TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama returns to the streets Saturday to complete its two-game swing.
The Crimson Tide takes a trip to Columbia, Missouri, a place where Alabama has struggled for victory of late. Despite the recent losing streak, Alabama has held a 12-7 lead over the Tigers since the series began in 1977.
Here’s everything you need to know as No. 4 Alabama takes on Missouri.
Who: No.4 Alabama (16-2, 6-0) vs. Missouri (14-4, 3-3)
When: 5 p.m. CT, Saturday, January 21
Where from: Mizzou Arena, Colombia, Mon.
Regard: SEC Network (Play-by-Play: Mike Morgan; Analyst: Daymeon Fishback)
Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-Play: Chris Stewart; Analyst: Bryan Passink; Sideline: Roger Hoover; Engineer: Tom Stipe)
Alabama’s estimated starting lineup
Jaden Bradley: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, freshman
Stats: 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 44.4% FG, 33.3% 3pt
Markus Sears: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, junior
Stats: 14.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 42.8% FG, 40.2% 3pt
Brandon Miller: 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, freshman
Stats: 20.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 46.7% FG, 46.2% 3pt
Noah Clowney: 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, freshman
Stats: 9.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 50.0% FG, 29.1% 3pt
Charles Bediako: 7 feet, 225 pounds, sophomore
Stats: 5.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 57.7% FG
Missouri’s estimated starting lineup
Nick Honor: 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, senior
Stats: 8.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 45.4% FG, 41.7% 3pt
D’Moi Hodge: 6-foot-4, 188 pounds, senior
Stats: 14.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 48.1% FG, 37.8% 3pt
Tre Gomillion: 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, senior
Stats: 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 47.4% FG, 37.5% 3pt
Ronnie DeGray: 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, junior
Stats: 2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.3 apg, 42.9% FG, 27.3% 3pt
Kobe Brown: 6ft 8, 250 pounds, senior
Stats: 15.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 56.0% FG, 40.8% 3pt
Slow down Kobe Brown
Another matchup with Missouri means another clash with Kobe Brown.
The Tigers guard/forward was one of the team’s most reliable scoring chances in 2022, leading Missouri with 15.7 points per game. In conference play, the senior has found another level averaging more than 18 points per game, including a 30-point performance against Kentucky.
It’s a level that Alabama fans have grown accustomed to during his tenure with the Tigers. Last season, Brown set fire to Alabama at Mizzou Arena, scoring 30 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line and 13 rebounds en route to a 92-86 win for Missouri.
“I wasn’t here when he was recruited out of high school, so I take no responsibility for not recruiting him,” Oats said. “Maybe you can put that out there so he doesn’t take it out on me. I would love to have him on this team. You can tell how good he is
“He shoots the 3-pointer well, he’s big and strong and when he gets to the edge he’s done. He really is one of those matchup guys. He’s gotten better every year like he’s shooting the ball better than when he arrived. He doesn’t have many holes in his game.”
Another trip to the Mizzou Arena
After defeating the Demons at Memorial Stadium in Nashville, Alabama faces another daunting road test when it travels to Columbia on Saturday.
Despite beating No. 1 in Houston and then North Carolina on the road at the Phil Knight Invitational, Oats is still looking for his first win in Missouri since arriving in Tuscaloosa.
“The year we went 16-2, we went up and we were just floored,” Oats said. “Last year Charles (Bediako) didn’t really have a matchup. We went to the Zone, it didn’t work very well for us. They cause matchup problems. Again this year. Brown is a kid from Alabama who is in Missouri. Seems like he’s always up for our game. He’s a mismatch problem.”
Regardless of how both teams fare, Missouri continues to get the best of Alabama as Oats is 0-3 on trips to Mizzou Arena. Since the Tigers joined the conference, the home side have largely controlled the series, with the hosts going 11-3 combined. For Oats, his message was simple, Alabama needs a repeat of Tuesday’s performance.
“To be honest, we just have to change the narrative about Missouri,” Oats said. “We just have to go out there, play hard, the first four minutes have to be really good.”
Which continues to work through fights
Dom Welch’s move to Tuscaloosa didn’t go as smoothly as a member of the Crimson Tide could have wished.
After struggling through a nagging calf injury, Welch struggled to find his rhythm, shooting a pathetic 1-on-13 from deep. While the low percentage is shocking, it is compounded by the fact that Welch is currently third in St. Boneventure’s program history with 257 3-pointers. He also has a career average of 37.4 behind the arc.
“It’s really hard to get into every game and go 1v2,” Oats said. “It’s easy to play 0v2. If he had eight tries, he wouldn’t shoot 13% or 8%. I think he’s been out for a while and it takes you a while to come back when he came back we played so well.
“It’s hard to just focus on making it (work) and sacrificing wins and losses to win a player back. When you have limited minutes and limited reps, it’s tough as a shooter.”
Oats said he hopes Welch can find his stroke soon as Nirmari Burnett is still not healthy enough to return to the lineup. Still, Oats has been impressed with Welch’s training lately and hopes to see improvements as the game progresses.
“I thought that was his best practice since he came back, but I also thought he kind of lost himself with the game,” Oats said. “I was just playing really hard I think for shooters and skill types. When you just lose yourself in the game and play really hard, your instincts take over. He’s an instinctive player and he was shooting, so we’re just focusing on him playing hard.”
– Alabama became the fourth team in the past 50 years to start conference play by winning each of its first six competitions by double digits (+20.8 points ahead), beating Kentucky (twice – 1977-78 and 1994-95) and Florida (2012–) joined. 13)
– Alabama has five Quad 1 wins this season, third most in the country behind Purdue and Kansas (7 wins).
– Alabama is looking to improve to 7-0 in the SEC game for the second time under Coach Oats. Prior to the Oats’ arrival, the Tide had not started a SEC 6-0 game since the 1986–87 season
– Alabama ranks #4 in the AP Top 25 poll for the second time this season, the highest AP ranking since 2006-07 (#4)
— After recording 16.9 turnovers per game during non-conference play, Tide is now averaging just 11.7 turnovers in SEC games
— Alabama is 14-12 against AP top 25 teams during Nate Oats’ tenureAlabama has recorded five wins against top 25 opponents in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history, going 10-5 over the span
Brandon Miller was named NCAA March Madness Player of the Week and SEC Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season on Jan. 16
– Miller is averaging 20.1 points per game, the most of any freshman in the country and No. 20 overall
– Miller is the only freshman in the country to rank in the top 70 in points and rebounds per game (No. 69)
– Miller is one of six players in Division I, the only player in the SEC and the only freshman in the country to have 360 points and 150 rebounds this season