STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)Reggie Perry scored 21 points and Tyson Carter added 19 as Mississippi State held off Alabama 80-73 on Tuesday night.
Perry also added 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs (18-10, 9-6 SEC) for his conference-leading 15th double-double of the season. The sophomore also has 24 career double-doubles, the most by a Bulldog in their first two seasons. Robert Woodard added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Carter was 6 of 10 from the field and a perfect 6 of 6 at the free throw line. The senior guard also added a game-high five assists.
”This game was very important for us,” Carter said. ”Sometimes in close games it gets away from us and I was trying to make sure it didn’t happen tonight. It feels good but we can’t have any letdowns. We had this same feeling last week so we’ve got to get back to practice and go even harder.”
Kira Lewis Jr. scored 29 points to lead Alabama (15-13, 7-8). Jaden Shackelford had 17 points and James Bolden finished with 11. Alabama’s John Petty Jr. suffered an elbow injury at the midway point of the first half and did not return the rest of the game after scoring eight points in nine minutes.
”I thought that was obviously a huge, huge win for us tonight against a really good team that is incredibly coached well,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. ”I thought the key in the first half was (Alabama) knocking down 3s and I think they were 8 of 17 in that half. In the second half we did a much better job and I was really proud of our defense. And Reggie Perry had three big blocks and we had eight blocks overall.”
Mississippi State stretched a 41-39 halftime advantage to 53-45 early in the second half following a Nick Weatherspoon bucket. However, Alabama responded quickly with a 14-6 run and tied the game at 59-59 with 9:35 left in regulation thanks to a three-point play by Lewis.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 71-62 with 4:43 left after a pair of free throws by Carter. The Crimson Tide came as close as 77-73 with 17 seconds left on a Shackleford putback before Carter and Perry made 3 of 4 from the line to close out the game.
Mississippi State shot 53% from the field, including 59% in the second half. The Bulldogs made 4 of 14 beyond the arc and made 16 of 19 at the line. Alabama shot 38.6% from the floor and made just 3 of 15 from 3-point territory in the second half. Both teams had 37 rebounds while Alabama was just 8 of 15 at the free throw line.
”We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Alabama coach Nate Oats. ”(Reggie) Perry had a good night and he is a really good player, obviously. We missed some wide open 3s and layups, especially with (John) Petty not in there. It was not quite enough to beat a good team like Mississippi State tonight. They’ve got long athletes and Petty is our biggest wing that can shoot. So we missed him and our rotation got shortened.”
The opening half was back and forth and neither team led by more than six. The first half also featured 16 lead changes and four ties.
Lewis knocked down his third 3-pointer of the first half to cap a 7-0 Alabama run, giving the Tide a 34-28 lead with 5:02 left in the half. However, Mississippi State closed the half on a 13-4 run that was capped by a Weatherspoon 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 41-39 halftime advantage.
Alabama shot 47% in the first half and made 8 of 17 beyond the arc. Mississippi State shot 49% overall from the field and made 3 of 8 from 3-point territory. The Bulldogs held a slim 18-17 rebounding advantage in the first half, and had 11 assists and five turnovers. Alabama had eight turnovers in the first half.
Alabama: The Tide are now 2-5 in SEC road games this season and have dropped three straight games at Mississippi State.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive and grabbed a critical win over Alabama. Mississippi State now plays two of the final three regular-season games on the road.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide host South Carolina on Saturday.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs return to the road and play at Missouri on Saturday.
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