In their first game as the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Alabama had to overcome a difficult first half to defeat the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 66-63. With their win over the Bulldogs Wednesday, Alabama completed the regular season sweep of Mississippi State and moved to 18-2 overall with an undefeated 8-0 record in the SEC.
Alabama put together its worst first half of the season both offensively and defensively. The Crimson Tide offense was held to just 33% shooting in the first half leading to just 29 points. This was just the second time this season Alabama had been held under 30 points in the first half with the only other time against at the time No. 1 Houston. Alabama’s shooting from behind the arc was ice cold, hitting just three of their 16 attempts in the first half. Defensively, the Tide’s first half wasn’t any better as they allowed Mississippi State to score 36 first half points on 56.7% shooting and went into halftime down 36-29.
The Bulldogs found success by dominating in the paint, something the Crimson Tide normally does to their opponent. Mississippi State outscored the Crimson Tide in the paint 40-26, making it just the third time this season that Alabama lost the battle of points in the paint. Both of the other two times that the Tide lost the points in the paint battle resulted in losses. Alabama did edge out the Bulldogs in the rebounding battle 36-33 led by Noah Clowney’s game high eight rebounds.
Alabama had three players score in double figures, led by Quinerly coming off the bench with 14 points. Nine of his 14 points came in the second half as he helped lead the Crimson Tide to victory down the stretch. Both Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney chipped in 13 points each with Clowney doing most of his damage in the second half scoring 10 of his 13 points in the final 20 minutes.
Despite Alabama’s offense really struggling throughout the game, the Crimson Tide showed signs of a team built for March by battling back against a tough Mississippi State squad and securing their 18th win of the season.
Next up for Alabama is a road game against Oklahoma Saturday Jan 28, as the Crimson Tide step outside of SEC play to participate in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
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