Photos by Tim Nwachukwu
By The Associated Press
MIssouri’s Jabari Brown gets tangled up with Retin Obasohan in the first half.
COLUMBIA — Jabari Brown knows there are ups and downs in basketball.
So after Missouri lost two of three, including a 78-75 setback at Vanderbilt on Thursday, the junior guard told his teammates not to get frustrated.
“It’s just a mental thing,” Brown said after scoring 24 points in the Tigers’ 68-47 win against Alabama on Saturday. “We’ve been around for a few years so we know. It’s the grind. You’re not going to win every game.
“The good teams are able to bounce back, and we’re trying to go from a good team to a great team.”
Brown tied his career high in points and Johnathan Williams III grabbed 14 rebounds for Missouri (14-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference), which only led 31-30 at the break. The Tigers then opened the second half with a 17-4 run to create some breathing room.
After shooting 52.6 percent in its 80-61 win against Mississippi State on Wednesday, Alabama converted only 29.2 percent of its shots from the field against Missouri and couldn’t pull closer than 13 points in the final 10 minutes.
“We were only down one at half so we didn’t need to make a big change,” Alabama guard Trevor Releford said. “After that they hit shots and executed and we just didn’t.”
Shannon Hale scored 12 points and Retin Obasohan added 11 points for the Crimson Tide (8-9, 2-2), which is 0-7 away from home this season.
“Missouri came out with great energy today,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought to start the game our guys matched it. The second half their energy and ability to get themselves out in transition and get to the free throw line. They were the better team today.”
Missouri benefited from the return of Jordan Clarkson in the second half after he sat the final 12 minutes in the first. Averaging 18.8 points per game, Clarkson scored four points before the break but finished with 16.
The Tigers yielded only five 3-pointers — one game after allowing 12 to Vanderbilt — and limited Alabama to 25 percent shooting from behind the arc. Coach Frank Haith said Saturday’s defensive effort was the best he’s seen this season — three games after commenting how the team looked “too cool.”
“We weren’t able to get out in transition and get easy baskets,” Grant said. “They did a really good job at forcing us to take the shots they wanted us to take. We weren’t able to get the outside shot to fall.”
Missouri shot 42.6 percent overall, including 52.4 percent (11 for 21) in the second half. Brown finished seven of nine from the field.
“Jabari’s in a nice groove right now,” Haith said. “But he works. Jabari puts in time on his game. He’s relentless in terms of his passion and wanting to be a good all-around player. He’s had great growth since he’s been here and I’m really proud of Jabari.”
For its part, Alabama wasn’t much better around the basket. Releford, a senior guard from Kansas City, Mo., leads the Crimson Tide with 18.9 points per game but tied a season low with 10 points on four of 16 shooting. He estimated there were 40 family members watching him at the game, but not his brother Travis, who was a two-year starter at Kansas.
“Six eyes,” Haith said. “We wanted six eyes on him the whole time, knowing where he’s at, staying down on shot fakes and using our length. And I thought we did a good job of that.”
After its initial run after halftime, Missouri gradually kept pulling away in front of a season-high attendance of 11,003. Before the game, fans could receive autographs from six members of the St. Louis Cardinals, headlined by NL championship series MVP Michael Wacha.
The Tigers hoped to put their troubles behind them by scoring the first seven points of the game, but Alabama scored 12 of the next 14. The teams then traded baskets until Williams’ jumper put Missouri ahead 31-30 with 53 seconds remaining before halftime.
The Tigers face LSU in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Their next home game is scheduled for Jan. 25 against South Carolina.
Missouri guard Jabari Brown attempts a three-point shot over Alabama’s Jimmie Taylor in the first half. Brown led the Tigers with 24 points in 38 minutes of play.
Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson attempts a jump shot during the first half against Alabama. Clarkson finished with 16 points.
Missouri’s Jonathan Williams III (3) and Earnest Ross (33) attempt to block Alabama’s Levi Randolph’s (20) shot.
Missouri’s Jordan Clarkson scrambles for the ball with Alabama’s Jimmie Taylor (10) and Rodney Cooper (21).
Missouri forward Jonathan Williams attempts a shot over Alabama guard Jimmie Taylor (10). Thought the Tigers only 31-30 at the half, they outscored the Crimson Tide in the second half 37-17.