Fortune was not on the side of Mississippi State in the team’s pursuit to record its first conference win on the road.
A closely contested beginning of the game quickly got away from the Bulldogs (14-8, 3-6 SEC) after Alabama (16-6, 8-1 SEC), the nation’s scoring leader, found a spark midway through the first half and never looked back to amass a lopsided 99-67 victory.
Mississippi State opened up the game on good footing, taking the lead three different times, but things took a turn for the worst in the last 10 minutes of the half. With 9:29 left on the clock, MSU star center Tolu Smith converted on a layup attempt to put the Bulldogs down 18-16.
Then the tide turned. Alabama, led by Mark Sears and Mouhamed Dioubate, closed out the half on a 29-8 run to hold a 47-24 lead at the midway break. Smith had scored all eight of the Bulldogs’ points down the stretch.
On an optimistic note, the Bulldogs scored at a higher volume in the second half. However, so did the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State somewhat ate into Alabama’s lead in the first three minutes of the half, but the three-ball started to fall for Nate Oats’ team.
A Jarin Steven triple followed up by an Aaron Estrada layup gave the Crimson Tide a 30-point advantage with more than 13 minutes left of action, and that pretty much summed up the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs continued to score and fight to get back into the game, but that ship had continued to sail further and further away with each bucket Alabama connected on — and they connected on many.
Mississippi State’s 44 second-half points far surpassed what the team had accomplished in the first 20 minutes, but it proved futile with Alabama putting 52 on the scoreboard to round out the regular season sweep over the Bulldogs.
Oats made it his mission to have his team shut down freshman sensation Josh Hubbard, and it worked for the most part. Hubbard had a quiet outing, scoring just seven points in the contest. Smith led the Bulldogs offensively with 23 points. Shakeel Moore scored 13 and Shawn Jones Jr. posted 10.
The Crimson Tide had four players surpass double-digits in scoring. Sears led the way with 21, Estrada had 15, and Dioubate and Stevenson had 14 apiece.
Alabama dominated Saturday’s contest in just about every statistical category. The Crimson Tide won the turnover battle, grabbed offensive boards, and fought harder for loose balls, resulting in 28 more shot attempts in the game.
In addition, Alabama connected on 15 triples for 45 points compared to Mississippi State’s 12 points from behind the arc. MSU scored more from the charity stripe, making 19 of 32 free throw attempts. Nonetheless, the Crimson Tide were a perfect 10-10 from the line. Alabama also hauled in 11 more rebounds than the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State will look to get right at home against Georgia on Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT.
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