TUSCALOOSA, AL. — Mississippi State University trailed by 20 to the University of Alabama at one point in their men’s basketball game on Saturday night, but with 6:50 left in the game, MSU (14-5, 2-4) turned a blowout into a late-game thriller as they tied the game for the first time since the opening tip.
The Bulldogs battled the Crimson Tide (13-6, 5-2 SEC) for the final six minutes of the game in a back and forth game that was tied multiple times. In the end it was not enough as the Bulldogs fell to Alabama by a score of 68-62.
“I was really proud of our fight of our guys roaring back and gave us a chance in the last five minutes,” head coach Ben Howland said. “It is a tough loss considering how we fought back and gave ourselves a chance.”
With freshman phenom Collin Sexton out for Alabama, MSU looked to be in a good spot to pick up a solid conference win. That was not the case early as MSU went into halftime down 41-22.
At halftime, Alabama shot 51.6 percent from the field and MSU shot 32 percent. Alabama out-rebounded MSU 20-17 and assisted 12 times compared to MSU’s two.
The second half was a different story. In the second half, MSU shot 41.9 percent from the field, compared to Alabama’s 31 percent. MSU out-rebounded Alabama 21-20 in the second half. MSU made five threes in the second half compared to the two they made in the first half.
“You have to play for 40 minutes,” Howland said.
Lamar Peters, a sophomore guard from New Orleans, Louisiana, sparked the comeback for MSU. He scored three straight threes for MSU in the second half to bring them within single digits. He finished the night leading MSU in total points with 17 points.
“Got a couple good looks and just tried to make a couple plays for the team,” Peters said. “I got hot at the right time. That is what we needed and it was able to bring us back and give us a chance to win this game.”
Aric Holman stood out for MSU with a double-double, he scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Quinndary Weatherspoon also played well, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Braxton Key, who scored 19 points, a game-high, led Alabama along with center Daniel Giddens, who scored 13 points.
Also a note, junior guard Xavian Stapleton sat out this game with a one-game suspension. Howland said it was for “behavior unbecoming of a Mississippi State basketball player.” Stapleton will rejoin the team Saturday and will not miss any more games for this incident. This was his second one-game suspension of the season as he sat out MSU”s loss to Florida for an arrest earlier in the season.
MSU will be on the road once again on Tuesday in their primetime matchup with the No. 18 University of Kentucky (14-5, 4-3 SEC). The game is at Kentucky in Rupp Arena and ESPN will broadcast the game. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.