Bulldogs looking for upset of SEC-leading No. 6 Alabama

MSU trying for its third win in a row
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Mississippi State is looking for a third win in a row, but it'll take a pretty significant upset to do it. 

The Bulldogs welcome No. 6 Alabama to the Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday. The Southeastern-Conference-leading Crimson Tide will be looking to sweep the season series against MSU after Alabama defeated State 81-73 in Tuscaloosa earlier this season. MSU will have to worry about the same cast of Crimson Tide characters again today, including Jaden Shackelford (14.1 points per game), Herbert Jones (11.4 PPG), John Petty, Jr. (13 PPG) and Jahvon Quinerly (11.8 PPG)

As a team, the biggest threat Alabama poses is its three-point shooting. Alabama has lived from three-point territory and canned 10.9 triples per game, which not only is tops in the SEC, but is second nationally. The Crimson Tide has drained 10-plus 3-pointers in 16 of their 24 outings this season. Alabama will surely be looking to sink a few more long-distance shots Saturday as the Crimson Tide tried to lock down the SEC regular season championship.

See below for more information on Saturday's game including how you can follow along, as well as comments from Howland's pre-Alabama press conference. To watch Howland's full media session, see the video above.

  • What: No. 6 Alabama (18-6, 13-2) at Mississippi State (13-11, 7-8)
  • Where: Humphrey Coliseum – Starkville, Mississippi
  • When: 5 p.m. central on Saturday, February 27, 2021
  • TV/Video: SEC Network, Online via ESPN.com/ESPN App
  • Radio/Audio: Mississippi State Sports Radio Network (click here for full list of affiliates), online at Hailstate.com and the TuneIn radio app, and on XM Radio channel 192 and Ch. 963 

Comments from Ben Howland's 2-26-21 media session:

Question: As you get set to honor him as a senior on Saturday, what sticks out to you the most when you think of Abdul Ado’s time here at Mississippi State?

Ben Howland: “I just think about all the dedication, sacrifice and hard work that he’s put in to helping this program be successful. He’s about winning first and foremost, and he does all the things that often times don’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s been a great leader in terms of his work ethic, how he comes to work every day and plays incredibly hard and physical and tough.”

“He’s a great teammate. He’s always supportive of his team, and his teammates on and off the floor. He’s a great example of what you want in a student-athlete. He’s very self-sufficient academically, he’s already graduated from college. He really works hard on that side of his life. He’s just a really good person. I’m really blessed that he was a part of my life and a part of our program here the last five years.”

Q: What did you guys do the first game you played Alabama that worked and what do you expect tomorrow from them?

BH: “Well, they’re obviously a really good team – the best team in our league. Those two seniors, when you’re speaking about seniors, Herb[ert] Jones and [John] Petty [Jr.] have been great all year long. They’ve done a tremendous job.”

“They shoot the ball so well from the three. They have very good pieces. You look at [Jaden] Shackelford and [Jahvon] Quinerly. [Joshua] Primo is one of the best freshmen in our conference. The big [Jordan] Bruner is back, and he hit four 3s the other day at Arkansas. So, they’ve got a great blend of older players and younger players. Everybody can shoot it. It’s a big-time challenge.”

“It starts with transition defense. They push it so hard every time you get it. Every time you score or miss, it’s coming right downhill at you every single time. We’ve got to do a great job getting back in transition, getting our defense set and give ourselves a chance of trying to defend them.”

Q: Does your previous game at Alabama give you confidence heading into this one?

BH: “We played well enough to have a chance there down the stretch in Tuscaloosa, and that was a positive. I thought our team defense was pretty good. They still made a bunch of 3s, especially in the first half of that game. We’ve got to cut down on their open looks. Also, when they do miss shots because they take so many 3s, there’s a lot of long rebounds. So, you’ve got to do a great job blocking out away from the basket and try to take up that space. So, if there is a long carom, you’re able to run it down and get it for your team.”

Q: Your team has now shown resiliency with two wins after a tough stretch. Was there ever a point in those struggles that you thought maybe your team was in a bad place mentally?

BH: “I wouldn’t say a good place, but I would say they’ve never quit. They’ve never given up. They’ve stayed tough-minded to be able to bounce back, and that’s key. That comes from leadership within the team. We’ve sat and talked as a group and tried to get some things out on the table to see if we could help one another. I’m really proud of them because of their mental fortitude. When you’re going through tough times and tough stretches, to be able to continue to fight. You see sometimes teams that will just tuck tail and quit, and we’ve never been one of those teams. It’s benefited us because we came back last Saturday and got the best win of the year at Ole Miss against our rival. They’re a very good team this year, obviously. And then to turn around and beat South Carolina again this past Wednesday was great.

“I’ll be honest with you, the break we got from the weather, I think, was a helper for us too. I think having those couple days off was a silver lining in terms of letting our bodies heal from this incredible saga that goes on when you play so many games. You’re playing guys a lot of minutes like we do. D.J. [Stewart Jr.] is second in the league [for minutes]. Iverson [Molinar] is top 10 in the league and also Abdul [Ado] and Tolu [Smith in the top 15]. I thought those four guys in particular benefited both physically and mentally. That ended up being in some ways a blessing for us.”

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