Bama falls to Mississippi State

STARKVILLE, MISS. - Senior guard Mikhail Torrance scored a game-high 23 points but the University of Alabama men's basketball team was unable to overcome an 11-point second-half deficit in a 74-66 loss at Mississippi State Wednesday night.

With the loss Alabama moves to 14-13 (4-9 SEC), while Mississippi State improves to 20-8 (8-5 SEC) and first place in the SEC Western Division.

"We had our moments," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "We didn't handle situations the way we need to, but I thought overall the guys competed. It was a two-point game with three-and-a-half minutes to play."

Torrance was nearly perfect in the first half, not missing a shot until the 1:20 mark.  The senior guard accounted for 12 of the Tide's first 14 points and finished the half with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

Despite the steady shooting from Torrance in the first half, the Bulldogs held a 31-29 advantage at the break thanks to Jarvis Varnado's 10 first-half points.

Mississippi State lead by as many as 11 on two separate occasions in the second half, but a 10-2 Alabama run cut the lead down to two points, 59-61, with 3:54 remaining.  The Bulldogs responded by connecting on three-straight three-pointers to extend the lead to eight at 67-59 and dash any hopes of an Alabama comeback.

Junior guard Senario Hillman hit double-figures for the fourth consecutive game with 13 points to go along with three steals and two assists, while sophomore forward JaMychal Green added 12 points and grabbed five rebounds to round out the trio of Tide players to score double-digits.

Sophomore guard Dee Bost paced the Bulldogs with 22 points in addition to three steals and three assists.  Senior forward Jarvis Varnado turned in 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks.

Varnado's eighth block of the night was the 536th of his career, moving him ahead of ULM's Wojciech Mydra and into first place on the NCAA's career blocks list.

"He was very effective, physical, and made it difficult for us to get conversions inside," Grant said of Varnado's record-setting performance.

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum to face Mississippi Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.