Alabama Men’s Basketball Tops Mississippi State, 68-58, in SEC Opener
The Alabama men’s basketball team defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 68-58, to begin Southeastern Conference play on Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss. With the victory, the Crimson Tide claimed its fourth consecutive victory in Humphrey Coliseum for the first time in school history and defeated the Bulldogs for the seventh time in its last eight games.
Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram led the Tide with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while sophomore Avery Johnson Jr. also had 13 points to go along with five boards. Junior Riley Norris added 11 points to give the Tide three players in double figures.
“We got off to a really slow start tonight,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We couldn’t dig in defensively, but we started to get into a rhythm somewhere after the 15-minute mark in the first half. Our guys just locked in defensively, and it was fun to watch.”
Mississippi State (9-4, 0-1 SEC) started the game on a 9-3 run to take an early six-point lead with 15:36 left in the half. However, the Tide went on to outscore Mississippi State 29-11 over the final 14-plus minutes of the first half to take a 32-20 lead going into halftime.
The Tide (8-5, 1-0) shot 35 percent from the field in the first half, and it won the rebounding battle by a 25-18 margin. Alabama scored 16 of its 32 points in the paint, while limiting its counterparts to just six points between the blocks. The Tide limited the Bulldogs to 25 percent shooting and just 1-of-14 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run immediately coming out of intermission to trim Alabama’s lead to 32-28 with 18:15 left on the clock. Mississippi State continued to chip away at the Tide’s lead, as the Bulldogs managed to tie the score at 42-42 at the midway point of the second half.
With the score tied at 44, Alabama scored seven straight points to take a 51-44 lead with 8:19 remaining. That helped the Tide outscore the Bulldogs, 26-16, over the final 10-plus minutes of regulation to cruise to result in the final score.
“We went into halftime with a 12-point lead, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we can’t protect leads, but we showed some maturity tonight. I thought that our non-conference portion of the schedule was strong enough that we could survive some adversity through the course of a game, and we did that tonight. We finished the game strong, and I thought these two guys (Riley Norris and Dazon Ingram) played some outstanding defense on some perimeter players from Mississippi State. I’m really proud of our team and our coaching staff for getting our players ready to play.”
Alabama shot 44 percent from the field in the 40 minute contest and dominated the rebounding game by an imposing 43-26 margin. The Tide scored 38 of its points in the paint, while limiting the opposition to just 24 points in the lane.
The Tide will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 7, when it hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores at Coleman Coliseum for its SEC home opener. The contest is set to broadcast on ESPNU at 6 p.m. CT.