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No. 2 Alabama escapes with tight win over Mississippi State

Jan 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Alabama head coach Nate Oats yells at his players during the first half of the game against Vanderbilt at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Jahvon Quinerly had 14 points, four assists and four rebounds as No. 2 Alabama rallied from an 11-point deficit to edge Mississippi State 66-63 on Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

With the Crimson Tide ahead by three in the closing seconds, Alabama’s Noah Gurley blocked a 3-point attempt by Shakeel Moore to preserve the team’s ninth straight win.

Alabama (18-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) swept the two-game regular-season series with the Bulldogs (12-8, 1-7), who lost their fifth consecutive contest.

Brandon Miller had 13 points, six rebounds and three steals for the Crimson Tide, who won for the sixth time in the past seven matchups with Mississippi State. Noah Clowney added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Alabama made 19 of 22 free throws (86.4 percent) to Mississippi State’s 8 of 12 (66.7 percent). The Crimson Tide held a 22-9 edge in points off turnovers.

The Bulldogs’ Tolu Smith had 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Dashawn Davis scored 14 points.

Playing with its highest ranking since December 2002, Alabama struggled to score early.

Mississippi State raced out to a 10-2 lead on Davis’ jumper, keeping the home crowd quiet and the Crimson Tide seeking offense.

Smith’s production carried the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-11 forward already had eight points and three boards as Mississippi State took its biggest lead, 20-9, with nine minutes left in the half.

On the half’s final play, Quinerly fed Dom Welch, who rattled home a 3-pointer at the buzzer. That bucket left the Crimson Tide down 36-29 at the break.

Smith’s 10 first-half points came on 5-of-7 shooting as Mississippi State shot 17 of 30 (56.7 percent). Meanwhile, Alabama connected on just 10 of 30 attempts (33.3 percent) and was outscored 26-14 in the paint.

At 12:25 of the second half, Alabama went into the bonus, and the Crimson Tide quickly made 4 of 5 free throws to get the deficit to 46-45 with 10 minutes to play. Rylan Griffen’s trey from the corner gave Alabama its first lead, 48-46, with 9:19 to go.

Clowney’s dunk off a lob from Quinerly put the Crimson Tide up 55-53 with 6:39 left, and Alabama drained 5 of 6 free throws through the game’s end.

–Field Level Media