TUSCALOOSA, Ala. | Recapping MSU’s 64-56 loss to Alabama at Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night.
• The buzz: Despite getting junior guard Jalen Steele back from a three-game suspension, MSU (7-18, 2-11 SEC) couldn’t muster enough offense, and Alabama (18-8, 10-3) swept the season series. This time, at least, MSU didn’t let the game get away in the second half, and in fact was within four points with 5:20 to go. This was MSU’s 11th consecutive loss.
• Turning point: After Steele’s 3-pointer made it 47-43 at the 5:20 mark, Alabama went on a 9-2 run to gain the separation it needed. A pair of Craig Sword turnovers led to fast-break buckets for the Tide, and Rodney Cooper‘s dunk made it 56-45 with 2:20 left.
• MVP: Steele scored a team-high 15 points and made some big shots.
• MSU leaders: Steele 15 points (4-10 FGs, 3-6 3FGs, 4-4 FTs), 4 rebounds; Colin Borchert 14 points (5-11 FGs, 1-3 3FGs, 3-6 FTs), 9 rebounds, 5 turnovers.
• Alabama leaders: Cooper 20 points (7-10 FGs, 2-3 3FGs, 4-4 FTs), 10 rebounds, 3 steals; Trevor Releford 17 points (5-10 FGs, 0-2 3FGs, 7-9 FTs), 5 rebounds, 5 assists; Trevor Lacey 11 points (5-12 FGs, 1-5 3FGs).
• Key stats: MSU committed 23 turnovers to Alabama’s 14. … Bama had 23 points off those turnovers, while State had seven. … MSU won the rebounding battle, 33-31. … Bama outscored State in the paint, 30-16. … MSU shot 54.5 percent from the field in the second half, 41.7 percent for the game. … The Tide shot 39.2 percent overall, 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
• Highlight reel: Borchert had back-to-back buckets – a jumper and a layup – to cut Bama’s lead to 45-37.
• Quotable: “I thought our whole team brought a tremendous competitive spirit. Now, we went back to some things offensively toward the end there as far as not taking care of the basketball and turning it over.” – MSU coach Rick Ray
• Bottom line: MSU is now 1-6 on the SEC road, but this was the first of those road losses that wasn’t by double digits. The players and Ray, too, were rather upbeat after the game and feel this is something they can build off of for the future. Considering the Bulldogs were playing with just six scholarship guys and only two true post players, it was a valiant effort. A note: Freshman guard Fred Thomas was 0 of 7 shooting, and he was playing a day after being on crutches and in a protective boot because of an ankle injury he suffered in practice.
• Up next: MSU hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday (12:30 p.m., SEC Network).