TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA (TICKER) —Erwin Dudley and Mo Williams made all the plays in overtime for No. 10 Alabama.
Dudley and Williams combined for 10 points in the extra session as the Crimson Tide extended their home winning streak to 28 games with a 68-62 victory over No. 13 Mississippi State in a rematch of last season’s Southeastern Conference title game.
Dudley converted a three-point play 15 seconds into the extra session to give Alabama (12-2, 2-1 SEC West) the lead for good at 58-55. Williams nailed a tough jumper for a 63-56 advantage with 2:07 to go.
Timmy Bowers nailed a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left to pull Mississippi State (10-4, 0-3) within 63-61. Williams answered with a 3-pointer 33 seconds later with the shot clock running down for a five-point cushion.
“Some players, their ticker is just a little different and there is a competitive nature and he (Williams) has that,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. “He’s such a tough competitor.”
Williams shook off a scoreless first half to finish with 11 points despite 4-of-16 shooting while being defended by the Bulldogs’ Derrick Zimmerman.
“I had been shooting the ball well all game,” Williams insisted. “All my shots were good shots. I did not get a feel for the game, but I stayed in the game mentally.”
Alabama trailed by as many by 17 points in the first half but used an 11-0 run to take a 53-46 advantage on Antoine Pettway’s 3-pointer with 6:56 left in regulation. The Bulldogs stormed back with nine straight points for a 55-53 lead on Bowers’ layup with nine seconds left.
After a timeout by Alabama, Williams pushed the ball upcourt and found Pettway open on the wing. Pettway went uncontested to the basket for a layup with one second left to force the extra session.
“We had nine seconds left, we’re down two, he got the ball up the floor and he saw kind of a double-team coming at him, so he found Antoine,” Gottfried said. “Antoine made a great play taking that ball to the basket, as opposed to shooting a 3-point shot.”
“They made plays,” Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. “We still had a chance to win with nine seconds, but we allowed them to drive the length of the court and make a layup. But I’m not going to make excuses.”
The Bulldogs’ Mario Austin, an Alabama native, scored just two of his eight points after halftime. Austin, who entered averaging 19.7 points per game, was the subject of a heated recruiting war between the schools.
Zimmerman led Mississippi State with 15 points and Ontario Harper netted 12 points. Bowers chipped in with 10 points and Michal Ignerski scored all eight points in the first half.
“Everybody knows that Mario can shoot the basketball,” Bowers said. “We have to get some other people hitting shots.”
Dudley, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, took full advantage of his matchup with Austin by finishing with 23 points and eight rebounds. He helped limit Austin to two boards.
Mississippi State never trailed in the first half and took a 36-19 lead on Marcus Campbell’s dunk with less than three minutes to go. The Crimson Tide closed the half with five points to get within 12 and got a rousing halftime speech from Williams, normally a quiet leader.
“Mo showed some maturity and leadership and unloaded on them a little bit and that was good,” Gottfried added.
“We stuck together,” Alabama forward Emmett Thomas said. “Mo talked about the 27-game win streak at home at halftime. I think that lifted everybody up.”
Austin’s basket made it 40-29 early in the second half before Alabama (12-2, 2-1) came alive with a 13-4 run to pull within 44-42 on Williams’ 3-pointer with over 12 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs’ Branden Vincent scored inside to temporarily stop the bleeding.
Dudley responded with a pair of layups that triggered a decisive 11-0 tear. Pettway scored five points in the spurt, including a 3-pointer with 6:56 to go for a 53-46 advantage.
Mississippi State committed 15 of its 17 turnovers after halftime and made just 3-of-19 shots from beyond the arc. Bowers and Zimmerman combined for eight turnovers.
“We didn’t finish the game, point blank,” Zimmerman said. “We dominated the first half, but I guess some people around here think it’s only a game of one half.”
The Bulldogs are 0-3 in conference play for the first time since losing their first four SEC games in 1986.