Men’s basketball falls to Mizzou in ‘worst defensive performance of the year’

Missouri’s DaJuan Gordon and Alabama’s JD Davison fight for a loose ball in Alabama’s 92-86 loss at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO.

Courtesy of AP Photos

Missouri’s DaJuan Gordon and Alabama’s JD Davison fight for a loose ball in Alabama’s 92-86 loss at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Earlier this week, Alabama head coach Nate Oats said his team’s losses have been “haunting.” He will now have to add another to the list, as the No. 15 Alabama Crimson Tide fell to the SEC bottom-dweller Missouri Tigers 92-86 on Saturday afternoon.

Alabama is now 0-3 at Mizzou Arena under Oats, who is frustrated with his team after its fourth loss of the season to lesser teams.

“All four losses, we were favored in all of them,” Oats said. “Those are all good teams, but we’re a better team than them when we play our best game and they play their best game.”

Oats said Saturday’s game was “probably our worst defensive performance of the year.” The game was a test of his team’s leadership and maturity, “and we failed.” 

Forward Kobe Brown was unstoppable, finishing the game with 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers in 30 minutes.

“Nobody could guard Kobe Brown for us today,” Oats said.

He wasn’t alone, with guards Jarron Coleman, Javon Pickett and DaJuan Gordon combining for 48 points.

Missouri only recorded five bench points to Alabama’s 27, but in the end, it didn’t matter. The Tigers dominated the Crimson Tide on the glass, ending the game with a 43-31 advantage.

The Crimson Tide didn’t have trouble on the offensive end, getting production from all of its usual stars. Jahvon Quinerly scored 19, Jaden Shackelford dropped 17, and JD Davison had a bounce back game, adding 13 off the bench.

“Our offense didn’t lose us this game. We didn’t guard anybody. He [Davison] played hard. He led us in blue-collar points. I think some other guys on the team need to get back to playing as hard as they can.”

The problem lived on the defensive end, giving up bucket after bucket. Missouri shot 49% from the field and cashed in on 17 second chance points. The Tigers also held their own from beyond the arc, knocking down nine 3-pointers, compared to the five they average per game.

Missouri took advantage of its opportunities at the stripe. The Tigers sank 21 of their 27 attempts from the free-throw line, compared to Alabama shooting just 11-for-16.

Although Missouri came into the game ranked No. 235 in the NET, they didn’t play like it. The short-handed Tigers roared out to a 9-0 lead after the first three minutes of action.

Alabama settled in, going on a 14-2 run to reclaim the lead. The Crimson Tide scored in bunches the rest of the half, but with no answers on the defensive end, the Tigers hung around. Alabama went into the half up 43-40.

Missouri came out of the locker room rejuvenated, starting the half on a 17-6 run. Like last year, the Tigers piled on and extended their lead to 72-54 with 10:44 remaining.

Alabama trimmed the lead to six, but after a couple of costly turnovers and Missouri free throws, the Tigers held on.

Oats says that his team needs more leadership, which starts with him, but also other players.

“I gotta do a better job at motivating these guys for games that they’re supposed to win,” Oats said. “Some guys walk in as natural leaders. Can we get someone that makes sure all of their teammates play hard every night? It comes off a little different when it’s your teammate telling you your effort is not where it needs to be.”

Alabama will have to get right, and quickly. Its archrival, the No. 9 Auburn Tigers (13-1), will play in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night. Tip-off from Tuscaloosa is set for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.