By Logan Lowery
Mississippi State was swept by Alabama last season.
One of those losses was by 32 points and the Bulldogs have not forgotten. MSU gets a chance at redemption by venturing across the state line to take on the Crimson Tide at 7 p.m. tonight.
“We pretty much got demolished,” said MSU forward Colin Borchert. “There was nothing we could do. We have to go out there and fight. They are a well coached team and they have good players. I know a couple of people transferred here and there but they’ve got new people in that are even better. It’s a big challenge for us to go in and prove ourselves.”
Alabama claimed a 75-43 victory in Starkville last year but the Bulldogs were able to hold things closer during their visit to Tuscaloosa, 64-56.
The Crimson Tide have won three straight to push their lead to 117-73 in the series. Alabama has won five straight in Coleman Coliseum and hold a 75-14 advantage in Tuscaloosa against State.
“It’s going to be a tough environment in Tuscaloosa,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “They do some things that we struggle with. They press in the full court and turn the ball over and they play some zone and obviously we struggle against the zone because of our shooting woes. But we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Bulldogs are 1-1 in SEC play and 11-4 overall on the year. Mississippi State is coming off a 76-72 home victory over Ole Miss on Saturday receiving 20 points from forward Roquez Johnson in 27 minutes off the bench.
“They are playing very good basketball right now,” said Alabama coach Anthony Grant. “They’ve had an outstanding record in non-conference so we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing them. They’re playing with a great tempo defensively and giving you a lot of different looks.”
The Bulldogs are shooting 45.1 percent from the field and averaging 70.7 points per game. The Bulldogs are hitting 29 percent from 3-point range and 65 percent from the free throw line. MSU leads the SEC and are 10th nationally with 9.6 steals a contest.
Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword paces the Bulldogs with 14.7 points. Against Ole Miss, Sword scored 15 points, all from the free throw line.
Alabama is also off to a 1-1 start in conference play with a 68-63 win over Vanderbilt before falling 66-58 at Georgia on Saturday. The Tide sport a 7-8 record.
Grant’s squad is shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and scoring 71.3 points. Alabama is knocking down 33.5 percent behind the arc and 69.9 percent from the free throw line.
Senior guard Trevor Releford leads the Crimson Tide with 18.2 points per game.