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Rivals MSU, Alabama clash

January 14, 2012

(Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

There are no more divisions for Southeastern Conference basketball.

That doesn't mean that today's game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Crimson Tide, old SEC Western Division rivals, is any less important. The game tips at 3 p.m.

The Tide (13-3 overall, 2-0 SEC) enter Humphrey Coliseum riding a five-game win streak and fresh off a 69-53 dismantling of LSU on Wednesday night.

In that outing super sophomore, Trevor Releford, led Alabama with 20 points while Tony Mitchell picked up a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

During the recent win streak for the Tide, Releford is leading the team in scoring with 17.2 points per game. In addition, Mitchell is adding 14.9 points per game on the season and has a superior presence in the post as he has 30 of the teams 32 dunks on the season.

If it is anything, Alabama's offense has been efficient by averaging over one point per possession this season.

While the Tide's offense has been consistent, scoring 67.7 points per game, it is their defense that is responsible for their success. Alabama is eighth in the nation allowing just 55.7 points per game on average. 

“Alabama will get up into you and will pressure you on offense,” said 14th-year MSU coach Rick Stansbury, whose team is 1-1 in SEC play. “They will get up into you in the half-court defense, and they will also mix it up with their zone defense. Alabama is a very good defensive team, and they will be very physical.”

The Tide has 10 of their 16 opponents this season to their lowest point production of the season. Only four teams this season have scored over 60 points and four teams didn’t reach the 50-point mark.

“It’s a big game,” junior forward Arnett Moultrie said. “It’s going to be physical. Alabama is one of the best teams in the league, and we’re going to have to play our style.”

Alabama has won four of the last five matchups between these two foes and head coach Anthony Grant owns a 3-1 record against the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State (14-3, 1-1) on the other hand got back on the winning track Thursday with a win over the Tennessee Volunteers.

The Bulldogs improved their defensive effort getting seven blocked shots in the second half to hold off a Volunteer charge.

MSU was paced by the trio of Moultrie, Dee Bost, and Renardo Sidney each scoring 13 points for the evening. 

Moultrie continues to lead the league with 10.8 rebounds per game to go with eight double-doubles this season.

Bost leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points per outing and now stands in third place all-time at MSU in steals. Arguably his biggest steal of the season was his last as it secured the State win over UT on Thursday.

“They’ve got a very good team,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “They’ve got a combination with Dee Bost being a senior point guard and the leadership he provides. He leads their team and they’re getting great play out of their other guards as well.

"The guys up front with Moultrie and Sidney are probably one of the biggest frontcourts that we’ll see this year. They’ve played extremely well and have had a lot of success this season.”

The Bulldogs return to the road following their tangle with the Tide, heading to Oxford on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip on CSS.

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