No. 2 Alabama sets perfect SEC record against Mississippi St.
Through seven convincing victories in the Southeastern Conference, Coach Nate Oats has watched his second-place squad from Alabama do as well – if not better – than any other team in the country.
Oats will be looking for the Crimson Tide to stay perfect in conference play when his team takes on the struggling Mississippi State Bulldogs Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The clash is the second this season between the two teams.
In his seven SEC wins, Alabama (17-2, 7-0 SEC) has won by averaging 21 points per game.
On Saturday, against a Missouri team, an emotional home win rolls over the then-No. 25 Arkansas team, Oats, frustrating the hosting Tigers, who are among the nation’s best at forcing turnovers.
However, Alabama cared about the ball, and their defense was outstanding. In doing so, Missouri kept 32.9 percent (23 of 70) from the field and just 10.7 percent (3 of 28) from far.
“We’re lucky they didn’t get a three-pointer tonight and that certainly helped our defense,” Oats said. “They scratch and play hard so give our guys a lot of credit because I thought we played hard for most of the game.
“We had a lot of emphasis on Missouri being #1 for turning the ball and getting turnover rate on defense, so we had 11 turnovers in the game. … Our guys have largely done what we asked them to do.”
On December 28 at Mississippi State (12-7, 1-6), Alabama kicked off its SEC season with a 78-67 win behind Brandon Miller’s third double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) of the season. The Tide hosted 20-to-55 shootouts (36.4 percent).
After his Tigers lost on their home court at 21 on Saturday, Missouri coach Dennis Gates has seen enough.
“No. 1 team in the country, Alabama,” Gates said. “I’ve been saying it all along. They’ve got the length. They’ve got the athleticism. They’ve got the shooting ability that I thought we had in the first suppressed half-time because they rely on it.”
With the perfect touch, the Crimson Tide have a one-game lead over two 6-1 teams — Tennessee and Auburn — in the conference.
Mississippi State coach Chris Jans watched his side bounce back from a 16-point deficit against Florida on Saturday night and rebounded the home game 45-45, 9-14 before finishing 61-59 against the Gators. The Bulldogs missed two attempts to force overtime in the final seconds.
The downturn in the Mississippi state election campaign was dramatic.
Before the Battle of the Vaults in Lincoln, Neb. on December 20, Jans’ then-No. 15 Bulldogs were 11-0, ranked No. 2 in defense nationally, and remained one of the few undefeated teams nationwide.
But they lost 58-52 to Drake and have won just once in their last eight games.
“It’s a really frustrated group of guys,” said junior swingman Cameron Matthews. “We work too hard to be that close in every game. We know we can beat these teams, we just have to go back to the drawing board and figure out some things and get it right again.”
Since the 2016-17 season, the Bulldogs have won just four of 15 encounters with Alabama.
–Field level media