Young Bama must keep momentum going against fading Mizzou

Where to watch: (9-7, 1-3 SEC – #71 KenPom rating) at Alabama (9-7, 2-2 – #45) – Today 2:30 p.m., Coleman Coliseum, SEC Network

Who to watch: . Even though he got nine points and six rebounds in the start against Auburn, the spotlight of a big game seemed to get to the freshman, who had a season-high five turnovers and missed all of his 3-point attempts. Shackelford is a combined 0-for-4 behind the arc in the last two games, which parallels a rough stretch of 3-point shooting for Bama as teams begin focusing on chasing the Tide off the perimeter. But this isn’t Auburn and this isn’t Kentucky. Mizzou was one of the nation’s stingiest defenses in the non-conference schedule but has looked more like paper Tigers come January, allowing 71.8 points in four SEC games and allowing opponents better than 38 percent shooting from deep the last three games. This is a good spot for Shackelford and friends to rebuild confidence.

What to watch for: Handling prosperity. The Crimson Tide has won six of the nine matchups since Missouri joined the league for the 2012-13 season, but has seldom looked impressive doing so. This seemingly has always been a natural letdown spot on the calendar and if there is anything Bama basketball has been known for over the last two coaching regimes, it is following up what was supposed to be a breakthrough win with a clunker. If Alabama has any serious NCAA aspirations, it cannot afford to lose focus now at the beginning of a three-game stretch (Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kansas State) where it should be stacking up wins and rounding into form. This team burned up all of its margin for error in November and December, so now is the time it has to prove this isn’t the “same old Bama.”

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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