A four-game lead on every other team in the Southeastern Conference.
That is what’s at stake for the University of Alabama men’s basketball team when it travels to Columbia to tangle with No. 18 Missouri on Saturday morning (11 a.m, CT).
After another beatdown of LSU on Wednesday night, the 10th-ranked Crimson Tide is 15-4 overall and 10-0 in league play for the first time in 65 years. A win over the Tigers would give coach Nate Oats and company a path to the school’s first SEC regular-season title since 2002.
The Crimson Tide’s three-point shooing has cooled off recently, but thanks to hard-nosed defense, it has won three of its last four.
Meanwhile, Missouri (12-3, 5-3 SEC) eked out a 75-50 victory over Kentucky on Wednesday evening behind 26 points from guard Dru Smith. The Tigers have won seven of its last nine games on its way to second place in the conference.
For the Crimson Tide to win its 11th straight league game, it must contain guard Xavier Pinson, who averages a team-high 15.1 points and 3.4 assists.
Without Jordan Bruner in the lineup, stopping forward Jeremiah Tilmon, who is third in scoring for the Tigers (13.5) and leads the team in rebounding (7.9) and blocks (1.3), will be of upmost importance.
This is the only meeting in the regular season between each school, so a win for either squad will go a long way for seeding in the NCAA tournament.
No. 10 Alabama at No. 18 Missouri
Where: Missouri Arena
When: 11 a.m. CT, Saturday
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network
Last time out, Alabama: The Crimson Tide manhandled LSU, 78-60, to earn the regular-season sweep of the Bayou Bengals. Sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford poured in a team-high 19 points, while Alabama’s bench outscored LSU, 34-7.
Last time out, Missouri: The Tigers had to overcome a second-half surge from Kentucky to pull away from the Wildcats in the waning moments, 75-70. Guard Xavier Pinson added 14 points and three steals to go alongside Smith’s 26 points. Missouri also shot well-above its season average from three-point range, which is 31 percent, going 9-of-21 from deep.
The series: This will only be the 17th meeting between these two schools. Alabama leads the series all-time with a record of 11-5. The Crimson Tide is 3-3 all-time on the road in Columbia. Overall, Alabama has won seven of the 11 meetings since Missouri joined the SEC dating back to Jan. 8, 2013.
More on the last meeting: In last year’s regular-season finale, Alabama had its worst offensive showing of the Oats era, losing 69-50 inside Missouri Arena. Guard Kira Lewis dropped a game-high 18 points and four assists. The Crimson Tide shot 16 percent from three-point range (4-of-25) and only 30 percent from the field (14-of-46).