Alabama at Missouri
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.
Records: Alabama 10-5 (1-2 SEC), Missouri (9-5, 0-2 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
Of all the small issues that have added up to a slow start in SEC play for Alabama’s men’s basketball team, the least-anticipated problem might be this: a quarterback controversy.
In losses to LSU and Texas A&M – and even in the closing minutes of a narrow win over Kentucky — Alabama wasn’t always able to execute its inbounds plays crisply. Sometimes that resulted in turnovers, sometimes it cost UA a time out and sometimes it ended up as a close call. But it’s one of many areas that head coach Avery Johnson wants to clean up before the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday night game at Missouri.
“We’ve got to get better,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “We need to inbound the ball cleanly whether it’s underneath the basket, (on the) side out of bounds or against pressure.
“We’ve identified guys that we call quarterbacks,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately for us, two of our quarterbacks that we like inbounding the ball had fouled out at the end of the (Texas A&M) game and that’s Riley Norris and Herb Jones. The next two are Alex Reese and Dazon (Ingram).
“That’s an area where we need improvement. There are several others, like patience at the end of games. We’ve had too many quick shots where we need to run time off the clock. Our defensive spacing needs to improve.
“These things are on me. It’s not on the kids. The responsibility is 100 percent on me.”
Missouri, which remains winless in the SEC after two games, leads the league in 3-point shooting, hitting 39.4 percent of its shots from beyond the arc. That will likely keep Alabama in its man-to-man defense for most of the game, although Johnson said he and his staff were looking at alternating defenses more often.
“As a coach, when we play zone and the other team scores, it feels like a six-point play to me,” Johnson said. “But we need to do a better job of giving teams different looks.”
Missouri lost its best player, Jontay Porter, to a preseason injury and has struggled in the post in recent games because of recurring foul problems on 6-foot-11 Jeremiah Tilmon. According to the Columbia Tribune, Tilmon has fouled out of Missouri’s last three games while contributing a meager 11 points and three rebounds in those contests. Reed Nikko, who often comes in when Tilmon goes out, hasn’t scored more than six points all season and has grabbed more than four rebounds just once.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.