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Tigers looking to bounce back from loss to Vanderbilt

Tigers looking to bounce back from loss to Vanderbilt

January 18th, 2014 in News
Alabama's Trevor Releford takes the ball to the basket while being pressured by Mississippi State's Fred Thomas during a game Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama's Trevor Releford takes the ball to the...

Photo by The Associated Press/News Tribune.

COLUMBIA, Mo. - There's no time for the Missouri Tigers to sulk.

Coming off a disappointing 78-75 loss Thursday night at Vanderbilt, a quick turnaround has Missouri (13-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) hosting Alabama (8-8, 2-1) at 1 p.m. today at Mizzou Arena.

"We've got to get ourselves to get back, we got to get ready for an Alabama team that's coming in off a great win and a very talented group," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said Thursday night.

Alabama is coming off an 80-61 victory against Mississippi State on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide, like the Tigers, feature a loss to Georgia on their conference schedule. Alabama opened SEC play with a five-point win against Vanderbilt.

Now Missouri hopes to begin a new home-court winning streak after a nation-best 26-game streak was broken with that loss to Georgia last week.

"We have to focus," Missouri junior guard Jabari Brown said. "We have to have a short memory, and we can't let one game turn into another. We still have a lot of games left to play."

The Crimson Tide boast the SEC's fourth-leading scorer in senior Trevor Releford at 18.9 points. The forward from Kansas City has averaged double figures all four years at Alabama, having increased his scoring output every season. He's also second in the league with 2.5 steals per game.

"Releford (is) one of the best players in this league," Haith said.

Said Alabama head coach Anthony Grant: "Trevor came into the league, and as a freshman was able to have an impact, which I think is a testament to his talent and his competitiveness. I think every year being in the league he's added something to his game. I think right now from an offensive standpoint, he's added more of a consistent perimeter shot, which forces opponents to play him differently. That's what you want to see, is guys improve every year. I think Trevor's been able to do that and expand his game, and I think it's testament to his work ethic and the kind of competitor he is.

"He's the type of guy that gives your team confidence when he's on the floor because you know he's going to compete to win."

Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan, a Belgium transplant, adds 12.3 points per game for the Crimson Tide. He tops the SEC with 2.6 steals per game.

Alabama doesn't boast a prolific scoring offense, ranking ninth in the SEC at 71.9 ppg, but picks it up on the defensive end by ranking fourth in the league by giving up 66.1 ppg.

Missouri, by comparison, promotes balance by ranking fifth in scoring at 75.0 ppg and fifth in scoring defense at 66.4 ppg.

Jordan Clarkson remains Missouri's leading scorer at 18.8 points, but has gone just 1-of-13 from 3-point range the past four games. Jabari Brown is close on his heels at 18.4 ppg, while Earnest Ross rounds out the double-figure scorers at 14.0 ppg.

"Missouri is obviously one of the better teams in terms of their ability to win at home," Grant said. "... You look at what they've accomplished. This will be a great week in terms of great competition for our team and great tests."

The good news for Missouri is the Tigers are 3-0 this season in games following one or zero days of rest.

"We've got to have better focus coming out," Brown said. "Got to be ready to play. We've got to have our minds ready to play. No excuses. Got to come out and be ready."