COLUMBIA, Mo. — Dru Smith and No. 18 Missouri built a 22-point lead in the second half, then held off a frantic rally by No. 10 Alabama for a 68-65 victory on Saturday.
The Tigers held their largest lead with 13:05 left and were still up by 20 with less than six minutes remaining.
Missouri's only points after that came on four free throws. The Crimson Tide started scoring on nearly every possession and Herb Jones had two chances to give Alabama the lead in the final 20 seconds, but he missed a layup and had another try blocked by Mitchell Smith.
Dru Smith had 16 points and eight rebonds for the Tigers (13-3, 6-3 Southeastern Conference). Kobe Brown added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Mark Smith finished with 12 points.
Jaden Shackelford scored 15 to lead Alabama (15-5, 10-1 SEC), whose first conference loss was almost an incredible comeback victory.
The Tigers built their lead by outrunning the Crimson Tide in transition and outmuscling them inside. Missouri finished with 46 points in the paint.
Alabama is a volume 3-point shooting team, and when the Crimson Tide missed, Missouri started fast breaks with long rebounds. The Tigers scored 13 fast-break points in the first half and took a 44-28 lead at intermission.
It got worse before it got better for Alabama, which got 12 points apiece from Jaden Quinerly and Keon Ellis. The Crimson Tide had their chances, too, with Alex Reese and James Rojas missing dunks and the making just 12 of 21 free throws.
Alabama: Despite the loss, the Crimson Tide remain in firm control of the SEC race and have a good opportunity to pull away from the pack in the next two weeks with four straight games against teams in the bottom half of the standings.
Missouri: The Tigers, who were picked 10th in the SEC preseason poll, are alone in second place in the league. The victory over Alabama was Missouri’s third this season against a team ranked in the AP top 10 at the time of the game.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide travel to South Carolina on Tuesday.
Missouri: The Tigers visit Mississippi on Wednesday.