Who Expected Tide Rout Of Bulldogs?

Raise your hand if you thought Alabama's men's basketball team could win its first road game of the year when the Crimson Tide went to Mississippi State to begin Southeastern Conference play Saturday. Let's see. Trever, JaMychal, Charvez, Senario...okay, okay, but besides you guys?

Alabama won its first road game of the year Saturday as the Crimson Tide pulled away from Mississippi State in the second half in Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. Bama's 75-57 victory improved the Alabama record to 9-6 and got the Tide off to a 1-0 start in SEC play.

Bama came into the game with an 8-0 home record and 0-6 record away from Coleman Coliseum. Mississippi State fell to 8-7 with the loss in the SEC season-opener.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Anthony Grant returns to Tuscaloosa Wednesday to host South Carolina at 8 p.m. CST.

"We're excited about opening up the SEC with a win in a hostile environment on the road," Grant said. "I thought our guys did a real good job today of handling the emotion of the game and the emotion of starting the SEC season. We came out and played to our identity."

JaMychal Green had only two points at halftime, but the junior forward finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for Bama. Freshman point guard Trevor Releford got into early foul trouble, but he didn't let it faze him as he led the Tide with 17 points. He also had four assists, four rebounds, three steals, and only two turnovers.

Charvez Davis has been an outside shooting machine in recent games, but the senior guard was only 1-5 on three-point attempts Saturday. He made up for it with nifty drives, though, and finished with 13 points. Tony Mitchell had 11 points and nine rebounds and Chris Hines only seven points but 10 rebounds.

At least as important was what Alabama did on the defensive end, notably in holding Mississippi State's 6-10, 270-pound forward Renardo Sidney to only two points. Sidney had nine rebounds, but also was forced into five turnovers.

Alabama led by as many as nine in first half, 18-9, but by halftime the Bulldogs had whittled the lead to Bama 27, Bulldogs 26.

"We weren't able to get shots to fall in the first half," Grant added. "I thought we weathered that, and in the second half our defensive intensity continued and we executed in getting shots to fall in the second half."

The Tide took the lead for good at 33-31 with just over 16 minutes to play.

Early in the second half the Tide got the rout started with a 12-0 run. Leading 39-37, Bama put it out to 51-37. Senario Hillman, who had only six points, had four of them in a matter of moments, a putback that gave the Tide a 45-37 lead and a jumper that made it a 10-point advantage. Green, who had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, moved outside for several second half jump shots, including one with just under 10 minutes to play that finished the 12-0 run.

Alabama led by as many as 22 points before settling for the 18-point win. Bama led almost the entire game and State never led by more than three points.

Alabama hit 32-65 field goals for 49.2 per cent. The SEC's best defense against scoring held the Bulldogs to 21-62 shooting, which is just 33.9 per cent. Both teams were miserable from three-point range, Bama 1-8 for 12.5 per cent, State 5-24 for 20.8 per cent. The Tide made 10-16 free throws, the Bulldogs 10-20. Alabama had a slight 43-40 edge in rebounds. Alabama had eight turnovers in the first half, but only three in the second half for 11 total. State had 15 turnovers.

Alabama outscored the Bulldogs by 44-24 in the paint. Bama had 17 points and the Bulldogs had nine points off turnovers.

The Bulldogs were led by Dee Bost, playing his first game of the season. Bost had 14 points.

It was Alabama's first win in Starkville since 2005.

This is the second consecutive year for Alabama to open SEC play with a road victory. Last year Bama went to LSU to open league play and came away with a victory.

Alabama and Mississippi State will have a rematch in Tuscaloosa on February 2.

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