TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, – Mississippi State brought No. 2 Alabama online Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs held a lead against the Crimson Tide in the first 30 minutes of the game, but their angry bid fell just short in a 66-63 setback at the Coleman Coliseum.
“We’re not here to perform well, we’re not here to be close,” said the head coach Chris Jans. “We came here to win. Our children are disappointed and our employees are disappointed. We knew we had to play well and we did that for a long time. But we also knew that they would not go away. not returned to number 2 in the country for nothing.”
MSU (12-8, 1-7 SEC) started the game on a 10-2 run and led by as much as 11 points in the first half. The Bulldogs shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and held Alabama behind the arc on 3-of-16. But one of those 3-point attempts rang the buzzer and cut State’s lead to 36-29 at the break.
Mississippi State maintained its advantage until the 9:19 mark of the second half when Rylan Griffen hit a corner 3. The Tide extended the lead to eight with 2:15 remaining but one dunk over Cameron Matthewsa layup of Tolu Smith and two free throws by Deshawn Davis gave the Bulldogs a last-minute chance to lose possession.
“I was really proud of how we managed her run,” said Jans. “I thought about taking a time-out a couple of times when it got pretty loud as they passed us. But we had a couple of possessions there where we calmed them down with some big hits and nice offensive possessions.”
With three minus points, the MSU defense got the necessary stop with 17 seconds to go. The Bulldogs had two shot attempts in the waning moments, but neither was true, allowing Alabama to improve to 18-2 overall and 8-0 in conference play.
For the game, State shot 46.4 percent from field and held the tide at 36.8 percent. The Bulldogs scored 40 of their points in the paint, led by Smith’s 15-point outing on 6 of 9 shooting.
Davis was the only other Mississippi State player to be in double figures, recording 14 points and four team-high steals.
“Our record doesn’t reflect how good we are,” said Smith. “I know this may sound cliche, but it’s true. This was the nation’s No. 2 and we lost by three in a game we should have won. If we play like that for 40 minutes, the result would be different in most games and in most cases.”
Jahvon Quinerly led Alabama with 14 points, followed by Noah Clowney and Brandon Miller with 13 points each.
The Bulldogs have another high-ranked opponent on deck on Saturday as they leave the conference to play No. 11 TCU at 3 p.m. at the Humphrey Coliseum as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
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