GAME NOTES: Two teams heading in opposite directions in the SEC standings are set to meet up on Wednesday night, as the Alabama Crimson Tide entertain the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Coleman Coliseum.
Mississippi State is in the midst of its worst run of the season, having lost 10 straight games dating back to mid-January, with its most recent defeat coming at LSU last Saturday, 80-68. The Bulldogs are just 7-17 overall and are bringing up the rear in the SEC at 2-10.
With a 68-58 win over South Carolina last Saturday, Alabama won its third straight game to improve to 17-8 on the season. It currently sits alone in second place in the SEC (9-3), although it will need a lot of help to catch first-place Florida. The Tide have been strong on their home court this season as well, winning 11 of 14 in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama has won two of the last three meetings with Mississippi State, including a convincing 75-43 triumph in Starkville on Jan. 16, to take a 116-73 advantage in the all-time series.
Despite getting a career-high 25 points from Craig Sword in its last game, Mississippi State was unable to overcome a hot-shooting LSU team as it was saddled with a 12-point setback. Supporting Sword in the losing effort was Colin Borchert, who scored 11 points and helped out at the defensive end with four steals and three blocks, and Gavin Ware, who tallied 10 points and seven rebounds. On the season, the Bulldogs have been thoroughly unimpressive in both facets of the game, averaging 60.7 ppg while allowing 69.1 ppg for a league-worst scoring margin of -8.4. MSU also ranks last in the conference in field goal percentage (.406) and 3-point percentage (.278), and the team took a hit with the absence of Jalen Steele (9.3 ppg), who is serving an indefinite suspension. Sword's most recent outburst has allowed him to become the team's top scorer with 10.2 ppg, with Fred Thomas (10.0 ppg) hot on his heels. Ware brings some stability to the frontcourt, scoring 8.9 ppg on 55.5 percent field goal shooting to go along with 6.7 rpg.
Alabama shot 46.8 percent from the field on Saturday, outscored South Carolina at the foul line (18-7), and forced 20 turnovers as it rolled to the 10-point home victory. Trevor Lacey led all scorers with 17 points, Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs each netted 10 points, and Levi Randolph recorded nine rebounds and four steals in the winning effort. Surprisingly enough, the Tide's 67- point effort marked the first time the unit scored more than 60 points since putting up 68 in a Jan. 12 win over Tennessee, and its season average (62.4 ppg) has not been much to brag about. Fortunately for the Tide, the defensive stand has been top-notch, with foes generating just 57.3 ppg on a lowly 40.3 percent from the field. Trevor Releford leads the squad with 14.4 ppg and 2.0 spg, while also posting stellar percentages from the field (.465), 3-point range (.403) and the foul line (.821). Lacey is also a solid guard with 12.0 ppg, and Cooper rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.8 ppg
Simply put, Alabama's stout defense will stymie Mississippi State's already- weak shooters, and the Bulldogs defense has been so poor that the Crimson Tide may be able to muster enough points to put this game out of reach relatively early.
Game Date and Time