STARKVILLE, Miss. | Attrition bit the University of Alabama men’s basketball team again on Tuesday night, and poor second-half shooting didn’t help either.
The Crimson Tide, playing the game’s final 27 minutes without junior forward John Petty, fell to Mississippi State 80-73, dropping to 15-13 overall and 7-8 in the SEC.
Despite the loss of Petty and the subsequent struggles to score, Alabama was in the game until just over two minutes remained. Trailing 73-69, Alabama missed four makeable shots, failing to make it a one-possession game. MSU’s Tyson Carter then scored six straight points, two layups and a pair of free throws, to keep UA at bay.
The Crimson Tide struggled to score in the second half, shooting just 33 percent from the floor.
“I don’t fault our effort,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We were diving on the floor, battling at the rim. But you’ve also got to make some layups and some free throws.
“We’ve had a problem with close games but until some guys decide to get in the gym and fix them, we’ll keep having them.”
Petty went down on a scramble for a loose ball with 7:35 remaining in the first half, his arm bending awkwardly as he dove on the floor. He was taken from the court in obvious pain. He did not return and Oats said his elbow injury would be further evaluated on Wednesday morning.
Alabama trailed 28-27 when Petty went out and responded with a 7-0 run but MSU pushed back to a two-point lead, 41-39, at intermission.
Kira Lewis did provide solid scoring, finishing with 29 points. He tied the game at 59-59. with a traditional 3-point play with 9:35 remaining. But MSU answered with a 7-2 run as Alabama tried to operate with a smaller lineup.
“Other than (Alex) Reese (who was 2-for-9 from the floor), Petty is our only big wing that can shoot. So we are out there without the best shooter in the SEC and we are trying to play Shack (Jaden Shackelford) at the (small forward.) But you still have to step up and make free throws.”
Alabama was 8-for-15 from the line and made just two of its last seven foul shots in the game.
Reggie Perry led Mississippi State (18-10, 9-6 SEC) with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Alabama will be back in action on Saturday, hosting South Carolina.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @cecilhurt
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt