By MATTHEW STEVENS
With two minutes left in the Southeastern Conference opener, Alabama’s starting five left to an ovation from the fans left in the stands – at Mississippi State’s Humphrey Coliseum.
The MSU fan base that was still remaining of the announced attendance of 7,121 were trying to file for the exits in disgust as the Bulldogs dropped its league opener at home 75-57 to Alabama Saturday.
"I felt like at one point in time, we gave up," Mississippi State junior guard Dee Bost said.
Saturday represented the return of Bost from a combined 14-game suspension due to being academically ineligible and failing to properly withdraw from the NBA draft process before last May’s deadline.
Bost finished his first regular season game of the 2010-11 season with a team-high 14 points but clearly showed the rust and lack of conditioning familiar with such a layoff specifically on his shooting (1-for-6 from beyond the three-point arc and 3-9 from the foul line).
“It’s not his fault (but) it’s very obvious he was no factor,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said. “He had no legs. He had no legs. He had nothing.”
Alabama, the SEC’s top defensive team coming into the contest in opposing field goal percentage and points per game, held Mississippi State (8-7, 0-1 in SEC play) to just 34 percent shooting and 5-for-24 from three-point range.
In his regular season debut at Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State sophomore forward Renardo Sidney finished 26 minutes of play with a mere two points on 1-for-8 shooting.
“Hopefully he understands more now what it’s like at this level with the toughness, the energy and the conditioning you got to be in,” Stansbury said.
Sidney was not made unavailable to the media after the contest due to a coaches decision.
On the other end of the spectrum, Alabama’s McDonald’s All-American selection from three years ago (JaMychal Green) posted his 16th career double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds).
“I thought JaMychal did a great job (defensively) and did a very good job of giving Sidney a big body to score over and keeping him from getting the position that he wanted to establish,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said.
Green was stuffed for just two points in the first 20 minutes of play but was able to knock down some jump shots to get his offensive momentum back quickly in the second half.
“The first half I was trying to bang with (Sidney) and that’s a battle I’m going to lose every time,” Green said. “The coaches kept telling me to face him up and use my quickness against him.”
Alabama freshman guard Trevor Releford led the Crimson Tide in scoring for the first time this season with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
The Kansas City, Mo., native hadn’t had more than six points during any game of Alabama’s three-game winning streak.