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Mississippi State Can’t Complete the Comeback, Fall to Alabama 83-79

For the first 30 minutes Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, it looked like Mississippi State was heading towards another double digit loss on the road. The final 10 minutes turned into a furious rally, but it was too little too late, as the Bulldogs couldn’t get over a 14 point deficit, falling to Alabama 83-79. State cut the lead to two, and had the ball down 3 with under 30 seconds to play, but an open look from Tyson Carter was denied by an incredible block from Bama’s Kira Lewis. State had to resort to fouling Bama, and the Crimson Tide made enough of their free throws in the closing seconds to seal a win.

THE PLAYER

Reggie Perry struggled in his last road game at Kentucky, but the true freshman looked the part of seasoned veteran at Coleman Coliseum Tuesday. Perry scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help spark the Bulldog comeback, hitting both near the bucket and away with a couple of long jumpers. Perry has shown the immense potential that made him a five star player coming out of high school, and with the Bulldogs’ frontcourt struggling recently, it might be time to consider a move into the starting lineup for Perry.

WHERE’S THE DEFENSE?

That stat says it all for this game, as Alabama only scored seven points total from jump shots. Bama was an awful 1-15 from behind the three point line, and not much better from the charity stripe at 22-36. Where the Crimson Tide killed Mississippi State was going inside nearly every possession, many of them coming from uncontested dunks. The Tide got to the rim with such frequency, my fellow beat writer Tyler Horka and I had a tough time figuring out which highlight the Alabama jumbotron would show for their Dunk of the Game promotion. Aric Holman and Abdul Ado simply did not provide the interior strength you’d expect from them at this point in their careers, and MSU’s guards were unable to stop a lot of dribble penetration. On a night where quite a bit went wrong for the Bulldogs, their inability to defend in the paint was the biggest problem.

NICK WEATHERSPOON UPDATE

I didn’t have the best angle to see what happened to Nick Weatherspoon as he went down after a dunk attempt, but I did see him immediately grab his knee. Speaking with Ben Howland in the postgame press conference, he revealed the medical staff on hand at Coleman Coliseum did not feel it was an ACL injury, but possibly a “sublex” of the patella. Weatherspoon will receive an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage. MSU will miss him immensely should it be an extended absence, and with a tough stretch of games in the next 10 days, it could be the difference between some key wins and losses.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Mississippi State already dropped a home decision to Ole Miss two weekends ago, the Bulldogs will look to replay the favor when they travel to the Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. State has never won in the Rebels’ new home, and will look to find a victory to even their SEC record up for the third weekend in a row. Tipoff is set for 2:30 in Oxford.

We’ll have plenty to talk about on the Thunder & Lightning Podcast, and on SportsTalk Mississippi later today.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics

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