clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mizzou Hoops embarks on SEC tourney, searches for first-ever SEC Championship win

The Tigers are hoping to find themselves in the SEC Tournament championship for the first time in team history, squaring off against No. 1 Alabama in Nashville.

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

Missouri 61 | Alabama 72


First Half Notes

  • Kobe Brown opens the scoring with a dunk following a steal. Points off turnovers will be crucial today.
  • Brandon Miller starts his scoring with an offensive rebound and tip in. The glass is an area to watch throughout the game.
  • 16:18—DeAndre “Green Light” Gholston knocks home a three-point play.
  • Not the most beautiful basketball so far. Alabama is shooting just 18.2%, including an 0-8 tally from behind the arc. Missouri has yet to make a 3-pointer too and is hooting 33.3% form the field.
  • Alabama is on a 6-0 run, and Dennis Gates calls a timeout. The Tigers are shooting just 25%, finding little success inside or outside of the arc.
  • 10:35—Missouri has not scored in over four minutes.
  • Brown snaps the scoreless stretch.
  • Nick Honor cashes home a 3-pointer, the game’s first.
  • Alabama has found its shooting touch, jumping to a 7-0 run.
  • Missouri is shooting 26.1% from the field, including 11.1% from behind the arc. The Tigers cannot buy a basket right now against this Tide defense.
  • 4:50—Brandon Miller is at two fouls.
  • Carter and Gholston with back-to-back 3-pointers. Missouri cuts it to a four-point game.
  • The tempo has definitely picked up, and the Tigers are four for their last five shot attempts.
  • Hodge drills a dunk, but Brown is injured and on the floor. This is not a good sign for Missouri.
  • Kobe Brown has returned with no break.
  • D’Moi Hodge with an absurd 3-pointer from the corner. the only word!
  • Missouri closed the half on a 7-2 run.

Second Half Notes

  • Hodge drills a 3-pointer to give Mizzou its first lead since a 7-5 advantage.
  • Missouri’s grit is showing through, as DeAndre Gholston knocks home a three-point play.
  • 17:51—Miller has three fouls.
  • Missouri has missed seven consecutive shots, while Alabama has missed four straight attempts.
  • The two teams are on a two-minute scoring drought.
  • 12:52—Noah Clowney converts on a three-point play to give the Tide the lead once again.
  • Brandon Miller and Noah Carter trade 3-point baskets.
  • Alabama has 12 turnovers, while Missouri has just three.
  • The Crimson Tide are on a 14-3 run, pulling away. Back-to-back 3-pointers for Alabama.
  • Missouri is shooting 22.2% from the field in the second half, compared to the Tide’s 50% mark.
  • Brandon Miller has 11 second-half points, continuing to pose a challenge to Missouri defenders inside the arc.
  • Sears will a momentum-killing 3-pointer. Alabama maintains a nine-point advantage.
  • Missouri fought back within six multiple times, but Noah Clowney answers the call with a 3-pointer. Although there is time remaining, that’s a tough blow for the Tigers.
  • Alabama’s offense came alive throughout the second half. The Tide have made five 3-pointers in the period.
  • Missouri tests Alabama, but the Crimson Tide prove to be too much. The Tigers will await Selection Sunday.

Pregame Updates

  • Missouri Starters: Nick Honor, DeAndre Gholston, D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown and Mohamed Diarra
  • Alabama Starters: Mark Sears, Jahvon Quinerly, Noah Clowney, Brandon Miller and Charles Bediako
  • Tre Gomillion is OUT.
  • Missouri defeated Tennessee 79-71 yesterday. Don’t forget to relive the moment with Parker Gillam’s recap here, or below in the Twitter updates. Also, Dennis Gates received an extension through the 2028-29 season following the win as noted here by Josh Matejka.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many steals will D’Moi Hodge have?
  3. Will Mizzou have over or under 15 assists?
  4. How many points will Kobe Brown have?
  5. What will the halftime score be?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

The SEC Tournament is upon us.

No. 4 seed Missouri is set to challenge No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Semifinals Saturday, the Tigers’ first-ever appearance in the vaunted final four of conference teams. Mizzou defeated Tennessee 79-71 Friday, while Alabama dominated Mississippi State 72-49.

Mizzou’s only meeting against Alabama ended in a 21-point home defeat to the Crimson Tide. The Tigers played that game without All-SEC First Team forward Kobe Brown, the heart and sole of this Missouri squad.

However, that loss now represents a mere memory as the Tigers embark on their first SEC Tournament run under first-year coach Dennis Gates.

Missouri has never advanced to the championship round of the SEC Tournament and will be competing in its first semifinal.

Alabama, on the other hand, is familiar with postseason basketball. The Tide won the SEC Tournament last season and look to do so again as they aim to quiet the concerns they’ve heard throughout their late-season SEC fall.

For whoever surges into the championship, the path will feature either Texas A&M or Vanderbilt, who will face off against each other at 2:30 p.m.

March is upon us, and madness is bound to ensue. For the Tigers, this SEC Tournament could establish the start of something special or a precursor of what’s to come in the NCAA Tournament. Either way, it’s the best time of the year, so let’s get to some basketball.

Missouri’s SEC Tournament Info

When: Friday, March 10 — Sunday, March 12

Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN

Semifinal Time: 12:00 p.m. CST Saturday

Championship Time: 12:00 p.m. CST Sunday

TV: All Missouri game(s) will be broadcast on ESPN/SEC Network

Ken Pom Win Probability Friday: 23%

Rock M’s own Parker Gillam broke down all odds and additional information here.

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad, 8.2 PPG)

SG: D’Moi Hodge (Grad, 14.3 PPG)

SF: DeAndre Gholston (Grad, 10.5 PPG)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR, 15.9 PPG)

C: Mohamed Diarra (JR, 3.6 PPG)

Key Depth: Noah Carter (SR, PF, 9.5 PPG), Sean East II (SR, PG, 7.6 PPG), Tre Gomillion (Grad, G, 4.8 PPG) and Aidan Shaw (FR, PF, 3 PPG)


PG: Jahvon Quibverly (SR, 7.8 PPG)

SG: Mark Sears (JR, 13.3 PPG)

SF: Brandon Miller (FR, 19.6 PPG)

PF: Noah Clowney (FR, 10.0 PPG)

C: Charles Bediako (SOPH, 5.7 PPG)

Key Depth: Noah Gurley (SR, F, 4.8 PPG), Jaden Bradley (FR, G, 7.3 PPG), Rylan Griffen (FR, G, 6.4 PPG)

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

Potential Championship Matchups: Texas A&M and Vanderbilt

Path to a Potential SEC Championship Run

Tennessee represented the first obstacle for the Missouri Tigers, but Mizzou dispatched the home-state Volunteers with yet another efficient offensive performance. The next test for the Tigers comes in the form of Alabama, a national championship contender.

The Crimson Tide are the top seed in the SEC, flashing a dynamic offense behind SEC Player of the Year Brandon Miller as well as a top-five defense that continues to shut down opponents.

However, since the news about Miller surfaced, Alabama has not looked the same. While the Crimson Tide finished off the season with wins in three of its last four games, each win came within five points as opponents scored at a higher rate than usual.

Those weaknesses compounded in Alabama’s regular season finale against Texas A&M, in which the Tide lost 67-61. Alabama will hope to reverse its tide behind its defense, which ranks as the best two-point field goal defense as well as the nation’s No. 3 defense on 3-point field goals.

Alabama reversed its course against Mississippi State, dominating from start to finish in a 23-point drubbing of the Bulldogs. Miller once again shined, but the Crimson Tide also found balanced scoring behind him.

Center Charles Bediako scored 11 points, guard Jahvon Quinerly added 10 and forward Noah Gurley recorded 11 of his own off the bench. As a whole, Alabama shot 40.3% from the field, including a 35.1% tally from behind the arc.

Its defense was the main storyline, however. The Tide held Mississippi State, the worst 3-point shooting team in the nation, to just one 3-pointer. Perhaps more impressive was their defense inside the arc, which only allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 37.8%.

As evidenced against Mississippi State, Alabama flashes efficient offensive rebounding, suffocating defense and an emphasis on ball movement. The Crimson Tide were able to avoid their season-long turnover problem in the victory, but it’ll be an area to watch going forward.

A strength for Alabama against the Bulldogs was its 3-point shooting, something that hadn’t been as much of a priority in the regular season. Finding their stroke from behind the arc will only make the Tide more dangerous, as evidenced Friday.

The other half of the bracket features just two teams remaining—No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 6 Vanderbilt. Both of these teams proved to be a difficult test to Mizzou in the regular season, the former winning both matchups and the latter falling in an overtime loss.

Vanderbilt is riding a surge of momentum, looking to secure a spot not only in the SEC Championship game but also the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M is looking to bolster its resume following a dominant conference season, in which the Aggies flipped the consensus on their team as a whole.

Any and all of these teams have an opportunity to play for an SEC Championship title on Sunday, so buckle up everyone. It’s time for March Madness.

3 Keys To The Tournament

1. Force turnovers early and often

Missouri will need to find a way to counteract the disadvantage it will have on the rebounding end, and this is where its pesky defense will come in handy.

The Tigers swipe steals on 14.8% of opponent possessions, good for second in the country. Those added chances should bode well for Missouri, who shoots 56.4% from inside the arc, 36.2% from outside of it and 75.6% from the free throw line.

Capitalizing on opponent mistakes will be vital, especially against an Alabama team that turns the ball over more than any other SEC opponent. Opportunities to force turnovers should come often for the Tigers, and it’ll likely be the difference in determining whether Missouri can work its way to a semifinal.

2. Showcase the strengths of the offense

I would say that Missouri is likely the most difficult team to prepare for in the SEC Tournament.

The Tigers are effective at generating different defensive looks, applying pressure at different times and force turnovers at an alarming rate.

At the same time, opponents don’t know who might beat them on a given day. Missouri has at least six different scorers who could lead the team in scoring, making the Tigers versatile and dynamic.

With opposing teams only having a day to prepare, it’ll be extremely important for Gates and Co. to game plan with that in mind. This could be the spot where Missouri fans truly see how the coaches execute, and it’ll be up to the players to put it into action.

3. Find the balance between Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge

The two heads of Missouri’s offense are Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge.

They each possess unique qualities that make them dynamic, but the key in the SEC Tournament will be finding that balance between the two.

Brown has an ability to be a three-level scorer, and he was named to the All-SEC First Team earlier this week. He can truly control a game for Missouri but can oftentimes find himself in foul trouble as well. Facing Alabama in a win-or-go-home game, that cannot happen.

Hodge, on the other hand, can flat out shoot. He possesses a true ‘3 and D’ potential with his efficient shooting stroke combined with his quick hands on the defensive end, which resulted in him being crowned the SEC leader in steals.

However, Hodge can go cold at times with constant pressure from opposing defenses, which can slow down Missouri’s offense and limit the number of 3-point shots that go through the net.

Together though, Missouri’s offense looks unstoppable at times. The Tigers will need to generate their signature off-ball movement to open up quality shot attempts for the pair, which should be contagious to the rest of the lineup.

Quarterfinal and Semifinal Prediction

My Quarterfinal Prediction: Missouri 71 | Tennessee 68

KenPom Quarterfinal Prediction: Tennessee 77 | Missouri 69

My Semifinal Prediction: Alabama 82 | Missouri 75

KenPom Quarterfinal Prediction: Alabama 86 | Missouri 77

Updated: Well, the Tigers made it to their first ever SEC Tournament semifinal. Now, they get the privilege of being able to take on Brandon Miller and No. 1 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide proved to be too much to handle in an 85-64 win at Mizzou Arena on Jan. 21, but Kobe Brown did not play in that game. He should make a difference this time around, but the team will need to improve in plenty of other facets to take down Alabama.

Hodge and Brown continuing to play at the level they did against Tennessee is a must, but the Tigers need another scoring threat to emerge. Slowing down Miller and co. on the offensive end is next to impossible, so Missouri’s best hope is to score with them.

At the end of the day, this game should be closer than the first meeting, but Alabama appears to be playing on a different level than the rest of the SEC. Mizzou may be able to hang around, but unless they put forth one of their best shooting performances of the season, this will likely be a Crimson Tide win.

Tennessee Prediction: Tennessee is looking for revenge after its crushing defeat in the last meeting against Missouri, but unlike KenPom, I don’t think it’ll come Friday.

The Tigers have had all week to prepare for the Vols, who looked like the likely favorite to come out of the bracket alongside Ole Miss and South Carolina. Both Tennessee and Missouri flashed above-average shooting abilities in their first meeting, and I think a similar offensive output is expected.

I don’t believe the Vols have felt the true impact that Zakai Ziegler’s departure has on the lineup, and I think it’s an area that the Missouri coaching staff will look to expose.

Josiah-Jordan James, who didn't suit up in the first meeting, will look to replicate Ziegler’s success. Tennessee will miss Ziegler’s perimeter defensive intensity though, which is a crucial part of stopping a Missouri team that is keen on shooting the 3-point ball.

Like most SEC games at this time, I believe this’ll come down to one or two possessions, which will ultimately decide whether Missouri earns a trip to the semifinal.

The path beyond Tennessee looks even tougher. I think a trip to the SEC championship game is a potential reality, but the championship itself will come down to whether D’Moi Hodge and Kobe Brown team up to become the formidable duo they can be.