Missouri remains in scoring chances in loss to Alabama

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Tigers’ magic number was 70.

Missouri has won its last 17 games by at least 70 points, but for the third time in four games the Tigers have been held at a season-low 64. The No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Tigers 85-64. Continuing Tide’s unbeaten start to Saturday’s Southeastern Conference game at Mizzou Arena.

“No. 1 team in the country, Alabama, I said it all along,” Missouri coach Dennis Gates said. “They have the length, they have the athleticism, they have the shooting ability that I thought we had they suppressed in the first half because that’s what they’re counting on, but they also do a great job when they get to the free-throw line.”

The team, which was once the best offense in a major conference early in the season, has averaged just 73.29 points per game in conference play.

Missouri’s recent shooting problems continued Saturday, totaling just 23 of 70 (32.9 percent) and a worst 3 of 28 (10.7 percent) of the season from beyond the arc. With that performance, the Tigers are just 18 of 97 (18.6 percent) of 3 in their last four games.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Gates said. “Close shot after open shot missed.”

Missouri was without leading scorer and rebounder Kobe Brown, whom Gates met with what he called an “executive decision” after warming up before the game with what he called an ankle injury.

Without Brown in the lineup, freshman Aidan Shaw made his first career start, amassing three rebounds and two points in a 17-20 game.

“Regardless of whether Kobe is playing or not, I used Aidan Shaw as a starter,” Gates said. “He would start anyway, he’s done a great job all week and I thought he was ready to start his first game.”

Missouri’s adjusted lineup stayed near Alabama early on. The Tide took a 9-2 lead early on, but after a break in Missouri, Isiaih Mosley began to show why he was one of the top scorers in college basketball last season.

With most of the Tigers’ first shots being fadeaways to try to get around the height of Alabama’s defense, Mosley charged into the lane to allow consecutive floaters to cut Alabama’s lead to 9-6.

The Tide built to an 11-6 lead, but DeAndre Gholston hit his first jumper of the day to start a 10-point performance before Mosley hit a step-back jumper from just short of the 3-point arc to cut the lead to 11-10 with 12:04 in the first half.

As an Alabama jumper and two Gholston free throws later, Mosley helped Missouri get their first lead when he crossed his defender to make room and then threw a lob at Shaw, who had worked his way past the Crimson Tide defense, to take one reverse dunk gave the Tigers a 14-13 lead.

Mosley connected with another floater to take Missouri to 16-13 at 9:30 in the first half, it would be the Tigers’ biggest lead.

Alabama came back to tie at 16, then tied again at 19 and 23 before the tide began to pull back. Alabama ended the first half on a 7-0 run and went into halftime with a 38-28 lead.

The Tide then opened the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 45-28 lead less than three minutes into the second half.

“The trend of Alabama is this, you can see it if you look at their goal margins, they go on a run at the end of the first and at the beginning of the second,” Gates said. “Consistently. That’s how they’ve always played. We didn’t soften it at all.”

Missouri never got any closer than 13 the rest of the way.

Alabama had a 20-point lead with 9:45 left, but a Gholston 3, a Mosley jumper and a Sean East layup put the Tigers within 63-50, but the tide quickly built to an 18-point lead Lead back and built as far as 21 with 23 seconds left.

Mosley punctuated his 19-point performance with another jumper with 5:34 left to add four rebounds.

Gholston added five rebounds to his 10-point streak, while Mohamed Diarra followed up a career game on Wednesday with another career game on Saturday for a total of eight points and 12 rebounds, seven of which came on offense.

“[Diarra]is finally getting a rhythm,” Gates said. “… I thought it was a highlight that he came out and had 12 rebounds.”

Missouri was overtaken again, but by a significantly smaller margin, with Alabama holding a 53-45 advantage.

Noah Clowney and Mark Sears led Alabama with 17 points each, while Clowney added 14 rebounds for a double-double and Sears added eight boards, a three-assist co-team high and a three-steal team-high. Brandon Miller had 15 points with eight rebounds while Jahvon Quinerly had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Alabama made 25 of 68 (36.8 percent) of his total shots, 10 of 35 (28.6 percent) of 3 after shooting 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from deep in the first half, and hit 25 of -32 (78.1 percent) at the free throw line.

Missouri (14-5, 3-4 SEC) will try to recover when they face Mississippi on Tuesday at 18:00.

Alabama (17-2, 7-0) will look to remain unbeaten in the Conferene game when they host Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Wednesday.