STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State is a talented basketball team that needs no help from its opposition.
Alabama gave help in abundance.
The Crimson Tide took an 81-62 loss at Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday night and the most significant statistic was obvious as MSU had a 28-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.
It was not one of our better nights on the road,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “Anytime you turn the ball over 18 times and that leads to 28 points…then you get outrebounded on top of that – you are going to have a tough time winning the game.”
On several occasions, Alabama’s fumbles spawned MSU fast breaks and sank any Crimson Tide attempts at a comeback.
“The energy was there but the focus wasn’t always there,” said Alabama forward Tevin Mack. “Some of the turnovers we had were just from not being focused. Then they got their hands on some so give them credit too.”
Said Mississippi State coach Ben Howland: “This was the best game we’ve played since I’ve been the coach at Mississippi State. That was a 40-minute effort on both ends.”
Despite its inability to hang on to the ball, Alabama was within single digits at 62-53 with 8:27 to play and had possession of the ball. However, that trip down the floor was stopped, inevitably, by a turnover as Mack was whistled for a charge.
MSU stretched the lead back to 15 points and though Alabama reduced the deficit to 10 points, the Crimson Tide did not score in the final four minutes as the Bulldogs inflated the margin to 19 points.
Mississippi State got a pair of quick 3-point shots from Lamar Peters and Quindarry Weatherspoon out of the gate, taking a lead that it built to as many as 14 points in the first half. Alabama ultimately committed nine turnovers and gave up nine offensive rebounds in the half, which ended with MSU enjoying a comfortable 43-30 lead.
Peters led all scorers with 22 points while Weatherspoon added 20 for the Bulldogs (17-7, 5-6 SEC).
Kira Lewis led Alabama with 17 points, 14 in the second half. Mack added 13 points and Dazon Ingram scored 12 for UA. The loss dropped Alabama to 15-9, 6-5 in the SEC.
UA returns home on Saturday to face Florida.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.