No. 24 Alabama men's basketball suffered its fifth loss to an unranked team for the season on Saturday as they fell to Mississippi St., 78-76, on the road in Starkville, MS. This moves the Tide to 11-6 (2-3 in SEC) for 2021-2022, a season that started with the most potential and expectations the program had garnered in recent history.

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A bright moment from Saturday's loss, Alabama returned senior forward James Rojas to the floor from an ACL injury he suffered in June of 2021. Rojas ate up 18 minutes for the Tide and ended his night with six points and a pair of rebounds and steals as forwards Noah Gurley and Juwan Gary faced early foul trouble.

After taking a 41-37 lead into the locker room at the half, Alabama once again faced the season's ongoing rebounding troubles in Starkville and was dominated on the boards, 27-13, when it counted most in the final 20 minutes of play.

Senior guard Keon Ellis led the squad in minutes (34:13), rebounds (7), assists (3) and plus/minus (4) while his 14 points only came second to fellow guard Jaden Shackelford (17). "Shack" continued his recent struggle in 3-pt territory against Mississippi State with a 1-for-9 performance behind the line, drawing three fouls on offense and notching two steals.

"It's hard to win a game when they're (MSU) getting half their misses," said Alabama coach Nate Oats after the poor rebounding performance on the road.

"We gotta have guys step up, make some tougher plays – we gotta come up with a rebound," said Oats, "We gotta show some toughness about us."

Shackelford, a senior 3-pt specialist, hasn't been himself behind the arch in his last five appearances going 11-for-43 (25.6%) since opening SEC play against Tennessee on December 29.

For the season, however, Jaden Shackelford is still by far the best deep threat the Tide carries on its roster and he's a top-five scorer in the SEC at 16.2 points per game. He leads the conference in shots made behind the arch (52) despite his multi-game slump, but gets a chance to right the ship against favorable matchups in Georgia and Vanderbilt after the coming home matchup with LSU.

The Crimson Tide welcomes the LSU Tigers to Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. CST as they try to get back to .500 on a tough SEC schedule.

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