NCAAB: No. 8 Alabama opens SEC play by beating No. 21 Mississippi St.

Brandon Miller had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 8 Alabama to a 78-67 victory over host and No. 21 Mississippi State in both teams’ Southeastern Conference opener on Wednesday at Starkville, Miss.

Mark Sears added 20 points for the Crimson Tide (11-2, 1-0), who are off to their best 13-game start since going 12-1 to open the 2006-2007 season.

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Miller shot 7 of 15 from the field, including hitting 5 of 10 from 3-point range, while Sears went 5 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 8 from deep, to go along with three assists.

Noah Clowney added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Nick Pringle finished with 10 points and four rebounds. Jaden Bradley had seven points and a game-high seven assists.

The Crimson Tide shot 26 of 57 (45.6 percent) from the field, including 12 of 32 (37.5 percent) from 3-point range. Alabama outrebounded the Bulldogs 41-38.

Mississippi State (11-2, 0-1), which has dropped two straight games after opening the season with 11 straight wins, was led by D.J. Jeffries’ 11 points and 15 rebounds. KeShawn Murphy scored nine of his 11 points in the first half. Will McNair Jr. added 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Bulldogs shot 20 of 55 (36.4 percent) from the field, including 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

But Mississippi State was undone at the free-throw line, going 18 of 36 (50 percent), with Tolu Smith missing 12 of his 15 attempts. Smith, who finished with five points, also missed six of his seven shots from the field.

Alabama made 14 of its 18 attempts (77.8 percent) from the free-throw line.

Cameron Matthews’ two free throws pulled the Bulldogs to within 39-35 with 17:24 left in the second half. But the Crimson Tide countered with an 11-2 run, punctuated by Pringle’s slam for a 50-37 lead with 13:39 to go.

Bradley’s two free throws made it 70-53 with 5:16 left.

Sears scored nine points and Miller added eight in the first 20 minutes for Alabama, which led 34-30 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

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