TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Lackluster energy to begin both the first and second halves proved to ultimately not matter as Alabama basketball led a wild comeback victory over Missouri on Saturday inside Coleman Coliseum, 86-76.
Despite the Tigers shooting 48 percent from both the floor and beyond the arc, the Crimson Tide ultimately overcame 14-point deficits in both halves in the come-from-behind win. While Alabama fell just two weeks ago at Missouri in a game that ultimately was the start of a three-game skid, the Crimson Tide was able to avenge the loss on Saturday.
"It was a well-needed win," Alabama coach Nate Oats said after the game. "We didn't play well to start the game, but I thought our guys showed some resilience and fight and figured out how to fight back."
The first half started similarly to the game that took place in Columbia two weeks ago, with the Tigers jumping out to a 14-3 lead before the first media timeout. With Oats and Alabama growing desperate to calm down Missouri, the Crimson Tide subbed in senior guard Britton Johnson in order to light a spark in the team's effort department.
The move managed to get the crowd into the game, and a layup and three rebounds over the span of three minutes on the court for Johnson cut the Tigers' lead to seven points.
Missouri didn't slow down, though. By the 11:39 mark, the Tigers had leapt out to a 21-7 lead powered by consistency from both beyond the arc and in the paint.
A three-pointer by Keon Ellis at the 11:25 mark seemed to inspire the Crimson Tide, as the squad in crimson and white conducted an 18-4 run that tied the game at 25. Missouri ended the run with back-to-back successful offensive possessions, and the remainder of the first half went back and forth, with the Tigers holding a narrow edge.
At halftime, Alabama trailed Missouri 40-36.
While Missouri had shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, Alabama shot only 32 percent — including just 28 percent from beyond the arc. The Crimson Tide held a small 22-20 edge in rebounds, but trailed in points in the paint by a remarkable 22-12.
At the 17:37 mark of the second half, Missouri was shooting a remarkable 50 percent from beyond the arc on the game, having made seven of 14 shots from deep. An 8-0 run by the Tigers placed them firmly out in front, 52-45.
Missouri's eighth three of the evening gave the Tigers a 10-point lead with 15:20 to go in the game. At the ensuing under-16 media timeout, Missouri was shooting 56 percent from the floor and 53 percent from beyond the arc. Alabama had turned things around by shooting 5-for-6, but three turnovers proved costly in the second half's opening minutes.
"It seems that Missouri has their best shooting games against us every time we play them," Oats said. "At least this time we kept competing and and figured out a way to play hard, turn them over a little bit more."
A 7-2 run heading into the under-8 media timeout put the Crimson Tide back within striking distance, down 69-63. A three-pointer by Ellis put Alabama down by three, but Missouri responded with a jumper by Amari Davis.
Things started to tighten up, as Shackelford was fouled on the way up to the rim on the ensuing Alabama possession. With Shackelford hitting both of his free throws, the Crimson Tide pulled within three points once again, this time down 71-68.
After a short jumper by Missouri, Alabama freshman guard J.D. Davison hit his third three of the game. Ellis then stole the basketball at the Tigers' end of the court, but then lost possession. Jahvon Quinerly gained possession, sprinted down the court and sank the game-tying layup.
At 73-73, Coleman Coliseum shook from the floor to the rafters from the home crowd's response. The 14-4 run had given the Crimson Tide faithful hope. An offensive rebound by Shackelford led to a put-back layup by James Rojas, and the crowd went wild once again. For the first time since the opening minute of the game, Alabama had taken the lead.
Another put-back layup by Rojas put Alabama up by six, but a three by Missouri's Trevon Brazile narrowed the lead back down to 79-76 with 1:38 left to play.
A three-point basket by Shackelford got the crowd inside Coleman back on its feet once again. Missouri was forced to foul after Quinerly rebounded the ball at the opposite end, and the game began to wrap itself up as Alabama concluded the affair with and 18-3 run.
As the final clock expired, the scoreboard read 86-76 in favor of Alabama.
"As much as I hate to say it, I feel like when our back's against the wall, that's when we're at our best," Quinerly said. "Obviously we didn't start the game out how we wanted to, but like I said, when it's winning time, that's kind of when we're at our best so I'm not really surprised at how we ended the game. We just got to be better at starting the game."
With the win, Alabama rises to 13-6 overall and is 4-3 in SEC play. Missouri falls to 8-9 and is 2-3 in the conference.
Shackelford finished the game with the most points for the Crimson Tide with 21. Davison was right behind him with 17, and Quinerly finished with 13.
Shackelford also led Alabama in rebounds with seven. Rojas finished with six, and Quinerly finished with five. Johnson's three rebounds in three minutes were arguably the most impressive, though, and his one layup was named the play of the game by the Alabama staffers inside the stadium.
"We've been in a lot of close games all year and we dropped some close ones, so it felt good to just truly lock in when it's winning time," Shackelford said. "We do play well when our back's against the wall and it just felt really good to see everybody buy in."
Up next, Alabama will travel to Athens, Ga. next Tuesday to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. CT tip and will be broadcast on SEC Network.