Alabama had another rough night outside the arc, but this time overcame it with defense, rim shots and free throws to take down Mississippi State at Coleman Coliseum.
Mississippi State came out with a clear strategy to take the three pointer away from Alabama, extending the defense to the point of overplaying the perimeter. As a result, the Tide had a bit more success with the pick and roll than usual, but the three pointers they took were often contested, leading to a rough shooting percentage. Considering the defensive strategy they saw from the opponent, the volume of threes may have been a bit heavy. Turnovers were a bit of an issue early as well, but they cleaned them up by the end of the half and managed a 4 point halftime lead in a low scoring affair.
As has seemingly been a custom for Alabama’s opponents, Mississippi State came out of the locker room on fire. They made their first six three point attempts of the second half, after making zero in the first, to pull even at 50 with 13 minutes left. Just inside ten minutes, Nate Oats got frustrated with the officiating and managed to get himself ejected with two technical fouls. The resulting free throws and additional possession contributed to a 64-57 Mississippi State lead with 7:30 to play. At that point Mississippi State was shooting 46% from three to Alabama’s 20%.
After a timeout called by acting head coach Charlie Henry, James Rojas of all people knocked down a corner three to change the momentum, starting a 18-2 run capped off by this Darius Miles tomahawk to put the Tide up nine with a minute left.
Place went nuts after Darius Miles dunk. Players didn’t hear whistle for timeout. pic.twitter.com/QwJVMAnoMI— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) February 17, 2022
Charles Bediako was a monster in this one. He was the key factor in fouling Mississippi State big Tolu Smith out of the game and finished with six blocked shots to go with 15 points and 5 boards. The other bright spot was Jahvon Quinerly, who quite frankly carried the team for much of the night. He was the trigger man on the pick and roll that resulted in several layups or dunks, and most encouragingly shot 38% from three on a night when Jaden Shackelford and Keon Ellis couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Quinerly’s ability to get right down the stretch may well be the deciding factor in how far the Tide can go in the postseason.