STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Jaden Shackleford scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half, and No. 6 Alabama beat Mississippi State 64-59 on Saturday night to clinch its first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship since 2002.
The Crimson Tide (19-6, 14-2) led by double digits for much of the game before the Bulldogs (13-12, 7-9) closed to 56-53 on Iverson Molinar’s layup with 4:17 left. Mississippi State had a chance to draw even closer over the next three minutes, but Alabama came up with a couple big stops and James Rojas drained a 3 from the right corner to make it 59-53 with 43 seconds left.
D.J. Stewart Jr. made four free throws for MSU in the final minute, but Alabama went 5 for 6 at the line down the stretch, including two successful attempts for John Petty Jr. with 11.9 left.
Jahvon Quinerly had 19 points for Alabama, including 15 before halftime that helped the Tide snap out of a cold shooting start. Herbert Jones grabbed 14 rebounds as Alabama enjoyed a 45-40 rebounding advantage.
Stewart scored 15 points for the Bulldogs, who had won their past two games. Deivon Smith had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Molinar scored 11 points.
Alabama: Quinerly’s scoring provided a huge boost for the Crimson Tide, who started 3 of 16 from the field and were 1 of 10 during one first-half stretch. They went cold for a while in the second but came up with several key offensive rebounds to maintain possession and run down the clock before Rojas’ big 3.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had plenty of good looks in the first half that just didn’t fall. The second half began much better and they were able to get close, but couldn’t get that one key basket or stop Alabama on the glass.
Alabama hosts rival Auburn on Tuesday night, seeking a season sweep.
Mississippi State visits Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
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