Alabama vs. Mississippi State
- When: Thursday, 2:30 p.m. CT
- Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
- Records: Alabama 17-13, Mississippi State 16-15
- TV: SEC Network
- Radio: 95.3 FM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2017 Southeastern Conference basketball tournament didn’t start with much excitement but at least it was merciful.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs made sure that LSU head coach Johnny Jones, fired earlier this week, had no lingering goodbyes, rolling to a 79-52 win over the Tigers to advance to Thursday’s second round of tournament play.
MSU (16-15) will meet Alabama in that second-round game. The Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi State twice during the regular season, winning 68-58 and 71-62 in a pair of January meetings.
“They’re really a physical team so we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. “They pound you inside, they try to post up. We have to get ready for a knock-down, drag-out. Tonight, we did a good job of digging ourselves out of a couple of holes that we put ourselves in by having slow starts in both halves. But we can’t have such slow starts tomorrow.”
MSU also helped itself by spreading the playing time among 10 different players who played at least 10 minutes. Those players contributed to a whopping 56-12 advantage in bench scoring.
“We were able to do that to an extent last Saturday, too,” Howland said. “That should give us a chance to be a little more rested than if we were playing seven guys around 30 minutes a game.”
“We are just looking to come out and play hard,” said Mississippi State forward Xavian Stapleton. “We know they’re physical so we’ve got to be ready to come out and throw the first punch.”
In Wednesday night’s game, the two teams were even for the first 15 minutes before MSU closed the first half on a 13-0 run. The Tigers battled back to cut the lead to four points with 14 minutes remaining but was overwhelmed down the stretch.
LSU made just one of 22 3-point attempts in the game.
MSU had four players in double figures in the game, led by guard Quindarry Weatherspoon’s 19 points. Freshman guards Tyson Carter (18 points) and Lamar Peters (10 points) also scored in double figures for MSU.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225