Noah Clooney needed a day like this. So did Alabama basketball.
Clowney ended a two-game slump on Saturday, compiling his best statistical performance in a Crimson Tide uniform to lead Alabama to an 85-64 victory over Missouri. The victory ended the Tide’s road woes against the Tigers, marking their first win inside Mizzou Arena since 2019.
Clooney was awarded the Alabama Hard Hat Award, recording a career-high 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 freshman, affectionately called “Stretch” by his teammates, dominated the boards early on, taking advantage of Missouri’s absence of star forward Kobe Brown with an ankle injury.
Clowney got his second double of the season less than a minute into the second period. By this point, he already had 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Tonight he finished 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. He also had a team-high five offensive rebounds that contributed to the Tide’s 21 second chance points on the night.
“He played really well for us,” said Alabama coach Nate Oates. “There’s a reason he’s been playing as many minutes as he’s been playing this year.”
Saturday performance is no anomaly. Clowney has already won the SEC Freshman twice this season, averaging 9.9 points and 8.6 rebounds through 18 games. However, the freshman was able to break out of a slight offensive slump after putting up a combined 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting over his previous two games against LSU and Vanderbilt.
Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that his numbers could have been better. With the Browns out, Clowney spent most of his 28 minutes on the floor for a faster lineup than Missouri. This resulted in him suffering several shots on uncharacteristically bad ends.
“He missed a few rims that I thought he would have naturally made or could have made, but he plays heavy minutes. He probably got a little tired, and he chased the guards with us and we swapped a lot of stuff.”
However, his 17 points and 14 rebounds are a stat streak the Crimson Tide will take on any given day. This is an 86-64 win.
Saturday’s win makes Alabama (17-2, 7-0 in the SEC) the only team undefeated in SEC playoffs after Texas A&M lost to Kentucky earlier in the day. The Crimson Tide will be looking to improve on their perfect run Wednesday when they look to pull off a sweep of the regular season against Mississippi State inside Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama opened conference play with a 78-67 victory over the Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi on December 28. Clooney tallied 12 points and eight rebounds while also recording a blocked shot and a steal.