Alabama Missouri

Alabama lets chance for signature win slip away, Laurence Bowers injured in Missouri victory

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Alabama had its chance to be the bully Monday night when it dominated Notre Dame on the football field, 42-14, to win the BCS National Championship Game.

Tuesday night on the basketball court, it was the Crimson Tide playing the role of Notre Dame football, falling to No. 10 Missouri, 84-68, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Alabama, fighting for a quality win in the comparably weak SEC, started the game 2-of-11 from the floor and fell behind by 10 points.

But coach Anthony Grant dialed up the pressure on Missouri’s catalyst, point guard Phil Pressey, and slowed the Tigers’ transition game. By attacking Pressey with double teams defensively, the Crimson Tide forced turnovers and used those stops to rip off a 12-0 and take the lead by three points with 7:08 remaining in the first.

Where Pressey has been Missouri’s distributor, Alabama point guard Trevor Releford led the scoring charge Tuesday night.

His 19 first-half points carried the Alabama attack, but his backcourt counterpart Trevor Lacey went scoreless in the first half.

Lacey was hot in the second half by scoring nine points, but Missouri used a 9-3 run in the middle of the half to extend the lead to double digits.

Pressey found his usual comfort zone after a shaky spell for part of the first half, getting into the lane and finishing with 11 points and 13 assists.

Jabari Brown was hot from three-point range. He finished with a career-high 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three. Laurence Bowers was another major beneficiary of Pressey’s dribble penetration, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 from the field.

On the injury front, Bowers left the game limping in the second half and coach Frank Haith reportedly announced postgame that the senior would undergo an MRI tomorrow. Haith expressed concern that Bowers could have an MCL sprain in his right knee. The senior has had a strong 2012-13 so far after recovering from major surgery on his left knee that kept him out for the entire 2011-12 season.

Looking at Alabama’s schedule, the Tide really only have two more marquee matchups in the regular season: Jan. 22 against Kentucky and March 2 against No. 11 Florida.

By missing out on a chance to notch a big road win Tuesday, any NCAA tournament hopes get dimmer for Alabama. An 8-5 non-conference schedule with losses to Tulane and Mercer, combined with a conference slate devoid of a signature win typically doesn’t translate into an NCAA tournament bid.

It’s not out of the question that only three SEC teams make the NCAA tournament. Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri should be in the field of 68, if all goes as planned, but it drops off noticeably after that.

Ole Miss could be in the mix, though their two losses came to Indiana State and Middle Tennessee. Arkansas lost all four non-conference games that could have been quality wins (Syracuse, Michigan, Arizona State, Wisconsin). LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M.

Who else could emerge and punch a ticket to the tournament?

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.