Bama Hoops Hype

Braxton Key Shines in Alabama’s Win Over Mississippi State

Alabama Men's Basketball

Alabama won its fourth consecutive game with a 68-62 victory on Saturday night but it did not come easy for the Crimson Tide. After blowing a 20-point lead, the home team needed late baskets to come away with a win and Braxton Key was a big part of that.

“Braxton Key came alive for us, his best game since he came back,” Coach Johnson said about Key’s performance. “We desperately needed it tonight.”

Key finished with a season-high 16 points on the night. It was the first time this season that he led the team in scoring. The North Carolina native added 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. His final shot of the game came off of Key’s third offensive rebound that he laid back up to give Alabama the lead for good with 1:14 to go in the game.

“We still had a chance to win. Game was tied, they miss a shot and we miss a block out and Braxton Key puts in a big shot,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said after the game. “That was the switch and those are the things between winning and losing.”

That was Key’s second tie-breaking bucket of the game. The first one came when the game was tied at 54 with 6:22 left. Key knocked down his second 3-pointer of the game to make sure the Crimson Tide never trailed.

The sophomore’s first 3-pointer gave Alabama a 16-point lead in the first half and forced Mississippi State to take a timeout. Key shot from the corner closest to the student section and when the ball went in, he raised his arms to the sky as Coleman Coliseum rose to its feet.

“It’s just good to see one finally go through and it feels confident,” Key said of the shot after the game. “It felt great. My team did a great job of finding me and put me in great positions to score.”

Key’s 16 points was the most for him since the Tide forward scored 18 points in Alabama’s win over South Carolina in the 2017 SEC Tournament. His 13 shot attempts were also his highest total since that tournament.

Last season, Key scored 19 points in the Crimson Tide’s home game against the Bulldogs. In four games against Mississippi State over the last two seasons, Key is averaging 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

“I saw it in practice,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said after Saturday’s win. “He had one of his best practices since he arrived on campus yesterday. He just put it together and he carried it over to the game tonight.”

Key started his ninth consecutive game but his scoring was need with the absence of Collin Sexton. John Petty and Dazon Ingram combined to shoot just 3-for-13 so without the offensive production from Key, Alabama may not have come away with a victory.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @CalebTurrentine.

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