Alabama is one of the toughest teams in the nation to stifle. The Crimson Tide rank sixth in the nation averaging 82.8 points per game and, according to KenPom, have an offensive efficiency rating of 115.8 points per 100 possessions, ranking 21st in the country.
The team eliminated Missouri from the SEC tournament on Saturday, defeating the Tigers 72-61. But the defensive performance by Mizzou was notable. The 72 points Alabama scored were tied for the third-fewest in any of their wins this season.
“We were definitely just trying to make their catches harder, extend their catches, you know, trying not to let them get comfortable on the 3-point line,” senior forward Kobe Brown said. “We know they didn’t want to take as many layups, so we tried to force them to the rim and take away their kick-outs so they wouldn’t have anything.”
The Crimson Tide have taken a high volume of shots from outside all year long. Treys make up 47.6% of the team’s field goal attempts, which ranks eight in the NCAA, and account for 36.5% of the points it’s scored this year, which ranks 34th.
Mizzou did everything it could to ensure Alabama didn’t get hot from distance. The Crimson Tide missed all of their first 10 triples to open Saturday’s game. They’d gone just 2-15 from deep heading into halftime.
“That was our game plan,” senior guard DeAndre Gholston said. “You know, that team thrives on 3-point shots, as everyone knows. So we wanted to stay high, stay up on the switch and things like that just to take away 3s. The second half, we kind of got behind, kind of gave up a couple of 3s. They pushed in transition a little more and that hurt us, that hurt us.”
Alabama missed its first five 3-point attempts to begin the second half, allowing the Tigers to take a small lead. But the Crimson Tide went on to make all of their next six 3s to pull ahead by double digits. Freshman forwards Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney led the way for the team, each player going 3-6. Missouri couldn’t keep pace, the team going through its own struggles along the perimeter, shooting 7-25 from long range.
“Brandon Miller is a great player,” MU head coach Dennis Gates said. “I thought the first half, we did a good job staying out of rotation, meaning we weren’t allowing ourselves to give up those 3s. In the second half, he was able to get the end of a rotation, meaning whether it was a two-pass rotation, three-pass rotation, and the reward was wide-open shots while we were scrambling. His teammates did a great job finding him. They did a great job spacing. Ultimately, I thought they did do a better job than us sustaining more runs, which he was a part of. Nothing that I didn’t think they could do originally. I just thought we did a better job in the first half than the second.”
The Tigers should get another opportunity to show off its improved defense once the team finds out who it’ll play in the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday.
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