Alabama’s NCAA tournament chances get slimmer each time they step foot on the court. Unable to finish in February has proven to be the Crimson Tide’s kryptonite.
In each of the past four seasons, Alabama hasn’t earned more than two wins to finish its last five games. Until that changes, nothing changes. The expectations remain the same and the NCAA tournament isn’t one of them.
The Crimson Tide has a better chance of blowing a double-digit second-half lead then they do making the round of 64.
Alabama (15-13, 7-8 SEC), without junior guard John Petty Jr. who left the game with a right elbow injury, fell to Mississippi State 80-73.
“That was a tough loss,” head coach Nate Oats said in a press release. “(Mississippi State) is playing hard and playing well.”
With two minutes remaining, Alabama missed multiple makeable shots; junior forward Herbert Jones fouled out and junior forward Alex Reece continued to be a problem.
“We missed some layups, free throws and some wide-open threes we needed to knock down, especially with Petty not being out there on the floor,” Oats said.
Reece finished just 2-of-9 from the field, with four of Alabama’s 10 turnovers.
Mississippi State’s Tyson Carter scored six straight points, two layups and a pair of free throws to put the final touches on the game.
Ahead of its matchup with the Bulldogs, Alabama knew starting forward Reggie Perry would be tough to contain.
It proved to be right.
Perry led Mississippi State, scoring a team-high 21 points and recording a team-high 12 rebounds. Forward Abdul Ado added eight points, blocking two shots.
Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. led all scorers with 29 points–16 in the second half–and seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford scored 17 points–12 in the second half–with five rebounds.
“I thought Beetle played hard and Kira had a great game,” Oats said. “It just wasn’t quite enough to beat a team as talented as Mississippi State in their gym tonight.”
Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday to face South Carolina (16-11, 8-6 SEC).
Alabama is in a position needing to win out in the regular season and make an SEC tournament run to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Tipoff with the Gamecocks is slated for 8:30 p.m.