Alabama Stays Undefeated in SEC Play with Win Over Mississippi State
No. 2 Alabama (18-2, 8-0) remains undefeated in conference play with a hard-fought 66-63 win over Mississippi State (12-8, 1-7) in Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Alabama started the game down early, and spent the first half trying to claw its way back into the game, resulting in them closing the gap to as little as three points and trailing by as much as 11. The halftime score ended up being 36-29. The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs both took 30 shots in the first half, but Mississippi State hit 17 of theirs while Alabama only hit 10.
Spending the first part of the second half trying to close the deficit, Alabama finally took its first lead of the game with 9:23 left, and took the lead for good with 6:39 remaining, courtesy of a Noah Clowney dunk. While the Tide did eventually grab and hold onto the lead, the Bulldogs still fought to stay in the game, coming back from down eight late to bring it to within one score with a chance to tie it on the final possession. However, Noah Gurley blocked the would-be game-tying three pointer with two seconds left and time expired before Mississippi State had the chance to attempt another three.
"Our energy got better, played harder," said Alabama head coach Nate Oats about the difference of how the team played between the first half and the second half. "We picked it up, we figured out a way to get a win. If you're going to win an SEC Championship, you got to win some games you don't play your best."
Jahvon Quinerly led the way scoring for the Tide with 14 points, while Brandon Miller and Clowney each added 13. This close win extended both Alabama's win streak and its streak of holding opponents to below 70 points to nine straight games.
With Alabama hitting five less shots than Mississippi State, going 5-28 from three, and turning the ball over 22 times, the game changer was free throws and bench points, in which the Tide made 11 more and 18 more than the Bulldogs respectively.
"I think we'll bounce back," said Oats. "A mature group can come in after a win and learn just as much as they can after a loss. So we didn't play as well as we need to, hopefully we learn the lessons we need to after a win and get a little bit better on Saturday."
The Crimson Tide looks to extended its winning streak to 10 on the road against Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. CT. Coverage will be on Tide100.9.
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