Alabama football lands Malik Benson, top 2023 JUCO recruit

Shorthanded Mizzou basketball pulls upset of No. 15 Alabama with offensive outburst

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri's Trevon Brazile, left, and Alabama's Charles Bediako, right, battle for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

In many of Missouri's losses this season, a sluggish offense stopped the Tigers from jumping out to a quick lead on opponents and prevented comebacks. 

The floodgates opened Saturday, in Missouri's first game of 2022 and in 10 days, against Southeastern Conference foe No. 15 Alabama, which has a league title and deep NCAA Tournament run in mind over the next few months.

MU leveraged a 9-0 run to begin the game and 32 points in the first nine minutes of the second half to outpace the Crimson Tide 92-86 at Mizzou Arena. 

Missouri improves to 7-7 overall and 1-1 in the SEC with the victory. Alabama falls to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in conference action. Alabama head coach Nate Oats is now 0-3 in Columbia since taking the helm in Tuscaloosa. 

"Our guys did a phenomenal job against a very talented team," Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said of the win. "You have to dig deep and believe that you're good enough."

Kobe Brown's heroics helped lead the Tigers to their first conference win. His 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 13 rebounds helped MU outlast the Crimson Tide. 

Brown's previous career high was 27 points against Utah in the team's last home game on Dec. 18. 

The upset of Alabama continues a trend of Missouri sports outperforming expectations with shorthanded personnel due to coronavirus protocols. 

On Saturday, Missouri was without two guards, Anton Brookshire and Amari Davis, due to COVID-19 regulations. Brookshire, a true freshman, started the Tigers' previous game against Kentucky. 

This upset comes one week and two days after the Missouri women's basketball team, with only eight players, took down previously undefeated and top-ranked South Carolina in overtime. 

In October 2020, Missouri football had nearly a dozen absences in its win over defending-national-champion LSU. 

"I'm very happy for (the team) because oftentimes, you can consume yourself with the periphery when you're not winning games," Martin said. "I'm in the fight with them. I'm happy for the way it came out."

Missouri's offensive spark made the difference in its first win over a ranked team since its last home game against Alabama last February. 

The Tigers had a season-high 19 assists, allowing for its highest point total of the season against a Division I team. 

It's a stark contrast to the Missouri performance against Liberty, where the Tigers put up 14 first-half points against the Flames. 

In the first half, Missouri kept pace with one of the conference's best teams, only trailing by three at the break despite the Crimson Tide shooting 50 percent from 3-point range and at a higher rate from inside the arc. 

Missouri also picked up big scoring performances from Javon Pickett, Boogie Coleman and DaJuan Gordon, finishing with 15, 18 and 15 points, respectively. 

"We have a ways to go as a team, but I think we've made tremendous strides," Martin said of the time since Missouri's last game. "Especially, in the week or so, we've had a chance to practice and get better."

The Tigers return to action on Wednesday as they face Arkansas, which dropped to 0-3 in SEC play on Saturday, from Fayetteville's Bud Walton Arena. 

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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