By Chris DePew
Feb. 20, 2016
What did we learn today?: Even obvious trap games can snare a blue collar team that doesn’t keep grinding. After three stirring second-half comebacks against upper-echelon SEC teams and with a Tuesday trip to No. 14 Kentucky looming, this was a classic setup for a letdown game. And too many starters in crimson flat out didn’t show up. Riley Norris and Michael Kessens didn’t even attempt a shot or free throw and combined for just six rebounds. Arthur Edwards had seven rebounds but shot a brutal 2-for-11 from the floor for just five points. Justin Coleman had one point off the bench after back-to-back strong performances and a star turn at MSU that began the (now-snapped) five game win streak. If Alabama misses the NCAA tournament, it will look back in disgust at this game, where it got outworked by a younger, thinner (State was missing star freshman Malik Newman) and arguably less-talented team.
What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama should have been able to make up a seven-point deficit when State’s only effective big man, Gavin Ware, hit the bench for a long stretch of the second half with four fouls, but the Tide remained curiously ineffective inside, and allowed MSU to shoot nearly 49 percent from the floor. Retin Obasohan provided his share of offense (22 points, three assists) but was less efficient than usual and missed three foul shots. As a whole, Bama was a paltry 11-for-21 from the foul line.
What was the best part of the game?: Alabama looked loose and confident at the start of the game, outscoring the Bulldogs 11-4 over the first five-plus minutes. And after a brutal 1-for-13 shooting stretch put Bama down nine, it closed with another 11-5 flurry to pull within a basket at halftime. Otherwise it averaged barely a basket per minute on offense.
Who was the star?: Shannon Hale missed the first meeting in Starkville with a foot injury but came off the bench Saturday trying to make up for lost time. He had 22 points in just 26 minutes, including four 3-pointers, and also grabbed five rebounds. Other than he and Obasohan though, Jimmie Taylor (eight points, five rebounds) was the only other player who could claim even a passable effort.
What’s next?: Alabama will try to become the first visitor to win at Rupp Arena in a 6 p.m. Central tipoff Tuesday on ESPN.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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