Mississippi St 68, UAB 52

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BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA (TICKER) —Mario Austin had another successful game in his home state.

Austin led three players in double figures with 13 points as No. 10 Mississippi State cruised to its 10th straight victory, a 68-52 triumph over Alabama-Birmingham.

Austin hails from York, Alabama, which is about 70 miles from Birmingham. On Monday, he scored 16 points in an 85-74 victory over South Alabama, some 150 miles from his home.

A three-point play and dunk by Austin gave Mississippi State (10-1) the lead for good at 19-14, triggering a huge run in the final eight minutes of the first half. The Bulldogs closed the half on a 24-7 tear, featuring eight points from reserve Winsome Frazier, for a 38-21 halftime advantage.

“Anytime you can go on the road and win, that’s a pretty win,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “We defended and rebounded in the first half and that is why we were able to get a big lead.”

Michal Ignerski scored 12 points and Frazier added 10 for Mississippi State, which has not lost since the season opener to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Bulldogs are 5-0 with Austin in the lineup.

Alabama-Birmingham (8-3) had a five-game winning streak snapped despite 15 points from Morris Finley. The Blazers shot just 37 percent (22-of-60).

“Mississippi State is a team that is playing well,” said UAB coach Mike Anderson, a former assistant at Arkansas. “I have played against this team when I was coaching at Arkansas and they didn’t have the depth that they have now.”

Finley, the reigning Conference USA Player of the Week, was shackled in the first half by the Bulldogs’ tremendous defense and had just two points. Mississippi State’s trapping, man-to-man defense has limited opponents to just under 57 points during the winning streak.

“To win on the road, you must defend and rebound and we were able to do that,” Stansbury said. “UAB is a good basketball team. We were able to survive their best shot.”

The Blazers never got closer than 15 points in the second half.

Austin and Ontario Harper each had seven rebounds as Mississippi State held a 43-28 edge on the glass. The Bulldogs shot 55 percent (31-of-56) and won despite 10 combined turnovers from the backcourt of Timmy Bowers and Derrick Zimmerman.

“We had them turn the ball over 23 times and yet we weren’t able to capitalize on their mistakes,” Anderson said. “I thought our guys played with a lot of heart.”

Besides Finley, no other Blazer reached double figures as Sidney Ball scored nine points. UAB was 2-of-17 from beyond the arc, including a 1-of-9 showing by Finley.

The Blazers still lead the all-time series, 4-2.

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