MSU comeback falls short at Alabama

MSU's Lamar Peters
Staff Writer

Mississippi State trailed by a point with a little over 5 minutes left in the game Saturday night at Alabama.

It was an incredible spot to be in considering the Bulldogs once trailed by 20 points in the first half and were down 19 at halftime.

Yet here State was, down one, and MSU’s Quinndary Weatherspoon got a steal and sprinted down the court to finally put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time all night. He dished the ball to his brother, Nick Weatherspoon, for the layup. Nick went up. The basketball didn’t go in. Alabama maintained its one-point advantage.

It was a microcosm of MSU’s game down the stretch. Try as they might, the Bulldogs never did quite get completely over the hump and despite their frantic comeback, fell 68-62 to the Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum. It was a bitter pill for MSU to swallow after essentially coming back from the dead to even make it a game.

“I was really proud of the fight of our guys to roar back and give us a chance,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. “It’s a tough loss considering how we fought back and gave ourselves the chance to win.”

MSU (14-5, 2-4) put together a dreadful first half that the team just simply couldn’t overcome. Less than 5 minutes into the contest, the Bulldogs had already matched their turnover total (four) from Tuesday’s win over Vanderbilt, Alabama (13-6, 5-2) was dominating on the offensive glass and State immediately found itself in a double-digit hole.

As the first half wore on, things kept spiraling out of control for the Bulldogs. By the time the buzzer sounded for the intermission, MSU trailed 41-22.

“I feel like we came out too lax,” Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters said. “Alabama was the aggressor and it showed. There were a lot of 50-50 balls and we didn’t get any.”

The Bulldogs’ fortunes changed drastically in the second half thanks in large part to Peters, who ultimately finished with a game-high 17 points.

Over a 2 1/2-minute stretch midway through the period, Peters scored 11 of his points, making a trio of 3-pointers and sinking a layup. That all shrunk MSU’s deficit from 15 points down to five.

About 3 minutes later, the Bulldogs tied the game on a pair of free throws from Quinndary Weatherspoon.

Yet MSU never could gain a lead. Alabama never trailed in the contest. State’s best chance to go in front came on Nick Weatherspoon’s missed layup after Quinndary’s steal, but even after that missed opportunity, MSU still fought back to tie the game at 60-60 with just 1:37 to play.

However Alabama’s Braxton Key, who scored a team-high 16 for the Tide, scored on a layup with 1:14 left to put Alabama up for good.

The Crimson Tide then went on to put a lid on a night where the Bulldogs couldn’t quite dig themselves out of their huge early deficit.

“When you dig a hole that big, it’s tough to come back and win,” Peters said.