Alabama at Mississippi State
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m. CT
Where: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.
Records: Alabama (15-8, 6-4 SEC) MSU (16-7, 4-6 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (95.3 FM locally)
The Alabama men’s basketball team has already defeated Mississippi State once in this Southeastern Conference season, but even UA head coach Avery Johnson concedes that the winning formula from Jan. 19 is unlikely to work again.
The Crimson Tide made just one of 15 3-point attempts in that game and held off a furious Mississippi State rally in the second half to win 83-79.
“We played well in the first half, but they are a dangerous, dangerous team,” Johnson said on Monday. “I don’t think anyone could have guarded Lamar Peters down the stretch that night. They have a lot of offensive weapons, and that’s why they have been ranked for most of the season.”
MSU has slipped out of the Top 25 this week after losing the first two games of a three-game homestand that concludes with Alabama visiting Starkville. The Crimson Tide has won two straight SEC games coming into the contest.
Johnson said Alabama would rely on “some things that worked” in the first game with MSU but also would make alterations.
“You don’t want to skip a step,” Johnson said. “You break them down like it’s brand new. On the other hand, we utilize our video to see how we played them. It’s about 50-50.”
“We feel like (6-foot-10 MSU freshman) Reggie Perry had his coming-out party here (when he scored 18 points in 20 minutes), and he’s continued to be a dominant player since then, and he’s just one of the guys we have to worry about.”
Alabama trying for NCAA Tournament spot
Johnson was asked on Alabama’s Monday night radio show about the importance of the game at Mississippi State in terms of a potential NCAA bid for the Crimson Tide in March.
“Like I said last week, there’s still a lot of meat on that bone,” Johnson said. “We have to take one bite at a time.”
Alabama was ranked No. 43 nationally by the NCAA Net Rankings on Monday. The Bracket Matrix, which monitors NCAA Tournament projections from 98 different sites, shows that Alabama was currently listed as a part of the NCAA’s 68-team tournament in 96 of those 98 projections as a consensus No. 10 seed.
“There is an expiration date on this season but we can postpone our expiration date for a long time if we do what we are capable of,” Johnson said. “This team has a high ceiling (and) we’ve just sort of scratched the surface.”
Two players questionable
Two players who missed the Vanderbilt game last Saturday for medical reasons, Galin Smith (concussion) and Alex Reese (flu-like symptoms), will be “game-time decisions” against Mississippi State, Johnson said.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.