Alabama missed 18 of its first 20 shots and dug itself a 10-point hole before coming alive in the second half to outlast host Missouri 57-54.
What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide has no room and no right to take anyone for granted. Mizzou had won two of its last three games coming in but the Tigers still only have seven victories and are 100-plus places behind Bama in most notable computer rankings. Missouri is smaller, slower, less talented … and for much of the night it outplayed Alabama to an embarrassing degree. The Tide looked somewhere between lost and indifferent on offense, as though it expected to flex its muscles and match its 12-point victory in Tuscaloosa. But in the last 10 seconds it took Riley Norris hanging on for dear life to a jump ball, Donta Hall coming up with an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and two foul shots by Dazon Ingram to finally ice the game.
What was the best part of the game?: Alabama eked out a 39-36 advantage on the glass but it would have lost the rebounding battle – and almost certainly the game – if it was not for the yeoman effort of Bola Olaniyan. The graduate transfer grabbed 14 boards, including six on offense, and held Mizzou’s Russell Woods to just two points and two rebounds. And his work also freed up Jimmie Taylor on offense, as the senior center pitched in nine points before fouling out.
Who was the star?: After Alabama clawed its way back to a 47-47 tie, Ingram put the Tide on top for good with back-to-back 3-pointers on his way to a season high 18 points. He also added nine rebounds and only turned it over twice on a night when Bama had no possessions to spare.
What were the biggest concerns?: Whoa boy. Alabama was far too passive in the first 20 minutes and against any other SEC team probably would have been run out of the gym after scoring a season-low 18 points. But even after halftime it took the Tide another 19:50 to get back in the bonus, and that’s inexcusable even on a night when officials were letting lots of heavy contact go. Even with Taylor going 3-for-6 it never felt like Bama could post up consistently and exploit its height advantage. The Tigers got much more than their share of loose balls and 50-50 plays because they simply outhustled the Crimson Tide. Seven assists in a college basketball is inexcusable (and to give you an idea of how brutal the game was, the Tide still won that category by one).
What’s next?: Having gotten the scare of its life against the league’s second-worst team, Alabama welcomes the genuine cellar dwelling article to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday. Tipoff against LSU is at 2:30 p.m. Central on the SEC Network.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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