Quinerly, No. 2 Alabama hold on to beat MSU, 66-63
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jahvon Quinerly scored 14 points and No. 2 Alabama rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Mississippi State 66-63 on Wednesday night.
The Crimson Tide (18-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) had to climb out of a hole and then hold on two days after reaching the program’s highest ranking since rising to No. 1 in the 2002-03 season. The result was a ninth straight win and the first real scare during that stretch.
The Bulldogs (12-8, 1-7) had one last chance to tie but Noah Gurley blocked Shakeel Moore’s 3-point attempt in the final seconds. They had also had two potential tying shots at the end of a 61-59 loss to Florida over the weekend.
Quinerly had four assists for the Tide and scored nine in the second half. Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney both scored 13, and Clowney had eight rebounds.
Clowney made two free throws and Quinerly went 1 of 2 in the final minutes.
Tolu Smith led Mississippi State with 15 points and seven rebounds. Dashawn Davis added 14.
It was Alabama’s first home game since the Jan. 15 arrest of reserve forward Darius Miles on a capital murder charge.
The Tide trailed by as many as 11 in the first half. Alabama didn’t take its first lead until going up 48-46 on Rylan Griffen’s 3-pointer with 9:19 left. It came after Miller took a charge on the other end.
The Bulldogs’ Davis was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three foul shots for a team that started 1 of 5 from the line.
Then Quinerly sparked Alabama with two straight assists to Clowney for an alley oop and a layup. He hit a jump shot and two free throws and then Mark Sears made a layup for a 63-55 lead with 3:30 left.
The Bulldogs cut it to 66-63 on Smith’s basket with 49 seconds remaining and stayed alive after Sears’ missed 3.
Smith had scored just five points and gone 3 of 15 from the free throw line in the last meeting, a 78-67 Alabama win in the teams’ SEC opener on Dec. 28.
Alabama cut this one to 36-29 at halftime on Dominick Welch’s 3-pointer at the buzzer, the second for the St. Bonaventure transfer brought in largely for his shooting. Mississippi State briefly pushed its back to double digits early in the second half.
Mississippi State: Flirted with beating its highest ranked opponent since upending No. 1 Kentucky in the 1996 SEC tournament, 84-73. Instead, the Bulldogs have lost nine straight against Top 25 teams since beating No. 24 Alabama last season.
Alabama: The Tide finally cooled off a bit after becoming just the third team in the last 50 years to win its first seven SEC games by double digits, but found a way to win. Making 19 of 22 free throws (86%) certainly helped.
UP NEXT Mississippi State hosts No. 11 TCU on Saturday in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Alabama visits Oklahoma on Saturday in another SEC-Big 12 matchup.
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