By David Brandt/The Associated Press
STARKVILLE— Arnett Moultrie had 25 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 20 Mississippi State rallied in the final minutes to beat Alabama 56-52 on Saturday.
Mississippi State (15-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) was 0 for 14 from 3-point range until late in the second half, when Dee Bost hit three 3-pointers in the final minutes to lift the Bulldogs.
Alabama trailed 33-23 early in the second half but methodically worked its way back into the game with timely baskets and lockdown defense. The Crimson Tide came into the game with the SEC’s best defense, giving up just 55.7 points per game.
The Crimson Tide took a 46-42 lead with 5:40 left, but then Bost’s 3-point barrage began. His last one gave the Bulldogs a 51-48 lead with 1:32 remaining.
JaMychal Green led Alabama (13-4, 2-1) with 14 points. Tony Mitchell and Trevor Lacey each added eight points, but it wasn’t enough as the Tide’s winning streak was snapped at five games.
Green pulled Alabama to 51-50 with 1:20 left after making two free throws. Mississippi State’s Brian Bryant responded with a short running jumper — his first basket of the game — to give the Bulldogs a 53-50 lead with 10 seconds remaining. Bryant also made a layup with 1.2 seconds left that sealed the victory.
Bost’s 3-pointers might just be the signal that a lengthy shooting slump is over. He shot just 21 of 76 from the field (27.6 percent) over the past six games, and was having another rough game before the scoring outburst, missing his first four 3-point attempts.
Bost was key in the clutch, splashing home three straight from beyond the arc as a sold out Humphrey Coliseum roared in the background.
He finished with 17 points on 6 of 13 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range.
Until the frantic final minutes, it was a grinding, halfcourt game that focused on each team’s post players.
Moultrie got the best of the matchup, with 14 points and seven rebounds in the first half. His tip-in at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 27-21 halftime lead.
The 6-foot-11 Moultrie has been one of the SEC’s most productive players, averaging 15.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, and he gave the Crimson Tide plenty of problems with his athleticism and touch around the basket. He made 10 of 14 shots from the field and 5 of 7 from the free-throw line.
He was quiet in the game’s final minutes, but that was because Bost was taking all the shots. Nobody was arguing considering the results.
Read more about this game in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.