STARKVILLE, Miss. – After leading by eight points at the half, the Alabama men’s basketball team used a dominating second period to pull away from the Mississippi State Bulldogs, finishing the game with a 32-point, 75-43 victory in Starkville, Miss.
Sophomore guard Levi Randolph tied his career-best with 18 points Wednesday night.
The Crimson Tide is now 10-6 overall and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play while the Bulldogs fall to 7-8 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The victory was the largest win by an Alabama team in Humphrey Coliseum.
“This was a great win for us,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought we did a great job on the defensive end of the floor. Coming into the game, I thought Mississippi State had been outstanding defensively. We felt like we could have some success pressing and picking the tempo up a little bit and I thought our guys did a great job on being focused and sticking with our game plan.”
Sophomore guard Levi Randolph led the Tide with 18 points, which tied his career-best, followed closely by sophomore guard Rodney Cooper’s 17 points. Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs recorded the Tide’s first double-double of the year with career highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Trevor Lacey chipped in 11 points and a game-high six assists.
Leading scorer Trevor Releford did not play due to an injured ankle he suffered in practice earlier in the week.
“Trevor sprained his ankle Monday and missed practice (Tuesday),” Grant said. “It felt a little better today, but we just felt like it would be in his best interest to let it heal. Hopefully he will be available for us on Saturday.”
The contest was close until late in the first half, when the Tide began a run that put the game away. Trailing 19-18 with 7:36 left in the opening stanza, Alabama went on the 12-3 spurt to take a 30-22 lead into intermission. UA then opened the second half with 15-straight points on five three-point baskets, three of which came from Lacey.
In all, the 27-3 run which spanned halftime lasted 11:25 and turned a 19-18 deficit into a 45-22 lead with 17:04 remaining in the game.
The Tide finished the contest shooting 53.4 percent (31-of-58) from the floor and a season-best 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from beyond the arc. UA also controlled the boards with a 35-23 edge on the boards, including 13 offensive rebounds that resulted in a 13-2 edge in second chance points.
Alabama was equally impressive on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 21 turnovers to own a big 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers. The Tide finished with a 12 steals and held the Bulldogs to 35.6 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
Alabama returns home Saturday, Jan. 19 against Texas A&M. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. CT and will be televised by Fox Sports Net and aired on Crimson Tide Sports Network.