TUSCALOOSA, Ala., – Mississippi State took No. 2 Alabama down to the wire on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs held a lead against the Crimson Tide for the first 30 minutes of play but their upset bid fell just short in a 66-63 setback inside Coleman Coliseum.
“We’re not here to have a good showing, we’re not here to be close,” said head coach Chris Jans. “We came here to win. Our kids are disappointed, and our staff is disappointed. We knew we’d have to play well and we did for a long time. But we also knew they weren’t going to go away. They’re ranked No. 2 in the country for a reason.”
MSU (12-8, 1-7 SEC) started the game on a 10-2 run and led by as many as 11 points in the opening half. The Bulldogs shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and held Alabama to 3 of 16 from behind the arc. But one of those 3-point attempts clanged in at the buzzer, cutting State’s lead to 36-29 at the break.
Mississippi State maintained its advantage until the 9:19 mark of the second half when Rylan Griffen hit a corner 3. The Tide extended the lead out to eight with 2:15 remaining but a dunk by Cameron Matthews, a layup by Tolu Smith and a pair of free throws by Deshawn Davis gave the Bulldogs a chance down one possession in the final minute.
“I was real proud of how we handled their run,” Jans said. “I thought about calling a timeout a couple of times when it got pretty…