Stuart McNair

Alabama sees impressive winning streak end with error-marred loss

Alabama loss to Mississippi State may have negative NCAA Tournament implications

In the pre-season, one might have surmised that a basketball game between Alabama and Mississippi State would look about as it did Saturday in Coleman Coliseum. That is to say, neither team looked very good. Unforced turnovers, senseless fouls, missed free throws, bad shots.


But Alabama wasn’t supposed to look like the team that had been picked to finish 13th in the Southeastern Conference. The Crimson Tide has been one of the top stories in the nation with its big wins, particularly road wins. In Coleman Coliseum Saturday Bama may have played its way out of the NCAA Tournament.


Alabama had a subpar game in almost every respect and lost to the Bulldogs, 67-61.


The loss ended a five-game winning streak by the Tide and dropped Bama to 16-10 overall and 7-7 in SEC games. Mississippi State improved to 12-14 and 5-9.


Alabama next goes to Kentucky to face the league-leading Wildcats on Tuesday. The game is at 6 p.m. CST with ESPN televising. The Tide returns to Tuscaloosa against Auburn next Saturday.


Bama hit 22-52 field goal attempts for 42.3 per cent, while the Bulldogs were 26-53 for 49.1 per cent. The Tide made 6-21 three-point attempts (28.6 per cent), State 7-17 (41.2 per cent). Alabama missed 10 free throws, making 11-21 (52.4 per cent), MSU 8-15 (53.3 per cent).


Alabama ended up with a 36-33 rebounding lead, including getting 11 offensive rebounds. Both teams were charged with 11 turnovers, the Bulldogs exploiting them for 19 points, Bama getting just 9.


Alabama had two starters – Riley Norris and Michael Kessens – who did not attempt a shot. The Tide was led by Retin Obasohan and Shannon Hale in scoring, both with 22 points. Neither, however, shot 50 per cent, Obasohan 8-18 from the field, Hale 7-15. State had four men in double figures, led by Quinndary Weatherspoon with 15.


Mississippi State took the lead with nine minutes remaining in the first half, had a 32-29 advantage at halftime, and held off a Tide surge late in the second half to end a six-game losing streak at the hands of Alabama. Alabama drew within a point at 58-57 with 4:25 to play, but the next five possessions – three by Alabama, two by Mississippi State – sealed the loss. Alabama had an unforced turnover, missed two free throws, and mismanaged the clock forcing a long-range desperation three-point try. At the other end of the court, the Tide surrendered a short baseline jumper and a layup as the Bulldogs extended the lead to five.


The game started to get away from Alabama in the first half before Hale went on a mini-tear. Bama trailed by nine points, 18-27, with 3:28 to play. Over the next couple of minutes, Hale had two three-pointers around a short baseline jumper and a free throw to pull the Tide back to within three points at 30-27. The Bulldogs got another basket before halftime, but Obasohan matched that with a buzzer-beater short jumper to make it a three-point game, Mississippi State leading, 32-29.


Alabama had a seven-point lead at 11-4, but in part because of turnovers the Bulldogs tied it up at 15-15 with 10:50 to play and took the first half lead for good with nine minutes to play.


In the first half the Tide had five turnovers that led to eight Mississippi State points. The Bulldogs outrebounded Alabama 19-14 in the opening half.


Obasohan and Hale had 11 points each in the first half. Riley Norris did not take a shot in the first half and played only nine minutes, committing three personal fouls.


TIDE NOTES: Alabama continued with its regular starting lineup of Retin Obasohan at point guard, Arthur Edwards and Riley Norris on the wings, Michael Kessens at high post, and Jimmie Taylor at low post.


Mississippi State was playing without star freshman guard Malik Newman (12.3 points per game). He has a back injury.


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Alabama won the first meeting of the Tide and Bulldogs in Starkville this year, 82-80 in overtime to start Bama’s five-game winning streak coming into Saturday’s game.

Alabama has an all-time record of 120-74 against Mississippi State.


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