Alabama basketball wakes up in time to overtake Missouri, avenge defeat

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

The timeout hit right before the five-minute mark in the second half, and the chants began. 

Many Alabama basketball fans remained standing during the break, taking part in the "ALA-BAMA, ALA-BAMA" chant that filled Coleman Coliseum on Saturday. Once again, the Crimson Tide had battled back against Missouri and tied the game. 

Too often, Alabama found itself in a situation needing an impressive effort to come close to the Tigers. Poor rebounding and inconsistent shooting while Missouri shot well from deep led to those holes. 

But the effort and toughness Alabama lacked at times Saturday, and in the previous matchup with Missouri, was the very thing that helped the Crimson Tide sneak up from behind and grab the victory. 

Alabama defeated Missouri 86-76 at Coleman Coliseum. 

"Their style definitely lends itself to playing better against us," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "But I think if we had played as hard as we did the last 14-15 minutes of the game, whenever that started, we would have been alright if we had played that for the full 40." 

Here are observations and takeaways from the matchup between Alabama (13-6, 4-3 SEC) and Missouri (8-10, 2-4):

Alabama shows grit, hustle late 

Missouri guard Jarron Coleman (5) grabs a rebound between Alabama forward Noah Gurley (0) and Alabama guard JD Davison (3) in Coleman Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.

Jahvon Quinerly hadn't done anything offensively in the first half, but he made up for it late in the second half. 

Two hustle plays he produced late helped make the comeback possible. First, he brought Alabama within six with nine minutes left as he scored off a breakaway steal. 

Later, he tied the game at 73 as he jarred a ball loose and drove for another layup. He finished with 13 points, all in the second half. 

"Coach preached all game that they didn't really have a primary ball handler, so he wanted us to pressure the ball," Quinerly said. "Those two steals that I got, I was just anticipating the pass going there." 

That grit was contagious. His teammates followed suit. Alabama finally took the lead with 4:34 left as James Rojas crashed toward the basket and tipped the ball in for the 75-73 lead. The Crimson Tide closed the game out from there, going on an 18-3 run. 

Jaden Shackelford helps Alabama climb back into first half

Problems that plagued Alabama during the recent three-game losing streak appeared early against the Tigers. 

The Crimson Tide hit its first 3-pointer thanks to Darius Miles, but then Alabama missed the next 10. Alabama also had three turnovers on its first four possessions. 

Missouri scored seven points off those three early turnovers, jumping out to a quick 14-3 lead. Alabama's defense couldn't figure out how to slow the Tigers as they did pretty much whatever they wanted. Alabama got outworked in the paint and shots continued to fall for Missouri. At one point in the first half, the Tigers held a 14-point lead. 

Rebounding was also an issue for Alabama early. Missouri seemed to hold the edge in toughness and competitiveness up to that point. 

Then, Shackelford showed he'd had a enough of that. 

With 8:13 left in the first half, Shackelford turned in a four-point play. On a night when Alabama couldn't hit an open three for a while, the junior guard hit one while he was fouled. A few possessions later, Shackelford grabbed his own rebound and scored off the layup. 

Add in a Keon Ellis 3-pointer and a JD Davison free throw, and Alabama tied the game up at 25-25 with 5:15 left. 

The Crimson Tide still trailed by four heading into the intermission, but Alabama remained firmly in the game. That seemed like a distant possibility when the Crimson Tide trailed 21-7. 

Quinerly comes off bench again; Britton Johnson provides spark

For the second consecutive game, Alabama had Quinerly start on the bench with Davison in the starting lineup. 

This time, he only waited about 90 seconds to enter, but Alabama clearly liked how that worked against LSU. 

And both ended up in double digits in points against Missouri, but Quinerly didn't come on strong until the second half. 

Another lineup surprise was Oats putting walk-on Britton Johnson in the game early. He played three minutes in the first half, providing a spark in energy. Immediately, he grabbed an offensive board and finished with three rebounds in those three minutes during a time when Missouri was beating Alabama on the glass. 

On the injury front, Juwan Gary did not play as he recovers from a facial contusion suffered in the LSU game. 

Up next

The Crimson Tide will return to the road to face Georgia for the first time this season. Alabama will play the Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Athens. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network. 

Then, on Saturday, the Crimson Tide will return to Tuscaloosa to face No. 6 Baylor at 3 p.m. CT at Coleman Coliseum. ESPN will carry that game. 

JAHVON QUINERLY:Why Alabama basketball's Jahvon Quinerly came off the bench against LSU

LSU GAME:How ugly win over LSU will help Alabama basketball down the stretch

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: nkelly@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly