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Bulldogs suffer first SEC loss

There was a power outage at Humphrey Coliseum two hours prior to Wednesday's contest between Mississippi State and Alabama. The lights eventually came on but the Bulldogs struggled all night to find any fireworks or power on offense.

Alabama shot 53.4 percent for the game, including 67.9 percent in the second half, en route to an easy 75-43 win over the Bulldogs. It was the first SEC loss for the Bulldogs, who fell to 2-1 in the SEC and 7-8 overall. Alabama moved to 10-6 and 2-1.

Afterwards, MSU head coach Rick Ray was more concerned about his team's lack of competitiveness than he was with the lopsided score.

"I am really disappointed in the way our guys came out and played tonight," said Ray. "I thought there were several factors in what contributed to that. I think our guys let down right away when they found out (Alabama point guard Trevor) Releford wasn't playing.

"I thought also our two practices (this week) we were satisfied with the way we got off to a 2-0 start. The biggest disappointment I had is we didn't compete. We've lost some games before and beaten badly on the court before but I always felt our competitive nature was really good. I didn't feel that way at all today."

Alabama went to work in the paint early and often and used that advantage in the first half en route to a 30-22 halftime advantage. The Tide out-scored the Bulldogs 18-4 in the paint in the opening half and also had 11 second-chance points and eight offensive boards in the first half alone.

There were actually three ties and nine lead changes in the first half. MSU trailed just 24-22 following a Colin Borchert three-pointer with 4:38 left in the first half. But the next time MSU scored was on a Jalen Steele runner in the lane with 16:48 left in the second half.

Alabama won the battle of the boards 35-23 and ended up outscoring MSU 38-18 in the paint. The Bulldogs also had 21 turnovers and shot just 35.8 percent for the game.

"They beat us to a lot of offensive rebounds," said Ray. "Not just offensive rebounds but they beat us to a lot of loose balls, too."

In the second half, the Tide took to the perimeter to finish the Bulldogs off. Alabama's Trevor Lacey hit a trio of treys in the opening minutes and Alabama built a 45-22 advantage and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

"They made every shot they put up," said Steele, who had just five points on 2-of-8 shooting. "We closed out on them and they still made the shot. We did everything we could and they still made every layup and every tipped ball came to them. Everything was going their way tonight."

Levi Randolph had 18 points for the Tide while Rodney Cooper had 17. Nick Jacobs added 17 points and 11 boards while Lacey finished with 11 points for Alabama.

Fred Thomas was the lone Bulldog in double digits with 10 points. Craig Sword had nine points for the Bulldogs on 4-of-10 shooting.

MSU center Gavin Ware had just four points and took just three shots on the night.

"We were just taking quick shots and not looking inside to Gavin," said Thomas. "We were taking quick shots and not looking inside like we should have."

MSU will now take to the road and travel to Tennessee Saturday to begin a two-game road swing. Ray is now hoping his guys regain that competitive fire among other things.

"I am not sure if it is the youth or that we haven't had success before," said Ray. "We won three games (in a row) and I always say press clippings is like poison. The poison can't hurt you unless you drink it. Those guys started seeming themselves in the media and were getting satisfied at where we were. We can never be that way. We can never be satisfied."

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