Sears and Miller shine, No. 8 Alabama defeats No. 21 Mississippi State, 78-67 

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

What happens in Stark Vegas, stays in Stark Vegas. 

On Wednesday night, No. 8 Alabama defeated No. 21 Mississippi State 78-67 behind a pair of blistering performances from Mark Sears and Brandon Miller.  

Sears, a transfer from Ohio, scored 20 points on 5-for-11 shooting — nailing 4-of-8 shots from behind the arc and going 6-for-6 at the line. 

Miller, a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA draft, kept up with his season average to date — scoring 19 points on an efficient 7-for-15 performance from the field. The Antioch, Tennessee native hit 5 of his 10 shots from downtown and grabbed 11 rebounds en-route to a double-double. 

“Proud of the team,” Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats said. “Road wins are not easy to get in this league, as evidenced by the other games tonight. Some really teams went on the road and couldn’t get a win. We went on the road against a top-25 team and were able to come out with a pretty convincing win. I think it speaks to what our guys were able to do, especially on the defensive end tonight.” 

Leading the charge defensively were forwards Nick Pringle and Noah Clowney, who helped stymie the Bulldogs’ prolific frontcourt of Tolu Smith, D.J. Jeffries and Cameron Smith. While the two newcomers performed at a high level in Starkville, the fourth-year head coach knows there’s room for improvement.  

“We’re gonna have to continue to work with our post guys,” Oats said. “And some of the fouls weren’t – Charles, tough call late on a verticality clip there. That was a tough one. That wasn’t necessarily guarding Tolu. He helped on somebody else. So we’ve gotta figure out a way to keep our bigs out of foul trouble with Tshiebwe coming up because he’s obviously a load.” 

Making his first appearance of the season for Alabama was Dominick Welch, who missed the first 12 games of the season with a persistent calf issue. The 6-foot-6  guard didn’t score, shooting 0-for-2 from the field, but made his presence felt elsewhere.  

“I thought his defense was great,” Oats said. “Obviously, he’s a little rusty and got some threes. He’s going to make threes. He’s a really good shooter. He’s only practiced one day. Yesterday was the first day he’s practiced in a month and a half or whatever. We assumed he was gonna be a little rusty on offense, but I was glad I was able to get him nine minutes. We will try to increase his minutes as he gets more comfortable. But I thought defensively, he gave us some really good minutes.” 

Now standing at 11-2 (1-0), Alabama will set their sights on a home matchup with Kermit Davis’ Ole Miss Rebels, who sputtered throughout non-conference play. 

Tipoff for No. 8 Alabama and Ole Miss at Coleman Coliseum is set for Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. CT on SEC Network.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]