Alabama is 13-3 on the season, its best start since 2006-07, and the team took out league rival LSU in a 69-53 final on Wednesday -- just two days after the football team did the same in the BCS National Championship Game. The hoops victory was UA's first in conference this year and its fifth straight overall. The Tide lost their first two true road games of the season (at Dayton, at Kansas State), but have rebounded in their last two (at Georgia Tech, at Georgia) to even their road mark at 2-2.
Mississippi State has played one more game than has its counterpart today, and the Bulldogs are 14-3 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. MSU dropped a 98-88 decision at Arkansas last Saturday in its league opener, but bounced back with a 62-58 win at home over Tennessee on Thursday night. The Bulldogs have built their impressive resume' on the strength of an 11-game win streak from November 12- December 22. Mississippi State is 10-1 at home this season, giving the team some added confidence heading into this affair.
Alabama owns a 114-72 advantage in the long-standing rivalry with Mississippi State, and the Tide have won the last two meetings.
Trevor Releford hit 9-of-11 shots from the field to match his season high with 20 points in leading Alabama past LSU earlier this week. In addition to Releford being on top of his game, the Tide also got a double-double performance from Tony Mitchell who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Trevor Lacey also grabbed 10 boards helping the team outmuscle the Tigers on the glass, 39-29. As a team, Alabama shot 50.8 percent from the field while holding LSU to 35.8 percent. Both teams committed 15 turnovers, but the Tide outscored the Tigers off those miscues, 25-10. Mitchell (14.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Green (14.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Releford (12.8 ppg, 3.2 apg) are all averaging double digits in the scoring column for coach Anthony Grant's club, which is putting up 67.7 ppg in hitting 47.7 percent of its total shots, but just 27.7 percent of its three-pointers. In keeping in line with that of its National Champion brethren from the gridiron, Alabama plays suffocating defense as foes are netting just 55.7 ppg on typical shooting ouputs of only 36.6 percent overall and 26.3 percent from beyond the arc.
It wasn't pretty, but Mississippi State won its 14th game of the season by outlasting a scrappy Tennessee team on Thursday night. The Bulldogs knocked down 44.0 percent of their field goal attempts, but only 5-of-16 three-point tries, and they were actually outrebounded, 35-28. Renardo Sidney was one of three players to score 13 points for MSU, which committed just nine turnovers compared to 14 for the Volunteers. Arnett Moultrie and Dee Bost both hit for a bakers' dozen in the clash, and a 13-5 edge in points from the foul line also helped the home team's cause. Bost (16.0 ppg, 4.4 apg) heads a list of four players averaging double figures in the scoring column for coach Rick Stansbury's club this year, and Moultrie (15.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg) is one of a handful of players nationally averaging a double-double. Collectively, the Bulldogs are lighting up the scoreboard for just shy of 75 ppg behind 47.2 percent field goal accuracy, which includes a 35.4 percent showing from downtown. Defensively, MSU allows 64.8 ppg while sporting a +3.4 rebounding margin.