Mississippi State's bench reacts to a three during an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)
AP Photo
February 20, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Mississippi State is aiming to beat good teams, not just possibly spoil their NCAA Tournament hopes.

Either way, the Bulldogs dealt streaking Alabama a 67-61 defeat on Saturday for their second Southeastern Conference upset of the week, following a dramatic win over Vanderbilt.

''It's not at all the spoiler role but what we use is the fact that these teams we're playing are fighting to get in the NCAA Tournament so we know we'll get their best effort,'' Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. ''So the motivation is to understand what a high level we're going to have to play at to be able to compete against these teams.

''These last two wins are obviously back-to-back the best wins of the year against very good teams that I still think will end up in the NCAA Tournament.''

Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 15 points Saturday and played a pivotal role in both of the week's wins. The Bulldogs (12-14, 5-9 SEC) fought off a second-half rally by the Crimson Tide (16-10, 7-7), which had won five straight league games to shoulder its way squarely into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Tide coach Avery Johnson noted that even defending NBA champion Golden State fell by 32 points to Portland Friday night, and knows his own team's still working its way up.

''I didn't like the energy in the locker room before the game,'' Johnson said. ''We had a different type of energy before LSU and Florida.''

Weatherspoon, who had 24 points and the game-winning 3-pointer in Tuesday night's victory over Vanderbilt, made 3 of 4 from long range to help end that hot streak.

Craig Sword scored 13 points and Gavin Ware fought through foul trouble for 12. Guard I.J. Ready had 10 points while subbing for an injured Malik Newman and made a decisive jump shot with 22 seconds left.

''I just knew the game was over after that,'' said Sword, a Montgomery, Alabama native.

Retin Obasohan and Shannon Hale scored 22 points apiece for the Tide, while their teammates produced a combined 17.

Mississippi State had rallied from 17 down against Vanderbilt but was in control much of the way in this one.

Hale and Obasohan combined for nine straight Alabama points to lead the Tide back from a seven-point deficit over the final seven minutes.

Hale had a basket and foul shot and then Obasohan hit 1 of 2 free throws after getting a do-over thanks to a lane violation. Then Obasohan passed to a cutting Jimmie Taylor for a basket to pull Alabama to within 58-57 with 4:23 to play.

Playing with four fouls, Ware answered with two straight baskets and Ready added the jumper to keep Alabama at bay.

''They made big shots at bigtime moments,'' Obasohan said. ''It's a game of runs. Every time we'd get on a run, they would answer.''

Alabama was 11 of 21 from the line, 6 of 13 in the second half. The Tide also missed nine of its 11 3-point attempts after halftime.

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TIP INS

Mississippi St: Snapped a six-game losing streak to Alabama and a six-game skid at Coleman Coliseum. ... The Bulldogs made 26 of 53 shots (49 percent).

Alabama: Was seeking its first six-game SEC win streak since 2004-05. ... Starting forward Riley Norris didn't attempt a shot or score.

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

Mississippi State's Ware and Alabama coach Avery Johnson each drew technical fouls protesting calls during a 15-second span early in the second half. For Ware, he drew his third and fourth fouls with 17:46 left after his emotional reaction to a foul call.

''I deserved it,'' Johnson said.

NEWMAN OUT

Mississippi State played without sharp-shooting freshman Malik Newman, who was out with a back injury. Ready took his place and had three assists and a pair of steals with no turnovers.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State visits Texas A&M Wednesday night.

Alabama visits No. 14 Kentucky Tuesday night.

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