Men’s basketball keeps momentum with 88-74 win against Missouri

Jack Kennedy | @JWkennedy24, Staff Reporter

Last season, the Crimson Tide defeated three AP Top 25 teams at home but lost the following game after all three victories.

So coming off an emotional 83-64 win against undefeated Auburn on Wednesday, coach Nate Oats preached to his team all week to put it behind them and focus on their next task at hand: Missouri.

Despite a perfect 31-of-31 free throw performance by the Tigers that allowed them to stay in the game, the Crimson Tide (10-7, 3-2) was able to pull away with an 88–74 victory.

“For us to still win by 14 when they set an SEC record [for free throw shooting percentage], that speaks a lot to what else we were doing well because we did not do a good job of keeping them off of the free throw line,” Oats said.

With Alabama leading 71-66 with 7:39 remaining in the game, freshman guard Jaylen Forbes committed an untimely turnover that quickly turned into a fast break. Missouri sophomore guard Xavier Pinson seemed to have an easy tomahawk dunk in front of him until Alabama’s junior forward Herbert Jones completed a chase-down block.

But a whistle blew.

Jones was called for a foul that sent the Crimson Tide and Coleman Coliseum into a frenzy. Continuing its perfect shooting performance from the charity stripe, Missouri cut the Crimson Tide lead to just 71–68.

After Alabama’s lead dropped down to just three again a possession later at 73-70, the Crimson Tide refused to let the Tigers get any closer by ending the game on a 11-4 run. Junior guard John Petty adding seven points in that stretch, including a three to put the Alabama lead at eight.

“Coach [Oats] gives us the green light to shoot the three in transition if we are open,” Petty said. “So I really just walked up and saw [the defender’s] feet inside the 3-point line and shot it with confidence.”

In the previous two games, Alabama had shot only 21 3-pointers in both games, which was well under its season average of 28.8. Against Missouri though, Alabama returned to their usual style of play by shooting 39 shots from three.

In the first half, Alabama started 1 of 5 from the three-point line, but shot 10 of 19 to finish the half, allowing the Crimson Tide to hold a seven-point at halftime. Alabama finished the game 13-of-39 shooting from beyond the arc. Petty and junior forward Alex Reese led the 3-point attack with Petty scoring 20 points on 4-of-10 shooting from three and Reese scoring 17 overall by shooting 4 of 8 from three.

“Getting threes up is just what we do,” said freshman guard Jaden Shackelford, who finished with 17 points. “The last few games we haven’t been getting as many attempts but playing hard and doing blue-collar things helps us get into a rhythm.”

Alabama will travel to Nashville next Wednesday to face Vanderbilt. The Crimson Tide has won in Memorial Gymnasium just twice since the 1989-90 season, the most recent victory being last season. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.