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Keeping up the momentum: just another game

Before Missouri plays their biggest game of the season against conference leader Alabama, we hear from head coach Cuonzo Martin and his team

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 18th ranked Missouri Tigers prepare for their biggest and arguably toughest matchup of the season tomorrow, where they’ll host the 10th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Cuonzo Martin gave nothing but praise to Nate Oats’ squad this morning. “Nate has done a great job,” Martin said. “They [Alabama] have multiple guys who can make plays off the dribble and I think that’s what makes them good.”

Alabama, not typically known for their basketball prowess, has made a ridiculous amount of noise this season on the hardwood. The Crimson Tide currently sit atop the SEC standings, undefeated in conference play. This year the Tide have been fueled by a flurry of three point shooting, which is the team’s main concern. “They shoot the three ball really well,” Mitchell Smith explained in today’s press conference. ‘You don’t wanna scramble because they got guys who can shoot.”

Dru Smith spoke on Alabama’s offense as well, and said that it’s going to be vital that Missouri stands their ground defensively and finds ways to get stops. Dru explained how important it’s going to be to make sure that his team is consistently arriving on the catch, and keeping their man in front of them. Alabama has been known to play a fast pace game this year, to which Dru responded, “I think we’ll go with the flow of the game. If we have chances to run, we’ll run.” Mitchell Smith believes the Tigers can keep up with the Tide with ease. “We’re real comfortable playing fast. I think you’ll see the ball get pushed up pretty fast in the game,” Smith said.

Though the Tide has been dangerous all year from beyond the arc, it’s worth mentioning that the Tigers have begun to find their stride as well. Missouri is shooting 45% from deep in their last two games, and players like Mark Smith are finally contributing again, which gives the Tigers an additional layer to their offense. “Even when we struggled, I knew we were a better three point shooting team then what our percentage said,” Martin noted.

The linear message between coach, Mitch and Dru Smith was that this is simply just another basketball game and there is no reason to look at it any differently. “They’re just another good team in the conference,” Mitchell Smith explained. Dru Smith commended Alabama on their season thus far, but had a similar message. “It’s a big game. We understand that they’re a good team. There’s two good teams going at it tomorrow.” Just like his players, Coach Martin echoed the same thing, “I understand it,” Martin explained. “If you look at it any other way, you’re not built for this stage.”