College basketball: Tide puts hammer to Mississippi State
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Jan 15, 2014 | 1729 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Trevor Releford (12) collides with Mississippi State's Tyson Cunningham (24) as he takes the ball to the basket. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter)
Alabama's Trevor Releford (12) collides with Mississippi State's Tyson Cunningham (24) as he takes the ball to the basket. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter)
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TUSCALOOSA -- If Alabama could play Mississippi State every night, the Crimson Tide would be a lock for the NCAA tournament.

The Tide scored its second-highest non-overtime point total of the season in its 80-61 victory over the Bulldogs on Wednesday in Coleman Coliseum.

The contest marked the third time the Tide has cracked 80 points this year.

“Our guys did a really good job of sharing the ball,” Tide coach Anthony Grant said. “We got out in transition. Our defense was able to create offense. … We’re the type of team that if we can get ourselves going, in terms of playing in transition, that really helps us. I thought we were able to do that tonight.”

After taking a 2-0 lead, it was all downhill for Mississippi State (11-5, 1-2 SEC). The Tide (8-8, 2-1) essentially led wire to wire and at one point pushed the margin to 23 points.

The game turned when Mississippi State cut the lead to four late in the second half after a few Tide turnovers. Grant immediately took a timeout and the Tide responded with a 9-0 spurt en route to a 38-26 lead at the break.

Senior point guard Trevor Releford hit nearly every shot he put. Releford finished with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 6 of 9 from behind the 3-point arc. This is the fifth game Releford has reached 20 points. He also passed out four assists and grabbed four rebounds.

“Trevor was tremendous tonight, not just with the points,” Grant said. “I thought he really led our team with the way that he played tonight.”

Freshman Shannon Hale was second on the team with 12 points. Retin Obasohan added 11 points, while Rodney Cooper put in 10 off the bench.

“It was good to see multiple guys step up,” Grant said. “Our guys were out there having fun. In the second half, you could see the ball moving. We had 17 assists. It’s great to see the ball go in. These guys had some success and it’s something to build off of.”

The Tide’s hot shooting kept the crowd of 10,112 energized all night.

“It is definitely fun when you execute as a team and you are doing everything right,” Releford said. “Coach Grant preaches that every day. As a team, we just have to continue to play every game like that and not fall off the next game. We have to continue to play as a team at Missouri on Saturday.”

On the season, Alabama is 8-2 at home, but 0-6 away from Coleman Coliseum. Grant said it’s all about getting more consistency on the road.

“It’s a matter of taking the lessons that we’ve learned from this season -- approaching every single game with the same mentality whether it’s on the road or at home,” Grant said.

Alabama will play at Missouri on Saturday. The Tide returns home Jan. 23 to host Florida.

Marq Burnett covers Alabama for The Anniston Star. He can be reached at mburnett@annistonstar.com. Twitter: @Marq_Burnett.
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