We all knew that this was coming at some point. Wednesday night, MSU's lack of depth and size, something that had remained under the surface for a majority of the season, glared brightly as Alabama took advantage of both and ran away from MSU, winning 75-43.
The game remained quite close early on, as Alabama and MSU traded baskets and sloppy turnovers, providing a slow scoring and somewhat arduous game to watch. But towards the end of the first half, Alabama began to make the baskets that they were missing earlier in the half, while MSU struggled to find rhythm and avoid turnovers on their end of the court. As the Bulldogs went into the half down 30-22, we all knew that they would need a very strong second half opening to get back in the game.
That strong opening never came, as the Crimson Tide extended its 12-3 first half ending run into a 27-3 by opening the second half with five straight three-pointers, and quickly a single digit game turned into a blowout. The rest of the game [full stats here] would see Alabama add to its lead, and when the final horn sounded, State held its first SEC loss of the season.
Although it seems quite easy to get frustrated with this team's performance last night, we all knew this type of game was coming. State had been riding a wave of solid performances, and we knew if they had a down game, things could be disastrous. That down game came as State turned the ball over trip after trip, forced bad shots, and simply was outmanned on the defensive end. They were defending Alabama, but a more rangy Crimson Tide team was having no problem putting the ball in the basket.
Flat top Fred Thomas led all Bulldog scorers with 10 points, while Alabama had four players in double figures, led by Levi Randolph, who scored 18 to lead the way for the crimson and white. While both teams shot similarly in the first half (Bama 40%, MSU 38%), the Tide shot an astounding 67.8% in the second half, while MSU shot only 33%. That shooting, coupled with a nine turnover advantage (MSU had 21, Bama 12) was more than enough to help the Tide coast easily to a win at the Hump.
Mississippi State moves on to take on the Tennessee Volunteers this upcoming Saturday in Knoxville at Thompson-Bowling Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on the SEC Network regionally.