Alabama is once again on the cusp of rewriting more history.
After setting a program record for most wins in a regular season, the Crimson Tide are looking to break that mark on Saturday afternoon. To do so, it would have to bring down Missouri State, which had defeated Tennessee by eight points less than 24 hours earlier. As Alabama looks to push its ticket to the SEC Tournament Final, a victory over the Tigers will mark the first time they have beaten Missouri twice in a single season since 2016-17.
Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
How do you watch
from: No. 2 Alabama (27-5) vs. Missouri (22-11)
when: CT noon, Saturday, March 11th
where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
He watches: ESPN (play-by-play: Karl Ravitch, analyst: Jimmy Dykes, sideline: Marty Smith)
He listens: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Brian Basnick; engineer Tom Stipe)
Expected Alabama appetizer
Jahvon Quinerly: 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, senior
Stats: 7.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 39.2% FG, 34.3% 3-pt
Mark Sears: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, junior
Stats: 13.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 42.7% FG, 37.7% 3-pt
Brandon Miller: 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, freshman
Stats: 19.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 45.3% FG, 40.4% 3-pt
Noah Clooney: 6-foot-10, 210 lbs., freshman
Stats: 10.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 48.8% FG, 26.5% 3-pt
Charles Pediaco: 7 ft., 225 lbs., freshman
Stats: 5.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.6 apg, 63.2% FG
Missouri’s projected starting lineup
Honorable Mention: 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, senior
Stats: 8.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 41.9% FG, 40.5% 3-pt
De Moy Hodge: 6-foot-4, 188 pounds, senior
Stats: 14.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 46.9% FG, 39.6% 3-pt
DeAndre Goulston: 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, senior
Stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 43.4% FG, 33.7% 3-pt
Mohammed Diarra: 6-foot-10, 215 pounds, junior
Stats: 3.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 apg, 45.3% FG, 30.8% 3-pt
Kobe Brown: 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, senior
Stats: 16.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 55.8% FG, 45.5% 3-pt
Gurley continues to grind it
There’s something to be said for a player who continues to stay grounded even when he doesn’t get game time.
Noah Gurley has done that all season with Alabama, averaging 14.8 minutes per game but in SEC play he’s only exceeded that average four times. Recently, the senior has seen his playing time dwindle further, playing 10 minutes or less in six of his last seven games.
Regardless, Gurley remained committed to the team, just biding his time. He was rewarded on Friday, as he scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes.
“We talked about his leadership all year, I think you see it,” Oates said. “For a guy who had some DNPs late in the year for a sophomore who was a big contributor, started a lot of games last year, to come in and be mentally ready to go himself.
“This is a team that plays big. Cam Matthews is a more traditional four-man. We decided to grow old with Gurley in the four more. He had great runs, he was ready to go. I think he epitomizes our team, to be honest with you. An incredible culture of guys who They only care about their teammates. He kept driving, never frowned. We needed him today.”
While his contributions were needed, Gurley was 3-for-4 from behind the arc boosting the team’s 3-point shooting percentage to over 35%. He also had a 92 effective field goal percentage which was second on the team behind Dom Welch who went 1-for-1 before suffering a tailbone injury.
“He just stayed with him, led the team as captain, stayed in the gym, and worked his tail off,” Oates said. “I mean, I was in the training room a couple of days ago. He came in all sweaty, maybe three or four hours after he finished training. I said, ‘What have you been doing?'” He was drenched and he said, “I just finished shooting practice. This is a kid who never dropped his head, never frowned. A real top kid. All our kids are top kiddos. But he’s on top, and I’m really happy for him.”
Rematch with Kobe Brown
Saturday’s rematch means a second meeting with Kobe Brown of Huntsville Alabama.
The 6-foot-8 led Missouri all season averaging 16.2 points per game and adding 6.3 rebounds per game. Alabama did not get a chance to face Brown during the regular season as he was dealing with an ankle injury. Since returning to Earth, however, he has scored in double figures in all but three games which included a 24-point performance against Tennessee on Friday.
“I wasn’t here when he was drafted out of high school, so I take no responsibility for him not being drafted,” Oates said in January. “Maybe you can put that outside so he doesn’t deal with me. I’d like to be on that team. You can tell how great he is.
“He shoots the three pointers really well, he’s big and strong and when he gets to the edge he’s done. He’s really one of those guys. He gets better every year as if he hits the ball better than when he came in. There are so many holes in his game.”