The long-awaited Mizzou-Alabama rematch tips off tonight at Mizzou Arena (and SEC Network) at 7:30 pm CT. Rebounding will be a major key to the game — Alabama is very good at it.
Wednesday’s game presents a different challenge. Alabama comes to Columbia having lost three of its last four games and an offense that averages just 69.8 points per game, second-lowest in the conference. But the Crimson Tide win on the boards. They own the SEC’s best rebounding margin (plus-6.2). Avery Johnson’s team collects the league’s highest percentage of defensive rebounds (73.8) and in conference play ranks second in offensive rebound percentage (35.9). Up and down his rotation, Johnson deploys length and power, led by 6-8, 225-pound freshman forward Braxton Key, the team’s top scorer (14.8) and rebounder (6.8) in conference play.
The first time these two teams played, Jordan Barnett came in on something of a hot streak (16 points per game in his previous five games) but found his opportunities limited — he scored seven points on 3-for-6 shooting over 28 minutes. Now he comes in on an even hotter streak, averaging 21 points per game (on barely 10 shots per game) over his last three. He’s relaxed as can be. We’ll see if that makes a difference.
When Barnett initially became eligible, he felt the weight of immense expectations from his home-state fans and, being a unusually nice guy, didn’t want to ruffle any feathers as he took the floor midseason.
Now, all of that pretense has vanished.
“There was a time is early where I did feel pressured to score,” Barnett said. “Since coming off the bench, I guess that kind of a limited that. I just told myself to go out and play and be me … and these past couple games my shot been falling.”
Meanwhile, Kim Anderson has loosened up a bit. Okay, a lot.
“Last week, he came up to me and he was singing some Drake song,” Jordan Barnett said. “I think it was ‘Energy.’ I was just like, ‘What are you doing?’ I’ve never heard him quote Drake before. I don’t know if I can say he’s a fan or not. That’s an interesting moment.”
It was, indeed, unusual.
“I don’t really know how I feel about it. He’s an ‘Eagles’ guy,” Kevin Puryear said. “He likes oldies.”
Here’s “Energy” (EXPLICIT LYRICS ALERT).
And here’s something I had no choice but to post in response.
- As you may have heard, Mizzou hosted 10 in-state Missouri kids last weekend. One of the most highly-rated of the bunch — Parkway North’s Michael Thompson — raved to PowerMizzou about his visit.
- PowerMizzou also talked to 2017 quarterback signee Taylor Powell.
- Yesterday, we talked about NC State potentially firing Mark Gottfried and the effect it might have on a hypothetical Mizzou coaching search. Higher up the prestige list: Indiana. And Tom Crean’s best doesn’t appear to be good enough in Bloomington anymore.
- Mizzou Softball: still ranked 17th. Meanwhile, lost amid the hubbub of Kim Anderson winning his 300th career game is the fact that Ehren Earleywine won his 600th.
- Not a great first day for Mizzou Swimming & Diving at the SEC Championships — the women currently sit in third place, but the men are 10th.
- Mizzou Baseball’s season begins Friday at 6pm against Eastern Michigan in Fort Myers.
- The Men’s and Women’s Golf teams are confident after a nice fall season.
- Time for a quick rebound: Mizzou Wrestling takes on SIU-Edwardsville on Wednesday (2pm CT, watch here) to get the bitter taste of the UNI loss out of its collective mouth.
- The SEC’s spring football game schedule, if you’re interested: