Alabama beats Mississippi State 75-43

DAVID BRANDT (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press
Alabama beats Mississippi State 75-43
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Mississippi State guard Craig Sword (32) shoots a basket over Alabama guard Trevor Lacey (5) in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Levi Randolph scored 18 points, Rodney Cooper added 17 and Alabama coasted to a 75-43 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday night.

Alabama (10-6, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) opened the second half with five consecutive 3-pointers - including the first three from Trevor Lacey - to push a 30-22 halftime lead into an insurmountable 45-22 advantage. It was part of a 21-0 run dating back to the first half.

The Crimson Tide made 8 of 13 shots (61.5 percent) from 3-point range and 31 of 58 (53.4 percent) from the field overall.

Nick Jacobs added 16 points and 11 rebounds while Lacey scored 11 points and had a team-high six assists.

Mississippi State (7-8, 2-1) had its three-game winning streak snapped. Fred Thomas led the Bulldogs with 10 points while Craig Sword added nine. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 35-23 and committed 21 turnovers.

Thomas broke out of a shooting slump with two early 3-pointers, but like the rest of the Bulldogs, he went cold in the second half as Alabama cruised to its second straight victory.

Alabama played without leading scorer Trevor Releford, who sat on the bench in uniform but missed the game because of a sprained ankle suffered in practice earlier this week. The 6-foot junior averages more than 16 points per game - including 20.5 points in two SEC games - and the Crimson Tide obviously missed him early in the game, with several empty possessions and poor decisions.

But the offense slowly found its way, and Alabama closed the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 30-22 halftime lead. Randolph led the Tide with 11 first-half points.

Then the floodgates opened early in the second half, with Lacey nailing three straight 3-pointers to give Alabama a 39-22 lead with 18:11 remaining.

Mississippi State coach Rick Ray called timeout to try and stop the momentum, but Alabama responded with two more 3-pointers by Cooper and Randolph to push the lead to 23 points.

It was a reality check for the Bulldogs, who started SEC play with two straight victories against South Carolina and Georgia. But they had no answer for Alabama's superior height and athleticism, struggling to rebound and handle the basketball.

Mississippi State shot just 16 of 45 (35.6 percent) from the field.


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