It’s one thing – a very pleasant thing – to remember back to Alabama’s first Southeastern Conference game of the season, when the Crimson Tide went to Starkville and defeated Mississippi State, 68-58. Bama held the Bulldogs to season lows in points and field goals made (19).
That memory is because Alabama will host the Bulldogs for the rematch at 5 p.m. CST Saturday in Coleman Coliseum.
And that brings to mind last season when the Crimson Tide captured an 82-80 overtime win over State in Starkville, but fell to the Bulldogs, 67-61 in Coleman Coliseum.
Saturday’s game matching Bama (12-7 overall, 5-2 in SEC games) against the Dogs (13-6, 4-3) will be telecast by SEC Network.
Alabama is coming off perhaps its best performance of the year, an 80-60 win over Georgia in Athens. Bama has been very good on the road in SEC play, winning three of four games. Mississippi State is also coming off an impressive win, 89-74 over Missouri.
Alabama has won 11 of the last 14 meetings against State, including 6 of the last 7 in Coleman Coliseum – the lone Tide loss last year. It was MSU’s first win in Coleman Coliseum since 2008.
Alabama is 7-2 in Coleman Coliseum this year, including 2-1 in SEC games.
Coach Avery Johnson’s Bama squad has been getting the job done with rebounding and defense. Alabama leads the SEC in rebounding margin (6.4 for all games, 9.1 in league contests) and has not been out-rebounded in its last 12 games, including all seven conference games.
Alabama ranks 23rd in the nation in scoring defense (63.3 points per game) and 28th nationally in rebounding margin.
Bama is a perfect 11-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 62 points, but is 1-7 when allowing the opposition more than 62.
Alabama is outscoring the competition by 5.7 points per game (68.9-63.3) and outrebounding opponents by 6.4 rebounds per game (38.9-32.5). The Tide is shooting .429 from the field and .328 from beyond the rthree-point line.
Alabama forward Braxton Key is one of seven freshmen from around the country who leads his team in both scoring and rebounding. Key is averaging 11.5 and 5.8 rebounds per game and is coming off a season-high 26-point game in the win over Georgia. Redshirt freshman guard Dazon Ingram is the Tide’s second-leading scorer at 9.5 per game and leads Bama in assists (3.7 per game), steals (0.9), and three-point shooting (43.5 per cent).
In the earlier meeting against State in Starkville, the Tide was led by Ingram and Avery Johnson, Jr., with 13 points each and Riley Norris with 11.
Sophomore Quinndary Weatherspoon leads MSU with a 17.9 points per game average, while I.J. Ready, who leads the team with 4.9 assists per game, is 29th nationally and leads the SEC with his 2.85 assist/turnover ratio. Freshman Lamar Peters has been red-hot coming into Saturday's contest as he is averaging 15.9 points per game and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc against SEC opponents. Sophomore Aric Holman tops the team in rebounds (6.3 rpg) and blocks (2.4 bpg).
In Starville, Alabama’s defense held Weathrspoon to 2-11 shooting from the field and only 7 points. Ingram had 9 rebounds as Bama won the battle of the boards, 43-26.