TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama played about as poor of a game offensively as they’ve had all season. However, despite the poor shooting and turnover problems, the Tide were able to escape with a win and keep their perfect conference record alive.
No team in the SEC is a pushover this season and Alabama learned that the hard way on Wednesday night. Mississippi State capitalized off of 12 Crimson Tide turnovers, seven of which came in the first half. The Bulldogs opened the game on a 10-2 run and continued to dominate until about halfway through the second half. Alabama shot just 10/30 from the floor including 3/16 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Bulldogs led 36-29 at halftime, a lead cut from 10 to seven thanks to a buzzer beating three from Dom Welch.
The story of the second half was simple. Alabama played hard-nose, scrappy, blue-collared basketball and clawed their way back into the game. The offense never clicked until near the very end of the game, but the defense stayed solid and consistent. The Crimson Tide forced 15 turnovers including five steals, three of which came from the star freshman Brandon Miller.
The Bulldogs game planned well for Miller tonight, not allowing him to get many touches at all in the half court and doubling him whenever he did. Miller still impacted the game with his defense and crucial buckets in transition. Miller finished with 13 points, six rebounds, three steals, and a massive chase down block that came at a much needed moment late in the second half.
One of the biggest stories of the game was the contributions the Tide received from their bench. The Alabama bench accounted for 32 of the team’s 66 points. Jahvon Quinerly scored 14, Nick Pringle scored seven and Rylan Griffen added five off the bench, scoring in crucial moments of the second half.
Coach Oats had high praise for Griffen stating, “Rylan has no fear. Super confident kid, prepares himself to play well.”
Coach Oats also added that what Pringle brought in the first half was critical and that he “probably could have got him some more minutes.”
The Crimson Tide know they’re the team to beat in the SEC, and that they’ll get every team’s best game for the rest of the season.
“If you’re going to win an SEC Championship, you have to win games where you don’t play your best,” Coach Oats said, following the win.
The win over the Bulldogs on Wednesday was the Crimson Tide’s first SEC win that wasn’t decided by double digits this season. The close-game experience should help this team tremendously come the post season.
Alabama improves to 18-2 on the season with a perfect 8-0 record in SEC play with the win and will be back in action on Saturday against Oklahoma, as part of the SEC versus Big 12 conference challenge.