Johnson Jr. leads Alabama men past Missouri


Alabama’s Galin Smith goes up for a shot in the lane against Missouri on Tuesday night in Columbia, Missouri.

Alabama’s Galin Smith goes up for a shot in the lane against Missouri on Tuesday night in Columbia, Missouri. Photo by: Alabama Athletic Media Relations


By The Associated Press



COLUMBIA, Mo. -- After losing Saturday on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in its second-consecutive defeat, the Alabama men's basketball team needed a pick-me-up performance against Missouri. 


Who better to turn morale around than the coach's son? 


Avery Johnson Jr. scored 14 points to lead Alabama to a 70-60 victory against Missouri on Wednesday. 


Johnson -- the son of Crimson Tide head coach Avery Johnson -- shattered his season high of four points. Johnson shot 5-for-10 from the field and compiled his highest points total since his career-high 23-point performance against South Carolina in February of 2017. 


"In warmups, I told our skills guy, 'This could be a nice little night for me,' " Johnson Jr. said. "I just want to win. If it's two points, 14, I just want to win. When you win, everybody eats." 


Alabama (11-5, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) took early control of the rebounding battle and outrebounded Missouri 37-29. The Crimson Tide has outrebounded opponents in 15 of their 16 games. 


Donta Hall scored 12 points and hauled in 11 boards, good for the senior forward's fifth double-double performance in his past six games. Hall leads SEC players with eight double-doubles this season. 


"Our guys found him," coach Johnson said. "Donta does a good job of moving around. He's not the most physically imposing guy. But he does a good job of being elusive inside." 


Mark Smith and Javon Pickett each added 13 points to lead Missouri (9-6, 0-3) in scoring. Smith -- who entered the game leading the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage (47.3 percent) -- drilled 4 of 9 3-pointers. The Tigers entered the game leading the SEC shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. They were 7-for-20 from 3-point range. 


Missouri's Jordan Geist had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-5 from 3. 


"Like I told our guys before we even got to this point, our margin of error is so slim," said Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team has lost three in a row after a six-game winning streak. "You have to fight one game at a time." 


Johnson Jr. struggled in the non-conference slate of games, averaging 1.4 points per game prior to the game against Missour. His father was delighted to see a breakout performance, and hopes it's a sign of things to come. 


"He's under the microscope because he's the coach's son," Johnson Sr. said. "He gave us some life. Just his spirit, he's a fifth-year guy. Tonight, we needed all 14 of those points." 


Missouri sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon fouled out in his previous three games and scored a combined 11 points. He started out slowly against Alabama, but he improved in the second half, battling in the post for eight points and seven rebounds.



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