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Missouri ends skid with 69-60 road win over Alabama

Kassius Robertson scored 22 points to lead Cuonzo Martin to his 200th career win.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri (14-8, 4-5 SEC) had been here before.

The Tigers had led Alabama (14-8, 5-4 SEC) by as much as 12 points but saw a double-digit lead quickly evaporate. A Collin Sexton 3-pointer tied the game at 44 with 13:12 left, and it looked like the Crimson Tide were in position to complete the comeback.

Mizzou outscored Alabama 25-16 the rest of the way, however, to secure a 69-60 road victory. The win was the 200th of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin’s career and ended a three-game skid for the Tigers.

“I’m humbled by it,” said Martin when asked about the accomplishment. “I’m happy about it, but I’m more happy about the way our guys won this game on the road.”

Kassius Robertson scored 22 points — with 14 coming in the second half — on 60 percent shooting. He nailed four 3-pointers and filled out his stat sheet with four assists and rebounds.

“He’s an experienced guy, he’s battle tested,” said Martin when asked about Robertson’s play. “He’s playing with such a level of confidence now. I think the thing about his game that’s really improved from the time he got here is his ball-handling. Now he’s able to handle the ball, with pressure, and make decisions.”

As a team, Missouri shot 53 percent from the field while holding Alabama to just 35 percent. Sexton dropped 23 but didn’t get much help as only one other member of the Crimson Tide scored 10 points.

The Tigers turned the ball over 19 times and hit 11 fewer free throws than Alabama, but the 3-point shot proved to be a deciding factor. Mizzou hit nine treys, while the Crimson Tide made just five of 20 attempts from deep.

Robertson drained a three to retake the lead following Sexton’s shot to knot things up, and then Jeremiah Tilmon scored three straight baskets to extend the Missouri advantage to seven.

Tilmon had his first double-digit scoring outburst in five games, posting 12 points despite fouling out and playing just 14 minutes. He was huge for Mizzou in crunch time and showed the aggressiveness that Martin spoke of Tuesday.

Robertson hit another 3-pointer, and Tilmon scored again on a dunk before he fouled out. Robertson scored six of the Tigers’ final nine points. He was determined to win.

“I think that could have been the start of a really bad skid,” said Robertson when asked what would have happened if they lost. “We put an end to it. We lost some games we shouldn’t have, to some teams we shouldn’t have.”

Before the game, Martin inserted Cullen VanLeer and Kevin Puryear back into the starting lineup, replacing Jordan Geist and Jontay Porter. Geist and Porter didn’t sulk after getting benched. In fact, they outplayed their replacements.

Geist had five points, nine rebounds and five assists, while committing zero turnovers. Porter scored 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting and grabbed three boards in 18 minutes.

“I talked to both Jontay and Geist,” Martin said. “Just about trying to get that edge back. Both guys agreed that they didn’t have the level of edge or fire burning in side of ‘em. It showed, both of them did some good things tonight.”

VanLeer and Puryear struggled offensively, combining for just five points on 1-for-9 shooting and four turnovers in 61 minutes. VanLeer, however, held Alabama’s John Petty to 1-for-6 shooting.

Missouri hosts No. 21 Kentucky at 1 p.m. on Saturday.