TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — No. 18 Alabama faced down a challenge and kept its winning streak alive, if not the Crimson Tide’s string of blowouts.
Herbert Jones had 17 points and seven assists to help Alabama win its ninth straight game with an 81-73 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night. This one wasn’t decided until the last minute for a team that had won its past three games by an average of 27 points.
“It’s actually good to play some close games,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We had been hitting shots at a pretty high clip and blowing teams out so it’s good to have to execute some late-game stuff.”
The Tide (13-3, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) has won eight consecutive SEC games for the first time since starting league play 8-0 in the 1986-87 season.
Cameron Matthews stole a long inbounds pass and made a layup with 58 seconds left for Mississippi State before Petty’s back-breaking 3.
“I thought our guys really played hard and really played tough,” Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said. “We battled and went after every 50-50 ball with all our might. I think there were a lot of positives today even though we lost the game.”
The home team has won the last eight meetings.
The Tide’s nine-game winning streak marks its longest since opening the 2002-03 season 9-0. That team eventually reached the program’s only No. 1 ranking.
This edition successfully withstood its first late-game challenge since Auburn two weeks earlier.
“It just teaches us to stay together regardless of the scoreboard and learn how to win close games because that’s what’s going to matter most toward the end of the season,” Jones said.