What if I told you the Alabama basketball team shot 1-15 from three point range, got out rebounded 43-39, including 21-12 on the offensive end, committed 12 turnovers, and had Donta Hall in foul trouble all night? Sure recipe for a loss, right?
Despite those bad numbers, and with Hall only playing 23 minutes, the Tide defeated 22nd ranked Mississippi State by a score of 83-79 on Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa. Alabama now has three wins over top 25 teams in the month of January, and seven straight wins over top 25 teams at home. The Tide improved to 13-7, 4-3, while MSU fell to 15-5, 3-4.
Bama started off pounding the ball inside to Hall and he responded with dunks and layins right at the rim, scoring eight of the teams first 14 points. Hall teamed up with point guard Kira Lewis for a spectacular jam off a lop for a slam that was ESPN Sports Center top play of the day. When Hall got into foul trouble Galin Smith entered the game and helped the Tide surge to a 41-29 lead at the break.
At halftime, the Tide was 16-34 from the field, 0-7 from deep, and 9-12 from the free throw line. State was 11-32, 1-10 from deep and a Bama-like 6-15 from the free throw line.
The Tide maintained a 10-12 point lead for most of the night, but State went on a run led by Quinndary Weatherspoon, and before you knew it the score was just 54-51 in favor of Bama with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
John Petty then started posting up his smaller defender and pushed the lead back out to 59-51. A dunk by Herbert Jones with 4 minutes left gave Bama a 74-63 lead, but was also the Tides last field goal of the game. Petty has become a much smarter player this year in the post, exploiting his size advantage when the jumpers won’t fall.
The Tide traded State baskets down the stretch with just enough made free throws to hold on for the win. The ole get-the-ball-inbounds bug-a-boo almost bit Bama in the last couple of minutes, but Jones and Hall combined for five made free throws in the last 30 seconds to claim the victory.
The Tide scored a season high 54 points in the paint, and finished 30-61 from the field (49%), but an awful 1-15 (6.7%) from the three point line and 22-36 (61%) from the free throw line. ‘Bama grabbed 39 rebounds, dished 11 assists, blocked nine shots, had seven steals, and committed 12 turnovers. The Bulldog didn't shoot the ball well from anywhere, finishing 32-70 (45%), 3-19 (16%) from deep and 12-22 (54%) from the free throw line. MSU had 43 rebounds, 10 assists, 13 turnovers, six blocks, and eight steals.
Despite the foul trouble, Hall still lead the team with 19 points on 7-9 shooting, and added seven rebounds, two blocks, two assists, and one steal. John Petty logged 23 minutes off the bench and finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Riley Norris scored 11 points and had five rebounds in his 27 tough minutes off the bench. Lewis chipped in nine points with three assists and three rebounds. Jones was also saddled with foul trouble all night and scored eight points in 18 minutes of game action. Reggie Perry was the high point man for the ‘Dogs, scoring 18 points and adding seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
Another big win for the Tide. Bama has defeated ranked teams in Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State at home in the month of January. Inexplicitly the team also has home losses to Georgia State and Texas A&M, and a neutral court loss to Northeastern. At 13-7, 4-3 in the SEC, the team is certainly on the fringe of another NCAA bid. With several quadrant one wins, a tough strength of schedule, and a 47 Ken Pom ranking, the Tide will have a resume worthy of a bid, as long as they don't implode down the stretch of the season. Hopefully the very winnable games that got away won’t come back to bite the Tide in the ass come selection Sunday.
Bama travels to the plains to take on the reeling Auburn Tigers on Saturday in a game that tips off at 7 p.m. and will be shown on either ESPN/ESPN2/ or ESPNU. The Tigers play Missouri on Wednesday night and or currently only 2-4 in the SEC and have fallen out of the top 25 after being as high as number eight early in the season.
Roll Tide and Buckle Up
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