By (Tyler Waldrep)

Saturday’s loss to South Carolina wasn’t what the outcome the team wanted, but it doesn’t have time to dwell on it with a trip to Mississippi State on Tuesday looming.

Both teams have come close to knocking off teams atop the current edition of the conference standings and both teams have recently ended three-plus SEC losing streaks. If Alabama wants to avoid another streak of losses the team needs to start the game against Mississippi State the right way.

“We have to do a better job not only in the last three to five minutes, [but] we have to do a better job at getting off to a good start,” coach Avery Johnson said. “See we had another slow start [on Saturday] right? We’re down 12-5 I’ve got to call a timeout just like against Tennessee we’re down 16-4 I’ve got to get a timeout.”

Alabama and Mississippi State are currently the only SEC teams eligible for the postseason with less than three conference wins. A win over the Bulldogs could prevent Alabama from having to play Mississippi State for a third time this season on the first day of the SEC Tournament, a day that has essentially become a play-in game for the regular SEC Tournament in all but name.

A win would also tie Alabama for its longest win streak in the series with six consecutive wins over Mississippi State for the first time since 1985-87.

If Alabama is going to match that win streak, it might have to do so without point guard Justin Coleman who missed practice on Monday with what Johnson described as a turf-toe situation. He will be a game-time decision for Alabama on Tuesday.

If Coleman can’t play, then Retin Obasohan will shoulder even more of the point guard responsibilities than usual, but don’t expect the senior to complain.

“My dad always said ‘if your prayer is to eat then you can’t complain about what’s on your plate,’” Obasohan said.

Obasohan finished Alabama’s last outing with a game-high 23 points. He has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games now, and has done so in seven of the Crimson Tide’s last nine game.

The senior might have some help in the scoring department as Shannon Hale appears to be returning to form after an injury took him out of the starting lineup until recently. He finished Saturday’s game with 16 points.

“He’s still climbing his way out of it,” Johnson said. “Since he’s been back we’ve seen some very good highlights of his potential. We’re just trying to find that level of consistency.”

Hale’s apparent return to his old self is good for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide will likely need Obasohan to continue to score points if Alabama is going to leave Starkville, Mississippi with a win.

“[Retin’s] so explosive at getting to the basket and when he gets into a rhythm of making his 3-point he’s pretty tough to guard,” Johnson said. “I’ve been talking to some people; he’s really gaining a really nice reputation as being one of the most improved players so we want him to stay aggressive.”

Obasohan has shot above 50-percent from the field and is 8-16 past the arc in his last four games, so praise from his coach is deserved, but it’s not what the senior and team co-captain is after.

“I just see how many wins we have and how many losses we have, and as of right now I’d prefer to have a lot more wins than we currently do have,” Obasohan said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports