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Tough time with Tide: Dark night for MSU with loss to Alabama

January 17, 2013

Mississippi State guard Trivante Bloodman (4) tries to fight through a screen to catch up to Alabama's Trevor Lacey (5) Wednesday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The night started out dark inside Humphrey Coliseum and ended even darker on Mississippi State's chance of going 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

The Bulldogs (7-8, 2-1) fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-6, 2-1) 75-43 Wednesday night.

The power inside Humphrey Coliseum went out approximately an hour-and-a-half before tipoff. It came back on as the teams were stretching and attempting to shoot at 40 minutes before the start of the game.

Mississippi State was looking to continue its start hot to the conference season. The Bulldogs hadn't started 3-0 in league play since the 2010 campaign. 

MSU head coach Rick Ray was looking to become the second MSU first-year head coach to start 3-0 in the SEC since 1936 when Frank Carideo accomplished the feat. 

The 32-point loss was the second largest loss for the Bulldogs in Humphrey Coliseum. A 28-point loss to Florida in 1987 was the second-longest behind a 41-point loss to Vanderbilt in 1993.

"(I'm) disappointed in they way our guys came out and played (Wednesday)," Ray said.

The Bulldogs trailed the Tide 24-22 late in the first half. Alabama took over from there, scoring the last six points in the opening half to take a 30-22 lead at the break.

The Tide came back out on a roll shooting, as they knocked five-straight 3-pointers to take a 45-22 lead. Ray was forced to use two timeouts during Alabama's shooting exhibition. 

"They made every shot they put out," MSU junior guard Jalen Steele said. "We closed out on them and they still made a shot. We did everything we could and they still made the shots."

MSU went scoreless for 8:42, starting with 4:30 left in the first half. Steele knocked down a basket at the 16:48 mark in the second half to make it 45-24 in favor of Alabama.

MSU opened the game on a 5-2 run after winning the tip. Freshman Bulldog guard Craig Sword knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line for the game's first points. Jalen Steele hit a 3-point basket after Alabama senior guard Andrew Steele made a layup.

Alabama played a full court press for most of the first half and early second half to force Mississippi State into poor decisions.

"We were playing too fast-paced," Jalen Steele said. "They were trying to step our game up . We were going with their flow and we turned the ball over."

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant planned on using pressure going into the game, which he hoped would cause MSU's tempo to speed up.

"I thought the focus for us was defense," Grant said. "I thought coming in we had to focus on the defensive end. We felt like we could have some success pressing and picking the tempo up."

Alabama outscored Mississippi State 38-18 in the paint. The Tide turned 21 Bulldog turnovers into 25 points.

"The defense faltered because we were giving the ball to them," Ray said. "Taking care of the basketball is the most important thing in our defense."

MSU managed to turn 12 Alabama turnovers into 11 points. 

Alabama had 35 rebounds and 13 offensive boards. They turned those offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points.

"Every second chance shot, they got it," Steele said.

Mississippi State had 23 rebounds, but only managed to pull down eight on the offensive end. The Bulldogs only had two second chance points.
Alabama made 31-of-58 shots for 53.4 percent. It knocked down 8-of-13 3-pointers for 61.5 percent.

Alabama was led by Levi Randolph's 18 points. Rodney Cooper added 17 points. Nick Jacobs had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Trevor Lacy finished out the double digit scoring with 11 points.

MSU shot 16-of-45 from field goal range for 35.6 percent. They made only 5-of-18 3-pointers for 27.8 percent.

The Bulldogs were led by freshman guard Fred Thomas. Thomas had 10 points and five rebounds. Sword added nine points and sophomore forward Colin Borchert and Jalen Steele each had five points.

The Bulldogs are back in action Saturday when they travel to Knoxville, Tenn. to take on the Tennessee Volunteers for a 3 p.m. tip. It can be seen on the SEC Network and locally on WCBI.

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