There has been a buzz about the Alabama basketball team’s win against Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge last Saturday, the sort of positive vibe UA head coach Avery Johnson has been hoping to build in his three seasons at Alabama.
By Monday, Johnson declared enough was enough.
Alabama vs. Missouri
When: 8 p.m. CT, Wednesday
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 14-7 (5-3 SEC), Missouri 13-8 (3-5 SEC)
Radio: 95.3 FM
“I think we practiced a little longer than (the players) expected,” Johnson said. “I was a little more animated than usual. I wanted to get (Oklahoma) out of our system.”
Instead, Johnson said, he wanted full attention on Missouri, Alabama’s Wednesday night opponent at Coleman Coliseum, rather than looking back at the weekend or ahead to other games with NCAA Tournament ramifications.
“Oklahoma was a step in the right direction,” Johnson said. “I’d say in that game, we had solid execution on both ends of the floor in six out of every 10 possessions, maybe seven out of 10. That’s compared to maybe three out of 10 at Ole Miss (and) zero out of 10 at Georgia, just to put it in perspective. But as far as effort, resiliency, concentration and making the extra pass, we improved.”
Johnson’s focus was on maintaining that effort agaisnt a Missouri team that is looking to break out of a mini-slump, having lost its last three games. The Tigers are 13-8 overall and have wins against South Carolina and Tennessee on their resume.
“Cuonzo Martin (the Missouri coach) has done an outstanding job,” Johnson said. “And let me tell you, if we treat (Tiger guard) Kassius Robertson (15.7 ppg) with any type of disrespect, it’s not going to be a good night for us. He’s not named Trae Young, it’s Kassius Robertson. He’s older and more mature, a graduate student. But if we don’t respect his 3-point shooting and passing ability, it’s going to be hard for us.”
Missouri will be without reserve point guard Terrence Phillips, who is suspended due to a Title IX investigation at the school. Phillips was a starter last year but had seen his minutes dwindle this season even before the suspension.
Johnson does expect the Crimson Tide to be near full strength for the game, noting that freshman guard Collin Sexton went through practice “on a pitch count” — in other words, limited reps — on Monday as he continues to recuperate from an abdominal strain.
“That was a coach’s decision,” Johnson said. “He’s doing much better.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.