Mitchell Leads Tide Past Bulldogs

Alabama didn't play its best game of the year, but the Crimson Tide men's basketball team performed an important function: win games on the home court. Bama remained undefeated in Coleman Coliseum with a key Southeastern Conference win Wednesday night.

Alabama got double figures scoring from four players and never trailed in taking a 75-61 victory over Mississippi State before 10,771.

Bama had opened SEC play against State in Starkville on Jan. 8, taking a 75-57 win.

Alabama maintained its status as top team in SEC play as the Tide improved to 6-1 in the conference and 14-7 overall. Bama is now 12-0 in Tuscaloosa this season. The Bulldogs fell to 3-4 in conference play and 11-10 overall.

Alabama next goes on the road for back-to-back games against Eastern Division competition. Bama will be at Tennessee Saturday afternoon, and then go to Vanderbilt Thursday, February 10. The Tide returns home against Ole Miss on Saturday, February 12 for a 3 p.m. CST game.

Alabama was led in scoring by Tony Mitchell, who had 23 points, 15 of them in the second half. That equaled his career high. Charvez Davis had 17, Trevor Releford 16, and JaMychal Green 15. Green had 11 rebounds as Bama won the battle of the boards, 39-25. Releford had a career-best eight assists, while Dee Bost of Mississippi State, the SEC leader, had seven assists.

Bama outscored State 11-0 in fast break points.

Alabama's defense was good, but not quite up to its usual standards as it allowed an opponent more than 60 points for only the third time in conference play. Bama also allowed State to shoot better than most have averaged against the Tide, 21-51 for 41.2 per cent. Alabama made 27-57 for 47.4 per cent from the field, including 7-14 from three-point range. The Tide continued its good free throw shooting, 14-17.

Alabama's greatest lead in the game came early in the second half when Charvez Davis hit one of his five three-point shots (in eight attempts) for a 45-27 lead.

Alabama continued to dominate the opponent in points-in-the-paint, Bama getting 35 points from down close, the Bulldogs only 22. Alabama also had 16 second chance points to only three for State.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "I thought the first half our defense was very, very good. Our guys understood what we had to take away from them. We were aggressive in going out and taking the lead.

"In the second half we kind of played in spurts and they got a little run on us."

Grant said there was an "energy in the building" that helped Bama at crucial points in the game.

Alabama had a 12-point halftime lead, 35-23, as Davis nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Although that was Bama's largest lead of the first half, the Tide never trailed in the game.

After Green got Bama off to a 1-0 lead, the Tide had back-to-back steals resulting in layups for a 5-0 start. Alabama forced a total of 12 first half turnovers, but scored just 11 points off those miscues. That was in part because the Tide also had six turnovers.

In the second half the Bulldogs had just two turnovers, while Alabama had nine second half miscues.

Alabama was able to take advantage of Mississippi State fouls in the first half, partly by making 8-11 free throws, but more than that by Bulldogs star Renardo Sidney picking up two fouls in less than two minutes and spending the rest of the half on the bench. Another big man for State, Kodi Augustus, was charged with three first half fouls.

Sidney had the first two points of the game for State before going out in foul trouble. Well-rested, he came back to play 18 minutes in the second half and finish with 11 points, but he had only three rebounds. Bost led State with 18 points, while Augustus had 11 and Ravern Johnson 10.

Alabama dominated in the paint in the first half, 19 points to 6.

Mississiippi State Coach Rick Stansbury said, "They are playing awfully well, which is why they are leading the league. We got two quick fouls and got behind and it's hard to dig out. Alabama is managing the game and playing well. You don't get a lot of easy stuff on them."

TIDE NOTES: Former Alabama Coach C.M. Newton was on hand for the game. He was celebrating his 81st birthday.

By sweeping State, the Tide now has an all-time record of 115-72 against the Bulldogs. Bama has won four of the last five games against State. The Tide is 35-8 against Mississippi State in Coleman Coliseum. The Bulldogs have not won in Tuscaloosa in three years.

Bama has won nine of its last 10 games.

This is the first time since 2004-05 Alabama has started 6-1 in SEC play and also the first time since that season Bama has swept MSU.

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