Alabama cruises past Mississippi State in SEC Tournament opener

3/9/17 MBB MSU SEC Tournament Alabama's Riley Norris (1) Alabama's Head Coach Avery Johnson Alabama's Dazon Ingram (12) Photo by Kent Gidley

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Alabama men’s basketball team won its opening game of the 2017 SEC Tournament, 75-55, over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram led the Tide with 17 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the field, while senior Corban Collins added 14 off the bench on the strength of four three-pointers.

“We had a pretty good performance for us on both ends of the floor,” head coach Avery Johnson said.  “We’ve been pretty consistent defensive team all year.  Fortunately tonight we had little bit of a combined effort both on the defensive and the offensive end.  We got off to a good start.  We thought we set a great tone for type of pace we wanted the play this game, and fortunately some shots went down for us. We were patient on offense, very physical on defense.”

Alabama’s defense came ready to play as the Tide forced three turnovers before the first media time out and held the Bulldogs scoreless for over two minutes twice in the first half. By the 8:47 mark, Alabama held a 21-11 lead and extended that to 34-22 at halftime.

The Tide only turned the ball over twice in the first 20 minutes, the fewest miscues in a half this season. Ingram scored 10 points while hitting all four of his shots from the field in the first half. Alabama held the Bulldogs to just 33 percent shooting while making 46 percent of its attempts from the field.

Leading 37-27 with 17:58 to play, Alabama put together a game-deciding 18-0 run that lasted 6:25 as Mississippi State went 0-of-11 from the field during the stretch. The run stretched Alabama’s 10-point lead to 28, up 55-27. Alabama would eventually lead by as many 30 points as the teams traded baskets down the stretch. Mississippi State never got any closer than 20 as the Tide led wire-to-wire on its way to the second-round SEC Tournament victory.

Alabama finished with a season-low nine turnovers and held its opponent to a season-low six free throw attempts. The Tide matched its fourth-largest margin of victory in SEC Tournament play in program history.  With the win, the Tide has defeated Mississippi State three times this season, marking the first time Alabama has claimed three wins over the Bulldogs in a single season since 1985-86, and 12 of the last 15 games played between the two teams.

Alabama will advance to take on No. 4-seed South Carolina tomorrow afternoon. The contest will be a rematch of the Tide’s quadruple overtime victory over the Gamecocks on Feb. 7 in Columbia, S.C. The Tide will tip off 25 minutes after the end of the day’s first game at approximately 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

COURTESY ALABAMA SPORTS INFORMATION

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