TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It wasn’t pretty, but Alabama held on for its eighth conference win of the season thanks to a 66-63 victory on Wednesday.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s ninth straight win.
Alabama frigid first half
While temperatures hovered just above freezing outside the Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday, it was even colder inside the building.
Alabama shot a cool 33% in the first half en route to scoring just 29 points through the first 20 minutes of play. It marked the second time the Crimson Tide had been held under 30 points this season and the first time since the team defeated then-No. 1 Houston on December 10. Coupled with their icy shots from the field, the Crimson Tide made just three of their 16 3-point attempts in the first half. Brandon Miller led the team in scoring with just six points, as Alabama didn’t have a scorer break into double digits until Miller did it with 11:35 remaining in the second half.
The team’s unusually cold night not only stuck to the offensive end of the court, but Alabama struggled to stop Mississippi State as they shot 56.7% from the field in the first half. The Bulldogs were led by Tolu Smith’s 10-pointer shooting an efficient 5-of-7 from the floor.
Mississippi State dominates in the paint
Part of what made Mississippi State so hard to stop on Wednesday was their ability to score in the paint. For only the third time this season, Alabama lost the points in the paint battle as the Bulldogs outscored the Crimson Tide 40-26. Against Gonzaga and UConn, Alabama was outplayed in the paint, resulting in both of their losses this season.
The Bulldogs opted to use that same strategy to pummel Alabama on the inside while constantly feeding Smith and DJ Jefferies throughout the game. The duo combined for 24 points, all of which came within 15 feet of the basket. However, in the second half, Alabama made adjustments that stalled the Bulldogs’ offense. After shooting 56% from the ground, Mississippi State sported a 34.6% shooting percentage in the second half while holding Smith to just five points during that time.
Alabama’s winning scoring streak
Despite struggling throughout the game, Alabama showed signs of being a champion team. During the final seven minutes of the game, the Crimson Tide went on a 17-11 run that did not give Alabama its first lead of the game; it was the only lead he needed to secure his 18th win of the season.
Jahvon Quinerly pioneered the game-winning run, scoring a team-high seven points, five of which came from the free throw line. Quinerly ended up being Alabama’s most consistent offensive threat, as he had 14 points and four assists in the win. Along with Quinerly, Alabama garnered major contributions from Miller, Mark Sears, Noah Clowney, and Rylan Griffen.