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It’s a Win – UA Basketball defeats MSU

A smaller than normal crowd showed up to see Alabama take on Mississippi State at Coleman Coliseum tonight.  Although, it was a good showing for a mid-week game to see the Tide get the big win (64-56) and retain sole possession of second place in the SEC.  Alabama is now 18-8 on the year and 10-3 in league play while the Bulldogs fall to 7-18 (2-11 SEC). The win also secures a winning SEC season for the Crimson Tide for their third consecutive year, the last time that happened was the 1994-1996 seasons.

The Tide starters remained the same as the last several games with Lacy, Releford, Gueye, Randolph, Cooper. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead but that was their only time to lead the entire night.  The Crimson Tide led by as many as 12 throughout the game and there was really never a point where the Bulldogs made it very close.

Both teams really didn’t play that well on offense in the first half as both teams combined for 18-55 and passing was sloppy for both sides.  Alabama came away with 18 steals on the night which is only second behind their season-high of 22 against Jacksonville St.  Alabama closed out the first half 31-20.

The second half wasn’t much prettier for either team but the shooting was better with a combined 50% field goal percentage. The Bulldogs made it a little closer and came within four but with about five min remaining in the game Alabama seemed to step it up a notch and went on a 5-0 run to bring the lead back to nine. That was the closest Miss. State would get as the Tide never looked back and ended the game 64-56.

“It wasn’t pretty, but the end result is we’re 10-3 [in the SEC],” UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. “I think if you look at some of the offensive highlights, obviously Cooper today had a double-double, 20-10. I thought Releford gave us great energy in the second half. I thought some of the defensive plays that he made really helped change the game.”

The Crimson Tide held true to form with their defense on the night. Coach Grant’s teams play a tough defense and score enough to win and that is what this team does.  They just seem to win. [Side-note] It’s kind of funny if you think about it though, it the complete opposite mentality for fans when it comes to football.  The SEC is used to seeing tough, hard fought, “great” defensive games when it comes to football but no one really wants to see a defensive basketball game. It’s all about the points.  Maybe that is why this Alabama team is not getting the attention nationally.  Just something to ponder…

Now, back to the game…

The highlight of the game tonight was Rodney Cooper.  He had a heck of a game leading the Crimson Tide tonight with 20 points and 10 rebounds, making it his first double-double this season and the second one among the Crimson Tide all year. Trevor Lacey and Trevor Releford added to the point total for the win with 28 points and 8 rebounds.  Lacy would foul out with a little over two minutes left in the game but Pollard, Cooper and Obasohan filled in as needed to finish out the game.

“We were able to come up with some big defensive stops,” Grant said. “We were able to come up with some steals that allowed us to extend the lead very late in the last couple of minutes. We had some big steals that got us to the free-throw line to preserve the win.”

Jacobs came out of the game midway through the second half with his lower back tightening up a little and Randolph seemed to tweak his knee on a very strange play. Musa Gueye seemed to nearly run over Randolph and break him in half but the sophomore guard from Madison came back in for several minutes and seemed to be fine.

Alabama travels to Baton Rouge on Saturday, Feb. 23 to face LSU. The game is scheduled to tip at 12:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by SEC Network.

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