot 12-31 for 39% including just 3-17 from the arc for 17% and made 11-15 free throws for 73%. The team had 25 rebounds, two assists, and seven turnovers after the first stanza. Miller had nine points and four boards, Sears had nine points, two assists, and four rebounds, and Clowney was closing in on a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds. Missouri shot even worse than the Tide at 11-32 for 34%, 1-12 for 8% from deep and 5-7 from the line. The Tigers had 19 rebounds, two assists, and six turnovers.
With Missouri playing small, Oats replaced Bediako with Dom Welch to begin the second half. The Tide quickly took control. Clowney, Sears, and Miller all scored early and the lead was up to 51-34 after a Miller long range bomb with 15:30 left. It was mentioned on the broadcast that Miller is shooting 63% on uncontested three point attempts on the season.
Quinerly started to get his groove going, hitting a couple more three’s, as well as scoring in the lane. With the score 61-40 the Tigers went on a run to cut the margin down to 13 with 8:38 left in the game. The Tide went on a dry spell, but with 4:10 left, the lead was still at 16, and Bama coasted home from there for the 21 point win.
In the second half the Tide shot 13-37 for 35% including 7-18 from the arc for 39% and 14-17 from the line for 82%. Overall the team shot 35-68 for 37%, 10-35 for 29% from three and 25-32 for 78% from the charity stripe. Bama grabbed 53 rebounds, 16 on the offensive end, had 12 assists, one block, five steals, and 11 turnovers. Clowney earned both player of the game and hard hat award for his 17 points and 14 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Sears added 17 points of his own with eight rebounds, and three assists. Miller had a quite 15 point, eight rebound game. Quinerly joined the trio in double digits with 13 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Griffen hit 3-6 from deep for nine points in one of his better games of the year. Bradley contributed eight points, three rebounds, and three assists. The Tide went small for much of the game and Bediako only played 16 minutes, Noah Gurley saw six minutes of time, and Nick Pringle didn't see the floor at all.
Missouri shot 12-38 for 31% in the second with 2-16 from three and made 10-12 free throws. Overall the Tigers shot 23-70 for 33%, 3-28 from long range for 11%, and made 15-19 free throws for 79%. MU finished with 45 rebounds, seven assists, six steals, eight blocks, and 10 turnovers. Isiah Mosley led the way with 19 points and DeAndre Gholston joined him in double figures with 10 points.
Another impressive win on the road for the Tide, their second of the week in two gyms Alabama has historically struggled in. After the events of last Sunday, for the team to go on the road, in two tough places to play, and take double digit victories in both games says a lot about the players, coaches, and staff. Bama didn't shoot well but the defended their asses off, hit the boards, and kept their composure.
The Tigers had been 3-0 in SEC play at home, and even without Brown were a formidable opponent. After the game Oats said that “defense won this game for us, although we did give up some blow bys, and didn’t rebound as well as I would have liked.” Oats praised Griffen’s play saying that, “Rylan hit a big three to stop a rally for them, we just need him to get better on defense and in rebounding.”
Oats is slowly trying to work Welch into the mix, and he played his longest stint of the season with 15 minutes tonight. Burnett, who started the first nine games of the year before his wrist injury, saw a little over five minutes of time. Quinerly is still just seven months removed from ACL surgery and the fact that he has played in 17 of the 19 games is remarkable. If 2021 SEC Tournament MVP Quinerly reappears this team would look unstoppable. Clowney has played himself into a first round pick, and Miller is clearly a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. In fact, one B/R mock has Clowney as high as 10th, going to the Lakers.
It’s fair to say, rankings and an early season defensive funk aside, the rest of the SEC is probably chasing the Tide at the moment.
How large is that gap?
Honestly, it may depend on who has the home court. Tennessee is ranked above the Tide in KenPom, and Auburn is a KenPom top 15 teams. Are they the second tier? Is there even a second tier, or is there a jumble at the top in the first tier? The blowouts have been nice, but the standings gap is negligible. Those teams have only one conference loss each, and Alabama plays them four times down the stretch — three on the road. Kentucky seems to have turned their season around, now sit at 4-3 and will be dangerous down the stretch. Of the last 12 games on the schedule the visit to Knoxville on February 15th is likely the only time the Tide won't be favored.
This week, the Tide hosts Mississippi State on Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT in a SEC Network game. On Saturday, ‘Bama will travel to Norman, OK to take on the Porter Moser’s struggling Sooners in the SEC-Big12 Challenge at 1 p.m. CT in a game to be shown on ESPN. Despite their record, don’t take OU lightly. They have been in almost every game this year, and have just been unable to close it out late in what has been by far the nation’s best conference.
Build the Damn Arena, Greg