By Logan Lowery
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The focal point of Mississippi State’s defensive game plan on Wednesday night was to slow down Alabama star senior Trevor Releford.
However, the plan failed miserably.
Releford exploded for 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting, tying a career-high with six 3-pointers, as the Crimson Tide rolled to an 80-61 win over the Bulldogs.
“Trevor Releford is a good player and it’s no secret that he played the way that he played,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “He’s been averaging 22 points in the last four games. But we made Trevor Releford better than what he is by doing what we’re not supposed to do with our defensive assignments.”
The Bulldogs (11-5, 1-2) made the game’s first basket but it would be their only lead of the evening. Alabama held a four-point lead with 3:56 remaining in the first half then closed out on a 9-0 run to take a 38-26 lead into the locker room.
“I thought that was huge and we really didn’t have a way to stop it,” Ray said.
The Tide went on to outscore State 42-35 in the second half to even its record to 8-8 on the year and improve to 2-1 in SEC play. Alabama shot 52.6 percent from the field for the game.
Shannon Hale added 12 points for the Crimson Tide followed by 11 from Retin Obasohan and Rodney Cooper with 10.
Mississippi State shot 44 percent from the floor but committed 14 turnovers. Gavin Ware paced the scoring with 18 points followed by Craig Sword with 12 points.
“We have to find a way to handle adversity,” Ware said. “Just by not doing some of the stuff before the game and at halftime we weren’t able to come in as a team and jump over that hill and try to win the game.”
Freshman point guard I.J. Ready left the game at the 9:12 mark of the first half after taking a charge and did not return. There were reports that he was showing symptoms of a concussion.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Bulldogs inside Coleman Coliseum and fourth consecutive win in the series for Alabama.
MSU returns home Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. tipoff against Texas A&M.