Stuart McNair

Alabama takes advantage of free throw opportunities in 71-62 win

Braxton Key leads Alabama with 19 points in win over Mississippi State

Alabama squandered a big second half lead, but earned it back as the Crimson Tide took a 71-62 win over Mississippi State Saturday in a foul-marred game in Coleman Coliseum.

In what must be considered an exceptional night at the foul line, Alabama made 31-36 free throws. Alabama had a 20-point margin on the Dogs on foul shots, who were

The win completed a sweep of Mississippi State this season and improved the Tide’s record to 13-7 overall and 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs fell to 13-7 overall and 4-4 in league games.

Alabama next goes to Arkansas for a 6 p.m. CST Wednesday game that will be televised on SEC Network. The Tide returns home a week from today hosting Auburn.

Bama had a five-point lead at halftime and took it to eight on a three-point shot by Riley Norris on the Tide’s first possession of the second half. Not long after the fouls began and Dazon Ingram made a pair that gave the Tide a 12-point lead three minutes into the second half.

Freshman Braxton Key led the dTide with 19 points, 10 of them on 14 free throws. Dazon Ingram made only 1-9 from the field, a three-pointer, but connected on 12-12 free throws for 15 points, Norris had 13 points, 10 in the first half and the other three on his only made field goal of the second half.

Alabama was only 17-52 from the field, 32.7 per cent, and only 6-18 on three-pointers for 33.3 per cent, but made up for it with the 86.1 per cent on foul shots. State hit 23-56 from the field, 41.1 per cent, and 5-16 on treys, 31.3 per cent, and was 11-19 on foul shots, 57.9 per cent.

State out-rebounded the Tide, 40-37, with Bama’s Bola Olaniyan leading all with 11 boards.

State was led by Lamar Peters with 13 points.

The Bulldogs had a big advantage on points in the paint with 34 to Alabama’s 18. Bama took advantage of 18 State turnovers to score 23 points, while MSU got 12 points off the Tide’s 13 turnovers. Alabama also had the edge on second chance points, 16-12.

In an unusual development, State’s bench outscored the Tide’s, 17-12.

Alabama held on to the advantage, even though State cut into it from time-to-time. With 10:22 Bama had an 11-point lead at 52-41. Less than a minute later the Bulldogs had a trey and two free throws to cut it to 6. With 7:43 to go the lead was down to 3 and at 7:10 down to only 2.

With 6:02 to play, State star Quinndary Witherspoon hit a three-point shot that put the Bulldogs up by 58-57. That was answered by a second chance trey from the corner by Braxton Key with 5:31 and the Tide never trailed again.

Bama outscored the Bulldogs by 14-4 in the last six minutes, and the last State score was an uncontested putback with less than 2 seconds to play.

In those last six minutes the Tide got four points from Bola Olaniyan, 6 from Key, and 4 from Ingram.

What was a lethargic first half by Alabama for over 17 minutes turned into a nice 10-2 run in the last 2:51 as the Tide took a 34-29 halftime lead. Norris scored 7 of his first 10 points in that last three minutes and Ingram added a three-pointer with a minute to play, the last points of the period.

Other than a 2-2 tie, State led until just over 8 minutes remained in the period when a Norris trey put the Tide up by 17-15. The lead lasted about 15 seconds when State tied it – one of four first half ties.

There were seven lead changes in the first half, State’s largest lead also 5 points, the last time at 13-8.

Alabama made all 11 of its free throws in the period, while State made its first 6 before missing on the front end of a 1-and-1 with a little over a minute to go.

The Tide had a number of opportunities inside, but couldn’t get balls to drop, while the Bulldogs had some success going to the baseline for short puts by Schnider Herard, who led the Dogs with 8 at intermission.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama went with its “big” starting lineup, inside men Donta Hall and Bola Olaniyan, forwards Riley Norris and Brandon Key, and guard Dazon Ingram.

This was Alabama’s first game against a team the Tide had previously played this year. In the SEC opener on Jan. 3, Bama took a 68-58 win over Mississippi State in Starkville.

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The Alabama football team and Coach Nick Saban were recognized at halftime and presented the 2016 SEC Chamnpionship Trophy by Associate Commissioner Mark Womack and the 2016 Peach Bowl Trophy presented by Peach Bowl Executive Director Gary Stokan.

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