Key to victory: Sophomore hits stride, Alabama outlasts Mississippi State
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Braxton Key threw both his hands up and smiled when his 3-point shot went in with 6:47 left in the first half.
It was like he knew how his night would finish.
Not only did Alabama defeat Mississippi State 68-62 to earn the Crimson Tide’s fourth consecutive victory, but Key finished as one of the team’s top contributors.
In fact, it was the sophomore that gave Alabama a slim lead with just over a minute to play.
Key missed Alabama’s first 10 games due to injury and the eight games he played this season before Saturday night didn’t accurately reflect the player that considered making the jump to the NBA at the end of his freshman season.
Against the Bulldogs, Key seemed to return to form as he scored a season-high 16 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded four assists.
Tide's top performers
Daniel Giddens scored the first points for Alabama in the game on Saturday night and his name continued to get called the rest of the night. He finished with a career-high 13 points.
It wasn’t the hot-shooting performance John Petty has made his name with early in his college career, but the freshman finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists.
Dazon Ingram did just about everything but score a ton of points as he finished with a team-high eight rebounds and a game-high six assists. He also knocked in four crucial free throws in the final three minutes.
It was over when
With a 19-point lead at the break against a Mississippi State team that had already turned the ball over 10 times, the victory seemed guaranteed.
With 6:47 left in the game, Mississippi State tied it up for the first time. It remained close after that. Key and Petty each knocked down baskets on consecutive offensive possessions to give Alabama a 4-point lead with 36 seconds to play.
Mississippi State’s Aric Holman grabbed an offensive board on the next possession and put the ball through the net to make it a one-possession game with 22 seconds left.
Ingram then went to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws then Herb Jones dunked the ball to put the game firmly out of the Bulldogs’ reach.
Alabama will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on Ole Miss (10-9, 3-4 SEC) at 7:30 on Tuesday night. While the road hasn’t been kind to Ole Miss this season (0-5), the Rebels have won their last five home games including games against Florida and South Carolina.