Oats’ ejection electrifies No. 25 Alabama in win over Mississippi State

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Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (13) shoots a step-back jumper over Bulldogs guard Iverson Molinar (1) in the Crimson Tide’s 80-75 win Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians once said, “Players win games. Coaches lose them.”

On Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum, that quote came to fruition. The Battle of Highway 82 got chippy midway through the second half, and Alabama head coach Nate Oats was at the center of it.

Oats received two technical fouls in the span of 44 seconds and was tossed from the game with 8:34 to go. The Bulldogs led by 7 with under eight minutes to play. A rather still home crowd rose to its feet after Oats’ exit.

From there, No. 25 Alabama (17-9, 7-6) finished on a 23-11 run to take down the Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-11, 5-7) 80-75, winning their third straight SEC game.

“Our guys answered the bell,” Oats said. “I screwed up. I didn’t handle the referees as I should’ve. I thought there was a foul, and they didn’t call it. I got to be smarter. I got to do a better job. I thought their energy picked up, and they played hard.”

Guard Jahvon Quinerly was in complete control on the offensive end for the Crimson Tide. Quinerly finished the game with 21 points and eight assists. His pick-and-roll partner center Charles Bediako was just as impressive fighting against a tough interior opponent in Mississippi State. Bediako had 15 points and five rebounds. He also slapped away a career-high six shots.

Quinerly felt appreciation for Oats.

“It got us going again with your coach having your back,” Quinerly said. “We felt like we had to win that game for him. It felt good to see the ball go in a couple times. I’ve been trying to not let my confidence waver. Guys were just locked in for the last eight minutes.”

Unlike during their trip to Starkville a month ago, the Alabama guards got all over the glass. Even amid 0-for-6 shooting from deep, Jaden Shackelford secured eight rebounds. JD Davison snatched 10, and Darius Miles grabbed seven to go along with 12 points off the bench.

After an ice-cold start for Mississippi State guard Iverson Molinar, who missed 8 of his first 10 attempts, Molinar scored 22 points for the Bulldogs. D.J. Jeffries and Cam Carter both added 15.

After talking all week about its terrible performance on the glass in Starkville, Oats’ team finished Wednesday night with 12 more rebounds than Mississippi State.

“It was about being more physical and more tough,” Bediako said. “When we all rebound, good stuff happens.”

With the win, Alabama moves to 7-6 in conference play and is still in the running for a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.

The next game for the Crimson Tide will be on the road. Alabama will travel to Lexington for a showdown with the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 19, at noon CT on CBS.

Questions? Email the sports desk at sports@cw.ua.edu.