Missouri at Alabama
WHEN/WHERE: 8 p.m. Wednesday at Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
TV/RADIO: ESPN2; KMBZ (980 AM)
Keys for Missouri (13-8, 3-5 SEC)
Stop Collin Sexton: The freshman guard is a projected NBA lottery pick in June and comes into the game averaging nearly 20 points a game. Graduate transfer Kassius Robertson said shutting down Sexton is the primary thing Missouri has to do on defense if it is to leave Alabama with a win since the Crimson Tide’s offense runs through him. “He has the ball in his hands a lot. We have to try and cut the head off the snake for sure,” Robertson said.
Get the most out of Jeremiah Tilmon: Tilmon logged 24 minutes and finished with six points and five rebounds in Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State. Coach Cuonzo Martin said he thought Tilmon was timid defensively to avoid foul trouble. “He’s better when he’s playing hard,” Martin said. “If he’s playing cautious he might as well sit with me.”
Have Jordan Barnett hit shots early: The 6-foot-7 senior wing scored just five points Saturday and only took one shot in the second half. Junior forward Kevin Puryear said last week that he doesn’t worry about Barnett offensively since he’s one of the team’s most reliable scorers. Barnett has said in the past he can get stuck in shooting threes when he’s in a groove early, but generally speaking, when he’s hitting shots early it is good for Missouri’s offense.
Keys for Alabama (14-7, 5-3 SEC)
Get players not named ‘Collin Sexton’ going: Alabama has three other players aside from Sexton averaging more than 10 points a game going into Wednesday. Missouri will make Sexton the priority on defense, so getting other guys going will make the Tigers have their hands full.
Go after Tilmon: With Tilmon playing timidly on defense in order to avoid foul trouble, Alabama attacking the paint would be a good way to get points on the board. And maybe the Tide can get Tilmon to pick up a few fouls along the way. Missouri has a slight size advantage over Alabama, and Tide coach Avery Johnson is going to want to take that away.
Take away the three: Missouri has struggled to shoot three-pointers lately, which has been the bread and butter of the offense. When Missouri is hitting threes, it can beat anyone. When it’s not, it will get into a rut like it’s currently in. If Missouri is struggling from beyond the arc early in the game, it’s going to be a long night for the Tigers.