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Undermanned Mizzou basketball no match for No. 4 Alabama

Undermanned Mizzou basketball no match for No. 4 Alabama

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With their best player scratched shortly before tip-off, the Missouri Tigers hung with No. 4 Alabama for about a half but couldn’t match the Crimson Tide’s firepower with leading scorer Kobe Brown on the bench.

Less than 30 minutes before the start of Saturday’s sold-out game, Mizzou announced that Brown would miss the game while nursing the ankle injury he suffered late against Arkansas on Wednesday, thrusting freshman Aidan Shaw into the starting lineup for the first time this season.

“Our student-athlete’s health is our top priority,” Tigers coach Dennis Gates said in a statement released 26 minutes before the start game. “For Kobe’s long-term future and success, I have elected to rest him tonight and not risk any further injury by allowing his ankle to properly heal.”

Still, the Tigers led with six minutes left in a back-and-forth first half, but the Tide closed the half on a 15-5 run and dominated the second half in an 85-64 victory, snapping their three-game losing streak at Mizzou Arena. MU’s point total matched its season low.

Mizzou fell to 14-5 and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference play and now faces a quick turnaround ahead of Tuesday’s game at Ole Miss. Alabama, alone in first place in the SEC, moved to 17-2 and 7-0 in league play. All seven of the Tide’s SEC wins have come by double-digit margins.

Isiaih Mosley led the Tigers with 19 points on a night Mizzou shot just 3 of 28 from 3-point range and missed 19 of its first 20 shots from deep.

Noah Clowney and Mark Sears led four Alabama players in double figures with 17 points apiece.

Already without Brown, the team’s top scorer (15.6 points per game) and rebounder (5.6), Gates’ lineup was further depleted just minutes into the game when starting forward Noah Carter headed to the locker room with a cut above his right eye. By then starting guard Tre Gomillion was already seated with two fouls. Reserve guard Kaleb Brown, Kobe’s younger brother, was also unavailable with a non-COVID illness.

The Tigers held their own early against the nation’s fourth-ranked team with Mosley becoming the team’s offensive centerpiece. In his second game back from a six-game stay on the bench, Mosley scored six of MU’s first 10 points and put the Tigers ahead 14-3 with a lob pass to Shaw for a crowd-exploding reverse dunk. Mizzou missed its first eight 3-pointers until D’Moi Hodge finally connected from deep, putting the Tigers back in front 19-18. It was their last lead of the day as the Tide overpowered Gates’ team with their deep collection of scorers.

Mizzou missed eight straight shots from the end of the first half and the start of the second as the Tide pulled away. Four different Bama players connected on 3-pointers before the 12-minute media timeout.

A 7-0 run got the Tigers within 13 of the lead with eight minutes left in the half, but after a timeout from Alabama, the Tide quickly restored order and re-established their place on top of the SEC standings.