Man, I don’t even know what to say about this one. If anything, I may get banned from doing any more basketball recaps here, since it seems I keep getting all the worst losses. We may just have Roger do the rest for better hoodoo. To be frank, I’m not even going to try to make this an entertaining read either. The game was hard to watch, so I’ll try to represent that here too.
In any case, this game, especially the first half, was Grantsketball at its very finest. It was neck and neck all the way, with Alabama having at most a 5 point lead and Miss State rallying to take a 4 point lead before they ended with the Bullies up 30-28. Both teams were about as accurate shooting the ball from deep as drunken sorority girl playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and as such, both offenses condensed into an attack the rim or bust strategy. In turn, the defenses condensed around the rim. Combine that with a trigger-happy refereeing crew and we got a long, drawn out game of watching a lot of free throws.
The second half looked mostly the same, just with more free throws. Mississippi State scored the first 3 baskets of the half to get an 8 point lead, but Alabama held firm and chipped away at the lead and the two teams jockeyed for the lead over the next 10 minutes. This alley-oop from Sexton to Hall—
—gave Alabama a 4 point lead with 8 minutes to go, and all the emotion and feel of the game was pointing towards the Tide pushing ahead and putting the game away. Until they didn’t.
Instead, the Tide dropped their scoring rate as Mississippi State increased theirs (funny how things like scoring points wins games, huh?). With 2 and a half minutes left, Hall threw down another monster dunk to bring Alabama within one point, 58-59. But instead of capitalizing, the Alabama squad chose the next two minutes as the best time to go as dry as an earthworm on the sidewalk on a sunny summer day in downtown Montgomery and didn’t score again until 16 seconds left in the game, when Avery Johnson Jr. saw a defender jump and he launched himself into the already-airborne Bulldog and drew the foul and got three free throws.
Alabama fouled immediately after and Quinndary Weatherspoon made only one of his two, so Alabama was 60-66 with 15 seconds to go. Avery Junior then launched a 1-handed shot with a guy in his face from well beyond the three point line and, in what still baffles all scientific knowledge and understanding, swished the shot. Then he got a technical foul for accidentally pretending to call a timeout? I don’t know. It was weird. I don’t think anyone knew what the refs were doing by this point in the game. Probably not even them.
In any case, Miss State made one free throw and made it a two possession game with 6 seconds left, and that was that.
As a team, Alabama shot 30 free throws and made 24 of them. A solid 80%, which was really nice to see after their struggles earlier in the season. To make up for it, they shot 3/22 from three-point range. That’s 13.6%. I can’t even call that paltry anymore. It’s just putrid.
And if you think that’s bad, Mississippi State was 2/19, or 10.5%, which is also quite poor. Alabama lost to a team that shot 10.5% on three pointers, which is absolutely pathetic. They got out-rebounded 36-29 and gave up 13 turnovers to State’s 10, and those possession differences are what made the difference in the game.
Collin Sexton played well tonight, leading the team with 18 points. He had some really crazy shots in the lane that defied at least two laws of physics and probably one of thermodynamics for good measure. He also had 3 of the team’s 4 assists, got a block, and was third on the team with 5 rebounds. And despite leading the team with 34 minutes played, he never had a turnover.
Daniel Giddens was often the recipient of Sexton’s wizardry, and he ended up with 11 points under the basket in only 15 minutes of game time. He also fouled out in only 15 minutes of game time. I’m not sure which is more impressive.
Braxton Key had probably his best game this season with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and an assist. He was playing with a lot of energy and was using his length to make an impact all over the court. He almost looked like freshman Braxton again.
Donta Hall had 8 points and 6 rebounds, but definitely made his presence felt on defense with 3 blocks and 3 steals. Dazon Ingram led the team with 4 turnovers.
It was ugly. Hard to watch. And wholly expected. Did any of you really think Alabama was going to do anything other than lay an egg on the road in Starkville immediately after a big win? I know this is a team of freshmen, but the total lack of consistency is pretty concerning.
On the bright side, if we make it into the NCAA tournament, all the games will be big games, which should fare well for this team. I guess.