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January 15, 2014

Bulldogs Don't Execute in 19-point Loss

After a great first half against Kentucky last week and a big win at home against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs were flat on Wednesday night as they lost to Alabama (8-8, 2-1) 80-61. A late first-half run proved to be enough as the Bulldogs (11-5, 1-2) never had the game within single digits in the second half.

"I thought we weren't very good at our shoot around today," Ray said. "I thought we were a little loose and wasn't tied down so I think that carried over to the game. We started off doing exactly what we can't do which was take jump shots and not attack the rim. I think that gave them some momentum. If we're not attacking the paint offensively it leads to bad things."

MSU got the game started with a nice defensive stand as Fred Thomas blocked a Crimson Tide shot late in the shot clock and Craig Sword would get the drive and layup on the next possession for the early lead. The Bulldogs relinquished that lead quickly as the offense struggled to find points and trailed early, 11-5.

MSU slowly creeped back in and after a steal, Thomas nailed a three pointer to get the Bulldogs to 15-14 but Alabama pushed that lead right back out to six with 7:47 left in the half. MSU would again get the lead down to three, but the Tide pushed out their largest lead of the night to 10 with 5:20 left after a three pointer.

Out of the timeout the Bulldogs would respond again and get six-straight points to close the lead back down to 29-25 with 3:50 remaining. The poor offense would come back to haunt them to finish the half and they trailed by as much as they had all day at the break, 38-26.

"I thought we got to the rim and had an opportunity to finish at the rim we just didn't finish," Ray said of the first half. "I thought we got to the rim a couple of times and just didn't make a good decision. I don't know if that's us not being tied in or our ability not to finish. We're not a great basketball team at the rim."

It was a pretty sloppy half for the Bulldogs across the board and ended terribly for them after they cut the lead to four. MSU shot just 41% in the first half and allowed the Tide to shoot 48%. MSU was also outrebounded 19-14 and was blocked five times.

MSU did nothing to help their cause early on the second half struggling to find anything on offense and they saw their deficit grow to 18 at 53-35 with 12:19 left in the game. The Bulldogs would never close the lead and after trailing by 20, brought in freshman wide receiver from the football team, De'Runnya Wilson for minutes.

It was questionably MSU's worst performance of the year defensively and offensively as they gave up 53% shooting and 10 threes to the Tide. The Bulldogs managed 44% from the field themselves and were outrebounded 33-28.

"We've got to find a way for our guys to learn how to deal with some success," Ray said. "We haven't had a lot of success here but when we do, our guys get so wrapped up in that success and don't carry it over to the next game. We don't know who we are as a team and who we are as people."

State was led in scoring by Gavin Ware who quietly scored 18 points and corralled six rebounds. MSU also had double figures scoring from Sword with 12 points and four rebounds.

MSU now turns to back-to-back home games starting this Saturday against Texas A&M at 12:30 p.m.

Mississippi State NEWS


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