The fourth time was the magic for Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats at Mizzou Arena.
Oats had yet to find a way to beat Missouri away from home in the past three seasons. That changed on Saturday.
No. 4 Alabama didn’t have their best day offensively, but still defeated the Tigers 85-64. Missouri was without top scorer Kobe Brown, who hails from Huntsville.
The win leaves the Crimson Tide as the only undefeated team in the SEC game after Texas A&M lost to Kentucky on Saturday.
Here are observations and insights from the game between No. 4 Alabama (17-2, 7-0 SEC) and Missouri (14-5, 3-4).
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Mark Sears’ determination makes a difference
Mark Sears missed his first few baskets, but he didn’t let that deter him. He was patient and kept pushing.
This determination has paid off. By halftime, he had the most goals in the game with nine points and had three field goals.
His 3-point shooting didn’t work early as he went 0-for-4 before the break. But Sears wasn’t frustrated by that. He just found other ways to score.
He continued to show his scrappy spirit, struggling for four rebounds and three steals before the break.
Sears’ efforts helped Alabama to a 38-28 lead at halftime. Missouri never regained the lead in the second half.
Sears finished the tournament with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Noah Clowney shines for second double-double
Clowney hadn’t been as sharp from a scoring standpoint in the past few SEC games. Against Vanderbilt and LSU, he shot 3 for 13 and had 11 points.
That didn’t go any further against Missouri. He was a key figure on the offensive. Clowney surpassed his previous two-game scoring total just minutes into the second half.
It didn’t take Clowney long to earn a double-double either. Before two minutes had passed after the break, Clowney had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
By the end of the game, Clowney had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
He also had a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) in the win against Houston in December.
Burnett is back
Alabama already had a pretty deep list. Then things got going, bringing Nimari Burnett back into the lineup.
One of the best, if not the best, full-backs in the squad, Burnett returned on Saturday after missing more than a month with a wrist injury. He underwent surgery on his left wrist after beating Houston in December.
He started in the first nine games of the season and was averaging 18.8 minutes, 7.9 points and 2.3 rebounds before the injury. He’s a former McDonald’s All-American who transferred from Texas Tech to Alabama after the 2020-21 season, but a knee injury forced him to miss all of last season.
Burnett saw five minutes of action and failed to score on two shots. However, he snagged two rebounds.