By Chris DePew
Feb. 2, 2016
It took an extra five minutes, but Alabama finally got its first conference road win, rallying from a seven-point deficit in the closing minutes and a four-point hole in overtime to knock off Mississippi State 82-80.
What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide is running out of bodies. Power forward Shannon Hale arrived in Starkville wearing a walking boot. His replacement, Michael Kessens, struggled mightily and then went down in the second half with an ominous-looking knee injury. Bama’s offense melted into chaos when Retin Obasohan tried to grab some much-needed rest and didn’t recover for several minutes even after the senior guard returned, giving up a 14-0 run. At one point in the first half he found himself playing with Kessens, Donta Hall, Brandon Austin and walk-on Lawson Schaffer. Months after the fact, the Tide hasn’t truly recovered from losing point guard Dazon Ingram. Hale is listed as day-to-day, and he’ll need to be back to 100 percent soon if Alabama wants to turn things around in the second half of the SEC schedule.
What was the best part of the game?: Before the news broke that Hale was out, Justin Coleman was the focus of injury concerns after missing practice Monday with turf toe. But Coleman not only played, he thrived, especially after halftime. He scored 15 points (seven in overtime) and nailed three shots from behind the arc, a huge change from his scoreless showing at South Carolina. And on a night when Bama was careless with the basketball (20 turnovers), he only had two.
Who was the star?: Obasohan was uncharacteristically quiet in the second half and still rolled to 25 points and a career-high eight assists. He also had three steals, but that doesn’t tell the complete story of how he (and his fellow guards) shut down State’s freshman backcourt duo of Quinndary Weatherspoon and Malik Newman. They average a combined 24.5 points per game, but only managed 11 on Tuesday.
What were the biggest concerns?: Jimmie Taylor bounced back with eight points and six rebounds, but he Austin and Kessens were powerless to stop Gavin Ware, MSU’s only inside threat. He was an astounding 12-for-16 from the floor and finished with a career-high 28 points despite foul trouble. And fouls could explain why he found so much room to operate, as it looked like Alabama may have prioritized keeping its big men from getting whistled. Still it was discouraging to see the undersized Bulldogs hold their own in the paint. Bama also barely edged out the league’s worst rebounding team on the glass 40-39.
What’s next?: Bama catches a break from the schedule maker when it needs it most, hosting last place Missouri on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip on the SEC Network.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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