One fear I had entering this game was Alabama would continue the trend of teams hammering Mizzou with pick-and-rolls, especially given the fact that it’s how Avery Johnson positions Collin Sexton to barrel downhill.
In my nightmare, Sexton was able to find Donta Hall for dump-offs and baseline cutters or simply pitch the ball out to a wide-open John Petty, who would line up and knock in uncontested 3-pointers.
On top of that, Alabama is an early-clock offense, taking almost 19 percent of its shots within 10 seconds of an opponent’s miss — an attack compounded by the long rebounds you see when teams are watching longer jumpers kick off the rim. In total, the Tide came in 40th nationally in transition possessions.
Put simply, I didn’t know if MU could do enough to throw the brakes on and make the Tide reliant solely on Sexton.
They proved me wrong. Mizzou’s wings held Petty in check for five points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-5 from the 3-point arc). And while Dazon Ingram and Donta Hall flourished late in the first half — when Jordan Barnett, Jontay Porter, and Jeremiah Tilmon all were sitting with foul trouble — neither of them were able to get rolling in the second half, and the Tide shot just 22 percent from the floor.
As Sam alluded to in his preview, Bama is prone to ball-watching offensively: four guys look on as Sexton tries to attack gaps and create. Once Bama is forced to back out and run its half-court offense — usually, some form of high ball-screen action or handoff — their efficiency plummets to 0.86 points per possession, which ranked 244th entering Wednesday.
How did they do against Mizzou? Try 0.88 PPP and an average possession length north of 17 seconds, slower than Avery Johnson wants to play.
Mizzou’s formula is pretty simple: defend consistently, win the rebounding battle and shot a decent percentage from the 3-point line. Indeed, on Wednesday the Tigers ticked off each box.