Saturday's game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs of Mississippi State featured two teams that were both streaking, although in opposite directions. After a hard fought forty minutes on the Coleman Coliseum court in front of 13,774 enthusiastic Tide fans, nothing had changed for either team. Alabama, who has now won 6 of their last 8, was able to pull away from State for a 67-50 win after going in to the half tied at 25 all. For State, a team who once looked like a lock for the NCAA Tournament, it was their fifth straight loss.
The Tide, whose record now improves to 19-9 and 8-6 in Southeastern Conference play, were led by guard/forward Levi Randolph and his career-high and game-high 18 points. The freshman also had a team-high 7 rebounds to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals in a workman-like 33 minutes of play. Bama also received a huge boost off their bench, as star forward JaMychal Green scored 9 points in his first game back after serving a 4 game suspension. The senior also had 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes of work. Sophomore point guard Trevor Releford had 10 points and 4 assists while his backcourt mate, senior Andrew Steele, contributed 9 points. Although Carl Engstrom did not score for the Tide, the sophomore center from Sweden was a huge factor on defense as he had 5 rebounds and 4 blocks in 24 minutes of play.
Coach Anthony Grant could not help but be pleased with the effort given by his team, especially in the second half. The 3rd year coach also felt that the Tide's defensive effort made the difference, as the Tide held State to a season-low 50 points.
"I'm just really proud of our guys today," Grant said. "We were kind of slow starting off offensively and some of our plays didn't go to plan, but we always say it's a 40-minute game. We gave up some easy baskets out of transition and in the press. In the second half we got some shots to fall and our defensive intensity was the difference."
Coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs saw their record fall to 19-10 overall and 6-8 in the SEC. The Bulldogs shot a porous 18 of 47 from the field while allowing the Tide to pull away with 42 second half points. Forward Renardo Sidney and guard Dee Bost paced the 'Dogs with 14 points each. Bost led the team in assists with 4. Star forward Arnett Moultrie, who torched the Tide earlier this season for 25 points and 13 rebounds in State's 56-52 victory, led State with 8 rebounds, but was held to only 7 points, thanks to Engstrom's and Green's presence in the post.
Next up for the Tide is their home season finale against the archrival Auburn Tigers on Wednesday night in Coleman Coliseum. Tip-off will be at 7 pm CT with the Sec Network set to broadcast the game.