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Missouri's Brown looks to rebound against Alabama

Missouri's Brown looks to rebound against Alabama

February 22nd, 2014 in News
Missouri's Jabari Brown is surrounded by Tennessee's Josh Richardson (left) and Derek Reese during last Saturday's game in Columbia. Brown is hoping to bounce back from a tough outing against Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Missouri's Jabari Brown is surrounded by Tennessee's Josh...

Photo by The Associated Press/News Tribune.

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Jabari Brown is certainly in the conversation for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.

Despite his 10-point performance during Missouri's 67-64 win against Vanderbilt on Wednesday, the junior guard still averages 20.1 points per game, good for second in the league.

So don't expect Brown to stay down as Missouri (19-7, 7-6 SEC) hits the road to take on Alabama (10-16, 4-9 SEC) at 7 p.m. today (ESPN2-TV) in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"I think there was a solar eclipse (Wednesday) or something because you rarely see him miss shots that he's used to taking and making," said Jordan Clarkson, Brown's backcourt mate. "I think this is just a one-time game. He's human like everybody else. He's going to be right back to his old self in these next games."

Brown's outing against Vanderbilt, a game where he went 3-for-11 from the field, tied his season-low. He was held to that figure in a loss to Illinois in late December.

"I just don't think he had a good night," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said of Brown's game. "He never got into a flow. Whether we had some to do with that defensively I'm not sure. He just never really got untracked. I think that probably had more to do with him than it had to do with us, honestly."

Based on his recent track record in SEC play, Brown shouldn't have much trouble rebounding from that lackluster performance. The 6-foot-5 guard averages 21.8 ppg in SEC games, while leading the league in 3-point percentage (48.6).

"Obviously he's human," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. "I think Jordan said it best. He had some tough moments. I think he pressed a little bit, but I think almost all of our guys did. ... We have to learn how to relax and let the game come to us. He's usually been very good at that. Obviously he had some tough plays. But he came through when we needed him to come through."

Brown leads one of the best backcourts in the SEC, and maybe the nation. Clarkson adds 18.8 ppg while Earnest Ross chips in 14.3 ppg.

"Missouri's just really talented," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "You have three guys that are really good basketball players and play well off each other. ... I don't know how they're all doing in the league right now but I think those three guys when they're playing well together, they're as good as any combination in our league."

Alabama counters with Trevor Releford, an All-SEC first team selection last season who averages 19.0 ppg this year. The 6-foot senior was a second-team selection the year before and an all-freshman honoree in 2011.

"I think he's a tremendous competitor," Grant said. "I think you can take a look at what he's been able to accomplish not only this year but over the course of his career. He's been an all-league performer form the day he stepped on campus. You can see what he's been able to do this year. Every night he's getting the team's best defender and the team's focus. He goes out there and makes plays and gives us a chance to win every night. He competes to win. ... I think he plays with great heart, great passion for the game every night that he's out there."

Another guard, 6-foot-1 Retin Obasohan, is the only other Crimson Tide player in double figures at 10.0 ppg.

Missouri did a terrific job on Releford when the teams met Jan. 18 in Columbia. The Tigers held him to 10 points on their way to a 68-47 victory. The Tigers led just 31-30 at halftime before running away with the win in the second half. Brown scored 24 points in the first meeting.

"Clarkson was in foul trouble in the first half, he came out very aggressive in the second half," Grant said of that game. "Defensively their zone really caused us some problems. We had a real tough time manufacturing offense in the second half. I think we scored something like (17) points in the second half. Their aggressiveness on the offensive end with Clarkson and they're an explosive offense team (were reasons for Missouri's second-half surge). Defensively they really caused us some problems in terms of being able to get consistent offense."

Alabama just shot 29.2 percent from the field in that contest.

Today's road game comes after Missouri swept a three-game homestand from Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Can the Tigers take the show on the road?

"It gives us confidence, but going to Alabama is going to be tough," Clarkson said. "They have one of the best guards in our league and we're just going to have to lock him in and play defense, rebound, and do what we do."

Missouri is 2-4 on the road in SEC play this season, and 3-4 away from home overall.

The Tigers complete their two-game road trip Tuesday at Georgia. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.