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Men’s Basketball Preview and Live Game Thread: Tigers welcome the hottest team in the SEC to Columbia

Missouri has a golden opportunity to secure a season-changing win against the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 64 | Alabama 85



  • Kobe Brown is announced as out. Obviously a huge blow for the Tigers.
  • New Mizzou Starters: Tre Gomillion, D’Moi Hodge, Nick Honor, Aidan Shaw and Noah Carter
  • Alabama Starters: Jaden Bradley, Mark Sears, Noah Clowney, Brandon Miller and Charles Bediako
  • Alabama wins the tip and we’re off from Columbia.
  • Noah Clowney scores first for the Tide, but Gomillion responds right back.
  • Isiaih Mosley comes into the game as the first Tigers’ sub. Tre Gommilion already at two fouls.
  • Mizzou takes a timeout, as Alabama jumps on a 7-0 run. Noah Carter went to the locker room with a laceration above his eye, and the Tigers have not scored since.
  • Mosley with four points so far off the bench, providing the Tigers’ biggest spark offensively. They have still yet to hit a three-pointer.
  • Alabama has four turnovers already.
  • The Crimson Tide are one for their last seven shots. A 1-8 mark from beyond the arc to start is also a victory for the Tigers, but Alabama is known for its shooting.
  • Mosley finds Aidan Shaw for a reverse dunk that ignites the crowd and gives Mizzou the lead.
  • Alabama has just taken the lead, capitalizing on free throws. The Crimson Tide have shot just 31.6% from the field, however.
  • D’Moi Hodge with a three-point basket, Mizzou’s first of the game, and then Mosley blocked Clowney on the defensive end.
  • Alabama is in the bonus and will shoot free throws here on out.
  • Mizzou is giving the Crimson Tide trouble with its shot-fake and ball handling skills. Those opportunities have opened up easier shot attempts.
  • Alabama is on a roll, knocking down five of its last seven shots. The Tigers will need to overcome their own shooting woes to have any attempt at a comeback.
  • The Crimson Tide rediscovered aspects of their offense that made them so lethal throughout the first half of this season, using their talent to make shots from anywhere on the court to take a 10-point lead into halftime.


  • Alabama’s defense has held Mizzou to just 30.6% shooting, including an uninspiring 7.1% mark from beyond the arc. Without Kobe Brown, the Tigers have lacked that go-to scorer.
  • The Crimson Tide have outscored Mizzou 13-6 so far in the second half, rediscovering their scoring touch and efficient shooting.
  • Alabama is finding success on its three-point opportunities, which was something bound to happen against Mizzou’s shaky three-point defense.
  • Sean East II has six second-half points, but the Tigers cannot piece together a run.
  • There is no greater indicator of what drives Mizzou’s offensive success than that sequence. A pair of three-pointers highlight a 10-2 run and have reignited the Tiger faithful.
  • Alabama responds with its own run, and the Crimson Tide have built back to a 16-point lead.
  • Mo Diarra is having several impact plays late in the second half.
  • The Crimson Tide take full control in the second half and defeat the Tigers.


5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many three-pointers will D’Moi Hodge hit?
  3. What percentage will the Tigers shoot from the field?
  4. How many assists will Nick Honor have?
  5. Who will be the MVP?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

The Missouri Tigers (14-4, 3-3) get their lone shot at Alabama this Saturday.

The Crimson Tide have emerged as the favorite to win the SEC at this point of the season, and for good reason. They are 16-2 (6-0) and ranked No. 4 under fourth year head coach Nate Oats.

The Tide are led by Brandon Miller, arguably the top freshman in the country and a National Player of the Year candidate. They have looked dominant in every conference game they have played thus far, winning by double-digits in every contest.

The Tigers have lived off of home-cooking in SEC play thus far. They are 3-0 at home yet 0-2 on the road in conference play, with marked shooting differences depending on where they play. Mizzou is fresh off an emotional 79-76 victory over Arkansas on Wednesday in which they overcame a double-digit second half deficit.

Of course, this meeting will take place at Mizzou Arena, which is good news for Tiger fans.

A win over Alabama would easily become the highlight of Missouri’s NCAA Tournament résumé, but getting such a win will certainly be a tall order. Dennis Gates labeled Alabama as the best team in the nation following the Arkansas game, and many analysts agree.

Game Info

When: Saturday, Jan. 21st

Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, MO

Time: 5:00 p.m. CST

TV: SEC Network

KenPom Win Probability: 27%

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad)

SG: D’Moi Hodge (Grad)

SF: Tre Gomillion (Grad)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR)

C: Ronnie DeGray III (JR)

Key Depth: DeAndre Gholston (SG, Grad), Sean East II (PG, SR), Isiaih Mosley (SG, SR)


PG: Mark Sears (JR)

SG: Jaden Bradley (FR)

SF: Brandon Miller (FR)

PF: Noah Clowney (FR)

C: Charles Bediako (SOPH)

Key Depth: Noah Gurley (SF, SR), Rylan Griffen (SG, FR), Jahvon Quinerly (PG, SR)

*These starters are projected based on past lineups and pregame updates.

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Get To Know Alabama

Oats’ bunch have certainly been one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. They got out to a 10-2 start in nonconference play with wins over Michigan State, North Carolina, Houston and Memphis to their name.

Alabama began SEC play with dominant wins over Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt, none of which were in the single digits.

To nobody’s surprise, there’s a lot that Alabama does right. Per KenPom, the Tide rank 12th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 6th in defensive efficiency.

On defense, Alabama forces opponents to shoot 27.3% from behind the arc and 41.4% from inside, both of which rank top 10 nationally. They block 12% of the opposition’s shots as well.

The Crimson Tide are nearly as efficient on offense. Their barrage of 3-point shooters and athletic wing players allows them to play free and fast. They have an effective field goal percentage of 52.8% (70th in the nation), but they get up a lot of shots to make up for that.

And, the majority of those shots come from three-point land, as they shoot 46.9% of their shots from out there, despite shooting at a modest 35% clip.

Their one weakness? Turnovers. Alabama commits a turnover on 16.1% of their possessions and only forces one on 19.9% of possessions. Both of those rank in the bottom third of the nation, and when teams have been able to hang with them, it has been because of the turnover margin.

Brandon Miller gets most of the national attention on this team, and rightfully so. The 6’9” freshman forward out of Antioch, Tennessee is quickly rising up draft boards, averaging 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He’s one of the more fluid and efficient scorers in the country, shooting over 46% from the field and behind the arc despite his 6’9” frame. Expect to see a lot of Miller out there for Alabama, and to see a lot of shots leaving his hands.

Miller does overshadow a lot of other very skilled players on this team. Junior guard Mark Sears averages 14.5 points per game and exploded for a season-high 26 against Arkansas last week. He’s generally a volume shooter (much like Miller), but he makes shots at a 43% clip.

6’10” freshman forward Noah Clowney has emerged as a reliable scorer in conference play, averaging 9.5 points per game. Clowney can stretch a defense with his ability to shoot from the perimeter at times, but he really makes his mark on the glass, averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. A fellow Noah, this time Noah Gurley, generally spells Clowney and fills a similar role.

Jaden Bradley completes a trio of talented freshman on this Alabama team. The guard from Rochester, N.Y. leads the team with 3.8 assists per game. Rylan Griffen and Jahvon Quinerly provide quality back-court depth.

And just when it seemed that Alabama couldn’t have any more monstrous players, they throw 7’0” center Charles Bediako at you. Bediako has seen increased minutes as the season has gone on, and he has earned those minutes from his shot-blocking ability (1.9 per game).

3 Keys To The Game

  1. Slowing down Brandon Miller

Yeah, easier said than done. Not many teams have been able to do it. Just ask Gonzaga, who gave up a season-high 36 to Miller. Or LSU and Vandy, who each let up 30+.

Miller’s size and skill makes him a tough guard for anybody, but specifically an undersized Missouri team. The Tigers will have to throw a lot of bodies and different looks at Miller throughout the game to keep him on his toes. In a best-case scenario, Mizzou forces him to start cold from the floor and it plagues him all night. With an efficient shooter like Miller, making him uncomfortable is key, since another 30-point performance from Miller would spell doom for the Tigers.

Maybe the trademark zone can be what gets him off of his game?

2. Competing with Alabama’s size

Another game, another size mismatch for Missouri. The Tigers have faced this uphill climb all season-long, but it may not get worse than this. Alabama throws multiple 6’9”-plus athletes at their opponents and challenges them to somehow deal with them.

Miller has already been discussed and containing him will be a challenge in and of itself. However, Bediako, Clowney and Gurley are also problems, especially with how they can attack the glass and alter opposition’s shots.

It may be a tough outing for guys who like to slash towards the basket (Brown, Gholston, Mosley, East II) unless Gates can find a way to move the trees out of the paint.

3. Continuing to get Mosley and Diarra involved

This team’s ceiling raised exponentially when Isiaih Mosley and Mohamed Diarra saw the floor against Arkansas and played quality minutes. Each of them looked as active and involved as they have all season long, and with how the team and Gates talked of Diarra post-game, it seems that he recently has become one of the top players on the team in practice.

So, maybe the temporary loss of Noah Carter was a blessing in disguise. Mosley and Diarra only provide more depth for this team, but they each provide different qualities. Mosley gives the Tigers a play-making factor, as he can create his own shots and find teammates. Sean East II is the only other player that plays a similar role right now. However, against Arkansas, Mosley’s defense really shown through when he was drawing charges and getting steals.

For Diarra, he fills the void of a true “big” on this roster. He is athletic and quick for his size, and his ability to shoot from the perimeter can at least keep defenses honest. If he can step in and spell Carter/Brown during games, that would partially eliminate one of the biggest weaknesses on this team.

Against Bama, we will see how much each of these two see the floor. Regardless, their development hinges on if they can continue to make positive impacts.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Game Prediction

My Prediction: Alabama 92 | Missouri 81

KenPom Prediction: Alabama 87 | Missouri 80

This is a tall, tall order. Alabama has already gone into hostile environments against Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and come out on top. A sold-out Mizzou Arena, while rowdy, will not faze them.

So, with home-court advantage largely thrown out the window, let’s take a look at the game itself. The Crimson Tide have an obvious size advantage, which has been the Tigers’ kryptonite throughout this season. Miller, Clowney and Bediako will get easy buckets down low, alter shots and grab tons of rebounds. We have to accept this. The good news is that Arkansas out-rebounded the Tigers by 19 and still lost, so it is not an “end-all-be-all” if Mizzou gets bodied on the glass.

What Missouri can do to offset that (which they did not do against TAMU, Florida, or Arkansas), is shoot the ball at a high clip. The age-old saying is that the three-point shot is the ultimate equalizer in college basketball. Well, the Tigers need it to be just that on Saturday. Hodge, Carter, Honor, Mosley and Gholston should let it fly from deep early and often in this game.

Coming off such an emotional win, it will be interesting to see how the team responds on Saturday. The Arkansas game was extremely physical and intense, so we will have to see how fresh the team looks. And, at the same time, we will have to see if they can improve their shooting after a long cold streak, especially from deep.

While the Tigers are certainly capable of winning this game, Alabama looks like a Final Four team right now thanks to their size and talent level. The Crimson Tide will be able to out-muscle this Missouri team and force them to play exclusively from the perimeter on their way to picking up another road win in the SEC.