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HomeBasketballAlabama 68, Mississippi State 58: Tide turns tables to win SEC debut

Alabama 68, Mississippi State 58: Tide turns tables to win SEC debut

By Chris DePew Staff
Jan. 3, 2017

Alabama blew a double-digit halftime lead but built another one in the closing minutes as the clamped down for a 68-58 win at Mississippi State in the SEC opener for both teams.

What did we learn today?: thrives when it can do unto others what so often has been done onto it. By getting back quickly on defense, clogging the passing lanes and contesting shots, Alabama made life miserable for the Bulldogs. MSU looked like a mirror image of Alabama at its worst on offense, scoring just 20 points in the first half and going 1-for-14 from 3-point range. State, which averaged some 74 points a game coming in, shot a miserable 36.5 percent for the game. Star shooting guard Quinndary Weatherspoon scored seven points (12 below his average) and went 2-for-11 from the field.

What was the best part of the game?: With Alabama nursing a 55-50 lead with just over four minutes, Riley Norris made two great plays to break the game open. His rebound and tip-in of an errant shot saved the from a shot clock violation. Less than 30 seconds later, he buried an open 3-pointer to suddenly double the lead to 10 points. Seven of his 11 points came in the final 4:18 to make him one of five with nine or more points, and only Dazon Ingram and Avery Johnson Jr. (13 apiece) had more.

Who was the star?: Ingram nearly had his second career double-double in as many games, finishing with a game-high nine rebounds and also four assists. He and Johnson are starting to click together, even with Corban Collins returning from a groin injury to play 18 minutes.

What were the biggest concerns?: Braxton Key had a short burst of freshman thinking that could have cost his team dearly. Less than three minutes into the second half he picked up his third foul, then added a fourth seconds later on an ill-advised attempt to draw a charge. After accumulating nine points and six rebounds to that point, he didn’t add to either column the rest of the way. struggled to regroup offensively for several minutes in his absence. His five turnovers also stuck out, part of a trend where Bama tried to play uptempo in spurts but only got six fast break points for its trouble.

What’s next?: Longtime nemesis Vanderbilt visits Tuscaloosa on Saturday night for a 6 p.m. tip on ESPNU.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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