Tide rolls past Mississippi State

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men's basketball team improved to 19-9 overall and 8-6 in Southeastern Conference play, winning its third game in a row with a resounding 67-50 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in front of 13,774 fans at Coleman Coliseum Saturday.

Freshman guard Levi Randolph scored a career-high 18 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford added 10 points and four assists, while junior guard Andrew Steele and senior forward JaMychal Green -  in his first game back following a four-game suspension - each scored nine points apiece.

The Crimson Tide held Mississippi State to season lows in points (50), field goals made (18) and field goal attempts (47). Moreover, Alabama's 42 second-half points were the second-most the Tide has registered in a second half this season and the third-most the Bulldogs have allowed.

"I'm just really proud of our guys today," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "We were kind of slow starting off offensively and some of our plays didn't go to plan, but we always say it's a 40-minute game. We gave up some easy baskets out of transition and in the press. In the second half we got some shots to fall and our defensive intensity was the difference."

After trading baskets to open the game, Alabama outscored the Bulldogs 8-2 over a five-and-a-half minute stretch to take a 16-9 lead at the 10:59 juncture of the first half. The Tide limited Mississippi State to just one field goal, while forcing three turnovers during the run.

Following the Alabama scoring spurt, MSU reclaimed the lead with a 13-4 run of its own, spanning nearly seven-and-a-half minutes of the half, to pull in front 22-20 at the 3:37 mark. From there, the Tide was able to tie the game, 25-25, at intermission on the strength of three Releford free throws with .4 seconds remaining in the first half.

Alabama opened the second half on 10-2 run connecting on five of its first six shots, including three of four from beyond the three-point arc, to take a 35-27 lead. Going back to the end of the first half, the Tide outscored Mississippi State 13-2 over a stretch of nearly three minutes to turn a three-point deficit into an eight-point advantage.

From there Alabama's lead fluctuated between five and ten points for the next five minutes of action before a decisive 14-1 run, fueled by key contributions from Releford and sophomore guard Charles Hankerson, gave the Tide a 57-39 advantage with just under seven minutes to play.

Following the run, Alabama maintained an advantage of no fewer than 15 points over the game's final minutes to secure the victory. Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney each led the Bulldogs (19-10 overall, 6-8 SEC) with 14 points each.

In its final home game of the regular season, the Tide hosts the Auburn Tigers Wednesday, Feb. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CST).