NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Alabama men's basketball team, ranked No. 6 in the nation and the top seed in the SEC Tournament, jumped out to a fast start and used suffocating defense to overwhelm Mississippi State, 85-48, in Friday's SEC Quarterfinal contest in Bridgestone Arena.
The 37-point win set a program record for margin of victory in a tournament game.
With the victory, the top-seeded Crimson Tide (22-6) advanced to Saturday's semifinal contest where it will face No. 4 seed Tennessee (18-7), which advanced with a win over Florida. The Tide and Volunteers will play Saturday at noon CT on ESPN.
Guard Jahvon Quinerly led the Crimson Tide with 14 points, while Jaden Shackelford added 13 and Juwan Gary had 11. SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year Herbert Jones played just under 17 minutes and finished with eight points, seven rebounds, seven assists with zero turnovers to go along three steals and two blocked shots.
Coach Nate Oats Postgame Comments
"I think we answered the questions about whether our guys can come out ready to play (an early) tip. I told them whatever they did do to get ready for that one, try to repeat it (Saturday). It was nice to get the win. The fact Mississippi State was able to beat Kentucky kind of made our guys wake up. Plus, they played us really tough two games in a row. I thought it was close all the way to the end both times we played these guys.
"I think our guys were locked in. Really goes to the senior leadership making sure the guys are locked in. I thought everybody gave us great minutes. Offensively, the turnovers were down, we only had nine turnovers, assists were up, the ball was moving. We made shots, but we didn't shoot it unbelievably well. I thought we took care of the ball and our energy was good. They ended up outrebounding us by eight. Defensively, I thought we were really locked in for a good part of that game."
- The Tide's 37-point victory was its largest in an SEC Tournament game in program history, while Alabama's 28-point halftime lead the most in any SEC Tournament game since 1979.
- Alabama shot 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the field and hit 13-of-36 (36.1 percent) of its three-point attempts while limiting the Bulldogs to 29 percent (18-of-62) from the field and only 1-of-19 from three-point range.
- The Tide defense forced Mississippi State into 18 turnovers and committed only nine to result in a big 30-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Alabama's bench scored 47 points with 11 total players scored in the game while the Bulldogs reserves finished with just five points.
- Alabama matched a school record by accounting for its 17th game of scoring 80 or more points this season, and improved to 17-0 this season when accomplishing the feat.
Mississippi State held an early 4-3 early lead before a Petty three-pointer jumpstarted the Tide scoring 15 consecutive points, highlighted by an emphatic block and dunk by Juwan Gary to pull ahead 18-7 at the 12:11 mark.
After the Bulldogs cut it to 18-10, the Tide went on a big 21-2 run over the next 7:09 to take a 39-12 lead with just 4:06 left in the first half. From there, the Tide played even and would take a 47-19 lead into the locker room, with the 28-point halftime-lead being the largest in any SEC Tournament game since 1979.
Alabama shot 50 percent (18-of-36) and knocked down 8-of-24 from the three-point line with five different players making a three in the first half The Tide defense forced the Bulldogs into 14 turnovers that led to 20 fast break points while Alabama turned the ball over just four times
Alabama continued its first half momentum with a 10-2 run to take its largest lead of the game at 57-21 with 16:40 to go in the second half.
Mississippi State added an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 28 points with 13:15 left, but the Tide responded with a 10-2 run to lead 69-33 with 10:42 remaining.
With a big lead, Alabama's reserves saw a lot of action in the second half and closed out Mississippi State 85-48 in the final five minutes to advance to the semifinal contest. All 15 players saw at least three minutes of action with Quinerly leading all players with just 22 minutes.
Alabama continued its hot shooting in the second half with 46.7 percent from the field and 5-of-12 from beyond the arc and held the Bulldogs to just 28.6 percent from the field and 1-of-16 from three-point range.
The Tide will take on the winner of Florida/Tennessee Saturday at 12 noon CT inside Bridgestone Arena. The game can be seen on ESPN with the winner advancing to the SEC Championship