Mississippi St. beats Alabama 83-74

Published 7:08 am Thursday, January 15, 2009

STARKVILLE, Miss. — In a game that was as much a competition of styles as it was rivals, Mississippi State’s speed and accuracy triumphed.

The Bulldogs defeated Alabama 83-74 Wednesday night behind a career-high 17 points from guard Phil Turner.

MSU’s (12-5, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) four-guard lineup created mismatches for Turner on the offensive end as the Bulldogs beat the Crimson Tide (11-5, 1-1) for the fifth straight time.

Turner hit 6 of 9 3-pointers and had 15 of his points in the second half.

“That’s the advantage we have playing small,” Turner said. “I saw some open shots and just stepped up.”

Alabama led 36-33 at halftime, but the Bulldogs opened the second half on a 13-5 run and the Tide never regained the lead. MSU led by as many as 13.

“They stretched us out so far when they made those threes that then it was a little harder to help inside,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. “They played a much better second half than we did.”

MSU shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half (16 of 24) to erase a three-point halftime deficit and win its 10th conference home-opener in 11 seasons.

The Bulldogs had 18 assists and were 11 of 24 from beyond the arc, marking their fourth straight game with at least 11 3-pointers. Alabama hit only 3 of 9 3-point shot attempts and had 13 turnovers.

“It comes down to ,’Who’s going to put their will on who?'” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Are we going to let them enforce their will on us and win with their big guys, or are we going to impose our will on them and make them guard our small guys? In the first half I thought they controlled the game, but in the second half I thought we controlled the tempo and that’s what made the difference.”

Dee Bost and Barry Stewart added 13 points each for the Bulldogs, while Jarvis Varnado chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th career double-double.

“In the first half I was settling for just jump shots,” Bost said. “In the second half, I just tried to find my teammates and they made the shots.”

MSU’s bench contributed 23 points and 13 rebounds.

“The bench is just playing with more confidence,” MSU foward Romero Osby said. “The starters are giving us a chance to just add on to what they are doing and we are taking advantage.”

Mikhail Torrance scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting to lead the Tide. Alonzo Gee added 15 points, Senario Hillman added 12, and Jamychal Green chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.