Alabama Basketball Teaches Bulldogs to Behave in Starkville
The No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team defeated the No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs by a score of 78-67 in Starkville on Wednesday. "The Hump" was packed to the brim and the crowd was loud. The Tide, however, are no stranger to hostile environments and handled it with poise.
Mark Sears led the team with 20 points, followed closely by Brandon Miller with 19.
The Crimson Tide ran into foul trouble early and often through the course of the game. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the team had racked up 25 fouls and had one player, Charles Bediako, foul out. Noah Clowney, Nick Pringle, and Miller all racked up four fouls a piece.
In the 11-point victory, State's failure to capitalize on Alabama's foul trouble was the difference in the game. The Bulldogs were just 18-36 from the foul line.
The game got off to a slow start, but the scoring opened up midway through the first half when Sears went on a quick 5-point run. He made two free throws and then drained a 3-point attempt.
The Bulldogs and Tide went back and forth in the first half and neither team was able to build up a substantial lead. Heading into halftime, Alabama led 34-30. State came out of the locker room red hot and immediately hit a three point shot to cut the Tide's lead to one.
However, the Tide was relentless in its offensive effort from that point forward, playing fast and aggressive for the entirety of the second half. They steadily built up a double digit lead and maintained it for most of the remainder of the game. The closest to overtaking the Tide in points Mississippi State came was trimming the margin down to seven with nine minutes remaining in the game.
In the victory, Alabama fans finally got to see Dom Welch, the transfer from Saint Bonaventure. Welch failed to score in the nine minutes he played, but he grabbed two boards and played well on defense.
Fans also got to see more of Nick Pringle than usual as the junior played 20 minutes. He went four of four from the field and two of three from the foul line and hauled in four rebounds while only turning the ball over once. He did, however, send State to the line four times.
After the game, Nate Oats said he was pleased with the team's performance and happy to get an SEC win.
"Proud of the team. Road wins are not easy to get in this league," said Oats. "We had 14 more blue collar points than them so I thought our effort was really good and we made some tough plays."
The Crimson Tide will next face Ole Miss on January 3 in Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State will travel to Knoxville to face the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers on the same day.