After surviving Mississippi State, Alabama basketball has big week with Kentucky, Oklahoma

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

The key shot in Alabama’s 81-73 win over Mississippi State on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum came from John Petty Jr., which was just the way the Crimson Tide preferred things to happen.

Although Petty, the hottest 3-point shooter in the SEC, had made just three of his previous nine shots from behind the arc, his 20-footer with 31.3 seconds to go gave Alabama the critical cushion for its eighth consecutive SEC win.

”We think every shot he takes is going in,” Alabama forward Herb Jones said. “After the game he said, ‘Man, I should have hit you with one more pass,’ and I said, ‘No you shouldn’t.’”

Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (13) drives into the middle of the Mississippi State defense in Coleman Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

“I was a little disappointed at how we executed some of the late-game stuff,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “Not that shot, though. 

“This is a great start to the year. We didn’t play our best but give Mississippi State a lot of  credit. They are really well-coached. They weren’t going to just let us do what we wanted.”

Mississippi State outscored Alabama 38-26 in the paint, in part because of holes in the Alabama roster. Forward Jordan Bruner (knee) is out indefinitely and forward James Rojas was out with an “undisclosed medical condition,” although Oats did not rule out the possibility that Rojas could return for Tuesday night’s ESPN game against Kentucky. 

Additionally, both Herb Jones (hip) and Alex Reese (knee) had to leave the game due to hard falls onto the floor, although both were able to return. Oats credited freshman Keon Ambrose-Hylton for stepping in as a reserve “and giving us some really good minutes.”

On an interview with SEC Now, Petty noted that the Crimson Tide continues to face a difficult road with Kentucky and an SEC-Big 12 Challenge game against Oklahoma ahead.

”It seems like everybody wants a piece of Alabama now,” Petty said. “They can get it, too.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports,com or via Twitter @cecilhurt