TUSCALOOSA, Ala. • Two games into SEC play and Mississippi State finds itself in the same 0-2 spot it did a season ago.
Last year, the Bulldogs were able to dig their way out of that hole and find a way into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed. That will be much more difficult to do after falling at Alabama 90-69 on Wednesday night.
“We’ve been here before, last year,” said MSU guard Nick Weatherspooon. “We started off the same way. Some of us guys have been here before so we’ve just got to try to go beat LSU on Saturday and try to get better every day.”
MSU had trouble containing the Crimson Tide inside and out. Alabama (8-6, 1-1 SEC) knocked down 10 of 24 shots from the perimeter and shot 49.1 percent overall for the game.
“The biggest thing for us is not being able to stay in front of them,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “Even 1-on-1, they were able to beat us off the bounce. We’ve got to do a better job staying in front of the ball.”
John Petty Jr. led the Tide with 18 points followed by Kira Lewis with 17, Galin Smith and James “Beetle” Bolden with 11 and Jaden Shackelford with 10.
The Bulldogs held a 28-27 lead late in the first half only to see Alabama close on a 15-6 run over the final 4:08. The Crimson Tide pushed that lead up to 15 less than three minutes into the second half after a sluggish start by State.
“We were down by eight at the half and come out to start the second half and have two turnovers on our first two possessions,” Howland said. “We only had 11 for the game but those two were big and momentum killers.”
Mississippi State (9-5) closed the deficit to six in the second half and could draw no closer, losing for the 10th time in its last 11 trips to Coleman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs shot 37.7 percent as a team and were led by Weatherspoon with a game-high 20 points. Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II provided 14 points apiece. Woodard narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
Weatherspoon, Perry and Iverson Molinar all fouled out and Abdul Ado was also in foul trouble early, limiting him to only eight minutes in the first half.
MSU continues its road trek at LSU on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.