MSU loses third straight SEC game

Mississippi State, reeling from a two loss start in SEC play, needed a win badly on the road against an Alabama team that had won 27 straight home games. MSU, showing determination, took Alabama down to the wire before losing in overtime 68-62.<P> Looking like the Bulldogs that had vaulted up to a 7th place national ranking in the first part of the season, MSU carried a 12-point lead into halftime.

However, Alabama came out quick in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs 29-10.

"Good basketball teams are going to make runs at you," said MSU coach Rick Stansbury. "We had to not panic during those times. I thought that our kids dug in and found ways to get stops."

The Bulldogs then made their own run and even had a lead very late in the game.

Mississippi State, after taking a 2-point lead with 9 seconds to go in regulation play, made a defensive mistake with just under 2 seconds to go that gave Alabama's Antoine Pettway the opportunity to go in for a layup that tied the game and sent it into overtime.

"We had the basketball game won if we make the right play at the last minute," said Stansbury. "We had no intentions of letting Mo (Williams) get in front of anybody during those last 9 seconds, but he got in front of us and caused Timmy (Bowers) to switch off. We can't make those kind of mistakes. When you have a 2-point lead with 9 seconds left in the game, that is where you have to win a basketball game. And we didn't do it."

Alabama won the tip in overtime and outscored the Bulldogs 13-7 to win the game.

Alabama's Erwin Dudley, who finished with 23 points and dominated the power forward matchup with Mario Austin, opened the overtime with a basket and free throw. He added a putback and Williams hit a fadeaway for a 63-56 lead with 2:07 left.

The Bulldogs (10-4, 0-3) then got a putback from Branden Vincent with 1:45 left and Timmy Bowers made it 63-61 with a 3-pointer with 59 seconds to play.

Williams then drilled ad 3-pointer to put the game away for the Tide.

The Bulldogs have lost 16 straight road games against ranked conference opponents and their first three SEC games after rising to a school-best No. 7 ranking.

Held scoreless in the first half, Williams finished with 11 points. Kenny Walker had 10 and Pettway added nine, all after the nine-minute mark of the second half.

Derrick Zimmerman led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Bowers added 10. Austin, the team's leading scorer, was held to eight points, two after halftime.

"I thought that we were trying to get it to Mario (Austin) but were forcing it in too much to him," said Stansbury.

Mississippi State now takes the weekend off before playing South Carolina in Humphrey Coliseum next Wednesday. Game time is 7 p.m.

"There are no easy games," said Stansbury. "It doesn't matter who it is, you have to be ready to play your next game."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com


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