NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) How Alabama scores matters as much as how many, and coach Avery Johnson likes the progress he's seeing in both areas.

Defense also factored into opportunities resulting in a thorough Southeastern Conference Tournament victory for the Crimson Tide.

Dazon Ingram scored 17 points, Corbin Collins added 14 and Alabama shot well throughout to roll past Mississippi State 75-55 on Thursday.

The fifth-seeded Crimson Tide had it easy in its tournament opener, leading by as many as 30 with eight minutes remaining against a Bulldogs squad playing its second SEC contest in 24 hours. Alabama's sharpness in many facets created that clear path as it made 25 of 53 from the field (47 percent) and committed just nine turnovers for its most decisive win since drilling LSU 90-72 last month.

''Pretty good performance for us on both ends of the floor,'' said Johnson, whose team swept all three games from the Bulldogs. ''We've been a pretty consistent defensive team all year. Fortunately, tonight we had little bit of a combined effort both on the defensive and the offensive ends.

''We got off to a good start. We thought we set a great tune for type of pace we wanted the play this game, and fortunately some shots went down for us.''

Ingram made all seven field goal attempts including a 3-pointer, while Collins came off the bench to make 4 of 6 from long range. Alabama finished 8 of 16 from behind the arc for its best outing since hitting 9 of 15 in a Jan. 25 win at Georgia.

''I just felt like we came out,'' Ingram said. ''We got warmed up. That was the big key for us. Stay focused when we were in the warmups. You could see it carried over.''

Reserves Donte Hall and Avery Johnson Jr. each added 10 points for Alabama (18-13), which moves on to a Friday quarterfinal against No. 4 South Carolina.

Reserve Tyson Carter had 13 points for the 12th-seeded Bulldogs (16-16), whose consolation was winning the rebounding battle (38-36) and paint points (40-32).


Mississippi State: The Bulldogs faced a huge hurdle with the possibility of five tournament games in as many days, but the demands of a short turnaround from Wednesday's rout of LSU took its toll. They struggled to knock down shots for stretches, hitting just 2 of 12 late in the half and finishing the half on a 2:44 scoring drought. A five-minute drought followed in the second, leading to an insurmountable deficit.

''Their defense really, really caused us problems offensively the entire game,'' second-year Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said of the Crimson Tide. ''We struggled to score. I thought our defense in the first half was decent at times, but they kept getting it inside too much.''

Alabama: Tied for last in SEC scoring (68.4 points per game) during the regular season, the Crimson Tide posted their highest total in five outings behind 42 points from their bench. `Bama's second-ranked conference field goal defense also lived up to billing by holding the Bulldogs to 39 percent from the field. The Tide also blocked six shots.


The Tide drew a rematch with South Carolina, which it beat 90-86 on Feb. 7 in an epic four-overtime game in Columbia when the Gamecocks were ranked 19th and sitting atop the SEC. Johnson wouldn't be surprised if it were another grind-it-out affair against the Gamecocks and SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell.

''They're going to want to try to get back on the winning side against us,'' the coach said. ''We're going to have to be ready to play.''


While a lower-tier tournament remains possible for the Bulldogs, they've lost eight of their last 11. Two of their three wins came consecutively against last-place LSU including Wednesday's 27-point rout .


Mississippi State: Postseason to be determined.

Alabama: Faces No. 4 seed South Carolina on Friday.


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