Alabama Athletics
Alabama had to hold on against Mississippi State.

The 3-pointer: What we learned from Alabama basketball’s win over Mississippi State

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball needed all 40 minutes to put away the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday night.

After building a 20-point lead, Alabama watched it all slip away and had to hang on for a 68-62 victory inside Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama was without star freshman Collin Sexton (abdominal) for the second consecutive game.

Offense needed

Alabama missed Collin Sexton’s offensive punch against the Bulldogs. Only two Crimson Tide players — Braxton Key and Daniel Giddens — were able to score in double figures Saturday night.

Luckily for Alabama that Mississippi State dug a big hole to start, and the Crimson Tide was able to hang on.

Braxton Key finding his confidence

The moment the 3-pointer dropped, Braxton Key threw up his hands as if to say “about time.” Key has struggled offensively since returning from his knee injury, but he appeared to return to form Saturday night.

Key surpassed the double-digit mark for the first time this season, scoring 16 points in 28 minutes. Key made some gutsy plays throughout the contest, including a layup with one minute remaining that proved to be the difference.

Having Key play well is paramount for Alabama, especially with Collin Sexton out but also for when he returns. Sexton, Key and John Petty could give Alabama a nice scoring punch from the perimeter.

Near meltdown

A win is a win, but Alabama basketball did everything in its power to lose this game. The Crimson Tide led by as many as 20 points and looked ready to cruise to victory. Sloppy play and scoring droughts along with hot shooting from Mississippi State allowed the Bulldogs to get back into the game.

It’ll be interesting to see how Avery Johnson evaluates this one. On one hand, you’re happy with the victory, but Johnson can’t be pleased with how his team played down the stretch. That will get you beat against good teams.

Up next for Alabama basketball

Alabama will play its lone road contest in the current five-game stretch when it travels to face the Ole Miss Rebels on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on the SEC Network.