Second-half Tide surge leaves Bulldogs reeling

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – One Trevor and some relentless defense were all Alabama needed Wednesday night.
With point guard Trevor Releford on the bench nursing a bum ankle, Trevor Lacey sparked the Crimson Tide to a 75-43 win over Mississippi State in front of a season-high 5,465 at Humphrey Coliseum.
Alabama’s defense did the rest, and MSU suffered its second-worst loss since moving into the Hump in 1975. The Bulldogs (7-8, 2-1 SEC) had a three-game winning streak snapped.
“I didn’t feel in one aspect of the game that we competed,” first-year MSU head coach Rick Ray said.
Lacey hit three 3-pointers to open the second half to help Alabama blow the game open, and the sophomore guard scored 9 of his 11 points after halftime.
State had trouble with Alabama’s full-court press and committed 21 turnovers. And it was beaten on the boards, 35-23, by an Alabama team that entered the game 13th in the league in rebounding.
“I didn’t think we were very calm at all,” Ray said. “They sped us up and we stayed sped up, even in halfcourt.”
The Crimson Tide (10-6, 2-1) had 13 second-chance points and 25 points off turnovers.
“We just wanted to keep pressure on them, and obviously we had some success there creating turnovers and getting them out of rhythm,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said.
Turnovers aided Alabama as it scored the first 15 points of the second half, all on 3-pointers, to cap a 21-0 run. MSU was held scoreless for nearly eight minutes.
Levi Randolph, who scored 18 points, hit the final three of that sequence to give Alabama a 45-22 edge at the 17-minute, 20-second mark.
“We closed out on them, and they still made the shot,” MSU guard Jalen Steele said. “We did everything we could, and they still made every shot, every layup. Every tipped ball came to them.
“Just everything was going their way tonight.”
Fred Thomas led MSU with 10 points and was the only double-digit scorer. He made 4 of 8 shots and hit a pair of threes, both in the first half.
MSU shot 35.6 percent overall, while Alabama made 53.4 percent, including 8 of 13 from 3-point range.
Releford, who sprained his ankle in practice on Monday, was dressed out but never played.
“I guess we kind of slacked off since we found out he didn’t play,” Steele said.
A nip-and-tuck first half opened up some toward the end, as Alabama outscored MSU 10-3 over the final seven minutes for a 30-22 lead at the break.
brad.locke@journalinc.com