TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State struggled out the gates and failed to recover, dropping an 80-61 decision to Alabama Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum.
With the win, Alabama improved to 8-8 overall and 2-1 in league play. MSU fell to 11-5 and 1-2. Alabama has won four straight in the series, including six straight in this arena.
“We didn’t do a real good job of handing adversity,” MSU sophomore forward Gavin Ware said. “It’s like coach told us, we have to play together as a team and learn how to handle adversity. When some things went wrong in this game, we didn’t really respond.”
The Bulldogs scored the game’s opening basket and did not lead again. Alabama quickly built a 12-5 lead as Rodney Cooper scored five points over the space of three possessions.
MSU battled back to a 12-9 deficit on a layup by Colin Borchert. The Bulldogs then closed within one before a 14-5 run by the Crimson Tide ran the lead to 29-19 with 5:32 left before halftime.
A dangerous trend was being developed as the Bulldogs were struggling on the defensive end. Alabama hit 13-of-27 shots in the first half for 48.1 percent shooting. The late push towards the half sent the Crimson Tide to a 38-26 advantage at the break.
“I was really disappointed in how we played,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “You could tell in the shoot around, that we were not really locked in, tied down. Sometimes this team gets caught up when it has success. It doesn’t understand that this is a new game and you can’t get caught up in the success.
“We were taking too many jump shots and not really attacking the rim aggressively.”
The Bulldogs closed within 10 on three different occasions early in the second half before a 20-7 run by the hosts put the contest out of reach.
For Alabama, Trevor Releford continued his string play against MSU, by scoring a game-high 28 points. Releford hit 10-of-13 shots, including 6-of-9 shots from 3-point land.
“We weren’t locked in on the defensive end,” MSU sophomore guard Craig Sword said. “We didn’t play with the focus you have to have to really control a great player.”
Alabama also received 12 points from Shannon Hale, 11 points from Retin Obasohan and 10 points from Cooper.
Gavin Ware led MSU with 18 points, while Sword had 12 points.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 22 of 50 shots from the field (44.0 percent), 3 of 10 shots from 3-point range (30.0 percent) and 14 of 18 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent).The Crimson Tide hit 30 of 57 shots from the field (52.6 percent), 10 of 25 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent).
Alabama held a 33-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Crimson Tide had 17 assists and 11 turnovers.
MSU hosts Texas A&M at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The contest will be televised regionally by The SEC Network from the Humphrey Coliseum.