STARKVILLE, Miss. — In a game that came down to the final shot, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team (12-4, 3-1 SEC) defeated No. 24 Alabama (11-6, 2-3 SEC) 78-76 Saturday night inside Humphrey Coliseum.
Sophomore forward Andersson Garcia made a free throw with 3.7 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up 78-76. Alabama senior guard Keon Ellis then had a chance for a game-winning 3-pointer, but it rimmed out to give MSU the win.
Junior guard Iverson Molinar finished with a game-high 24 points for the Bulldogs. He also had six rebounds and four assists, while graduate forward Garrison Brooks had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Shakeel Moore added 15 points, including going 9-for-9 at the free-throw line.
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball. MSU shot 24-for-59 (40.7%) from the floor and 2-for-16 (12,5%) from 3-point range. Alabama shot 22-for-56 (39.3%), including 8-for-29 (27.6%) behind the arc.
Alabama was led by junior guard Jaden Shackleford with 17 points, while Ellis and sophomore forward Darius Miles each added 14 points and freshman center Charles Bediako had 11.
The first half featured 15 lead changes and five ties. The Bulldogs held a 36-33 advantage with 2:50 left in the half, but the Crimson Tide closed the half on an 8-1 run to claim a 41-37 halftime lead.
In the second half, Alabama led 46-42 with 17:28 to play before MSU went on an 11-5 spurt to regain the lead at 53-51 with 13:25 left. The Crimson Tide responded by scoring nine of the next 11 points to take a 60-55 lead with 10:17 remaining.
The Bulldogs then used runs of 12-4 and 8-3 to take an eight-point lead at 75-67 with 1:34 to play. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Miles and Ellis brought Alabama within 75-73 with 42 seconds left.
Moore made two free throws for MSU with 14 seconds left before Ellis hit three free throws in a row with 3.7 seconds left to make it 77-76. Garcia then went to the free-throw line and missed his first attempt. Ellis then missed the potential game-winning 3-point shot.
The Bulldogs will return to action Wednesday when they hit the road to face the Florida Gators at 5:30 p.m. CT.