In SEC Basketball, it does not matter the teams' records once the ball is tipped. Any team can be knocked off its throne in any conference game.
Alabama got another reminder of that Saturday afternoon.
During No. 15 Alabama's trip to Columbia, the COVID-depleted Missouri Tigers still played incredibly strong on the offensive end to help pull out a 92-86 victory.
They also gave the Crimson Tide fits on defense, and dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Crimson Tide 43 to 31.
"That might have been our worst defensive performance of the year," Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. "I told our guys going into this game it was going to be a leadership test, maturity test to see where we're at coming off two big wins... we've got to get some leadership."
Alabama (11-4) was unable to recover from the Tigers' dominant performance in the middle of the second half.
Right out of the gate, Alabama got punched in the mouth by the 7-7 Tigers. Missouri's Kobe Brown led the Tigers to a strong 9-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game, and the Crimson Tide missed its first seven shots.
Alabama was able to respond in the blink of an eye, though, with a 14-2 run spanning under three minutes. Jaden Shackelford led the way for the early Alabama run with two transitions threes, and Darius Miles added a three of his own from the corner.
Missouri responded with an 8-0 run, and back and forth it went.
The Crimson Tide was sparked by the play of freshman JD Davison, who nailed two threes on back-to-back possessions in the middle of the first half. Early on this season, Davison seemed to still be searching for his flow on the offensive side of the ball, so those two shots were big for the Crimson Tide.
Davison finished with 13 points in the game, and he was plus-10 on the floor.
"He led us in blue-collar points," Oats said. "We just want him to play aggressive... playing hard goes a long ways.
Thanks to the scoring from its guards and minimal turnovers, Alabama was able to slip into halftime with a 43-40 advantage. Veteran guards Jahvon Quinerly and Shackelford both had 10 points at halftime.
Brown continued to dominate on the offensive end for Missouri, and he had 17 points at the break. He did it all for the Tigers, including making two shots from three.
The first half ended up being an offensive onslaught for both squads, as Alabama shot 53 percent (17 of 32) from the field with Missouri at 48 percent (15 of 31).
Alabama had no answers for the Tigers defensively, and the Crimson Tide was outscored 32-17 in the first ten minutes of the second half.
With 10:03 remaining in the game, Brown picked up his fourth foul, forcing him to sit down with 26 points and 12 rebounds at that point. Alabama quickly was able to go on a 6-0 run, cutting into the Missouri lead that had gotten up to 18 points.
Missouri's production did not dwindle, however, and the Tigers continued to hold a double-digit lead until the 3:39 mark.
Alabama fought back into the game with quality paint touches, threatening the Missouri lead at 84-78 with 1:14 remaining.
After a Keon Ellis step back three, Alabama trailed by just five. Brown brought the ball up for Missouri, but he stepped on the sideline with 28 seconds remaining, giving Alabama life.
Quinerly turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, giving Missouri's DaJuan Gordon a transition dunk. Alabama was not quite out of it, though, as Shackelford hit a clutch three from the wing to cut the lead to four with 15 seconds on the clock.
Ultimately, Alabama could not find a late escape to the Tigers tremendous effort as Missouri was able to close out the game.
Missouri had four of its five starters finish with double-digit scoring, with the fifth player scoring nine. The Tigers' starters carried the upset effort, as Alabama outscored Missouri in bench points 27 to 5.
Entering Saturday's game, Missouri was second from the bottom of the list in three point shooting on the year with only 65 threes made (South Florida has 56). That narrative was flipped, as the Tigers matched the Crimson Tide, who is known for taking and making a lot of threes, shooting 9-of-24 from behind the arc.
Brown, who hails from Alabama, finished with a massive double-double in 30 points and 13 boards.
"Nobody could really guard Kobe Brown for us today," Oats said.
Quinerly led Alabama in scoring with his second straight 19-point performance, despite not making a shot from deep.
For the Crimson Tide, the road trip ends on a bad note. It is Alabama's fourth loss of the year, with all of the losses coming in games that the Crimson Tide was favored.
"All four losses we've got, we shouldn't have lost any of them in our opinion," Oats said. "Our effort is not where it needs to be.
"If we don't get our defense figured out, we're not going to be competing for any championships this year."
No. 9 Auburn is next on the schedule for Nate Oats and company, with that game tipping off at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum.