Men’s basketball comes roaring back in the second half to down Missouri

Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford (5) drives past Missouri’s Javon Pickett in Alabama’s 86-76 victory over Missouri.

David Gray / CW

Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford (5) drives past Missouri’s Javon Pickett in Alabama’s 86-76 victory over Missouri.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

After leading for over 83% of the game, it looked like the Missouri Tigers (8-10) were going to upset the Alabama Crimson Tide again.

But after trailing by 14 with under 14 minutes to play, the Crimson Tide (13-6) finished the game on a 37-13 run to beat the Tigers 86-76 at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday evening.

“It was a well-needed win,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “We didn’t play very well to start the game, but I thought our guys showed some resiliency and fight.”

It was a guard show for the Crimson Tide. 

Jaden Shackelford shined again for Alabama, scoring 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Freshman JD Davison found his groove from deep, knocking down three triples on his way to 17 points. 

Jahvon Quinerly came up huge in the second half, scoring all 13 of his points in the last frame after shooting 0-for-6 in the first 20 minutes.

“We got to do a better job at putting together a complete game,” Shackelford said. “I feel like we all just bought in and stayed together throughout that last stretch of the game. Really wanted to get this win.”

The physicality and size of the Tigers got to the Crimson Tide in Columbia, Missouri. Forward Kobe Brown had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and the Tigers out-rebounded Alabama 43-31 in the last meeting. 

Saturday saw Brown shoot 3-for-13 from the field, and the Crimson Tide was the aggressor on the glass, finishing with a +14 rebound margin.

“We went with different matchups on him [Brown],” Oats said. “I think switching kept guards on him. He didn’t shoot it as well. We fought him, we tried to front him in the post. I thought our guys did a better job.”

Missouri, who is the last team in the SEC in points per game and 3-pointers per game, has been red hot when facing Alabama this season. The Tigers made six more than their average, knocking down 11 3-pointers.

“It seems Missouri has their best shooting games against us,” Oats said. “This time we just kept competing.”

From the jump, the game looked similar to two weeks ago when Missouri led 9-0. Within the first four minutes, the Tigers led 14-3. And that’s when Oats made a radical change.

Senior walk-on Britton Johnson came into the game. Johnson, who had played just under five minutes this season, hustled all over the floor and grabbed three offensive rebounds. His performance sparked the Crimson Tide to eventually tie the contest at 25.

“In a way it was less ideal because we were in a hole,” Johnson said. “I wanted to be up by that point. It was really cool in that I have a coach that trusts me enough to come in and help the team, and I have teammates that trust me enough to have me in that situation. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

The Tigers bounced back and took a 40-36 lead into halftime.

After dodging a bullet in the first half, the Crimson Tide looked to take charge in the second half. But the opposite happened.

Missouri started the half on a 23-13 run to jump out to a 63-49 lead with 13:54 remaining.

But the Tigers’ hot shooting caught up to them, and Alabama heated up on both ends of the floor. 

By the five-minute mark, the game was tied at 73.

The next five minutes were a test of Alabama’s toughness. Would the Crimson Tide finish the comeback and win a crucial game, or would they falter under the pressure and allow the Tigers to take their home court?

Alabama responded to that question well. 

The Crimson Tide got after it on the defensive end and finished the game on a 13-3 run to win their second game in a row and likely boost themselves back into the Top 25.

“We got to figure out ways to start games with better energy no matter who the opponent is, but I gotta give credit to my guys for finding a way to close that game,” Oats said.

The Crimson Tide can extend their winning streak to three if they can go to Athens and take care of business against the SEC bottom-dwelling Georgia Bulldogs (5-14, 0-6).

Tipoff from Stegeman Coliseum is set for Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 5:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.