for this game

Steele's late heroics lift No. 19 Alabama past Miss. St.

Feb 8, 2007 - 5:56 AM TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Mississippi State's Ben Hansbrough couldn't close the deal. But Ron Steele did for Alabama.

Steele scored 10 points, including the go-ahead jumper with six seconds remaining, to lift the 19th-ranked Crimson Tide to an 80-79 triumph over the Bulldogs in Southeastern Conference battle.

Richard Hendrix scored 22 points and Jermareo Davidson added 17 and 11 rebounds for Alabama (18-5, 5-4 SEC West), which has won four of its last five meetings against Mississippi State.

"I just wanted to be aggressive, get the ball around the basket and use effective moves," said Hendrix, who also pulled down 10 rebounds.

The victory also kept the Crimson Tide atop the West Division.

"The SEC West race is so close," Hendrix said. "If you give it your best shot and get a win, you could go from sixth to second."

The Bulldogs led, 77-72, late in the second half before Mykal Riley drained a 3-pointer to close the Crimson Tide to within two points. After Charles Rhodes split a pair of free throws, Riley hit another shot from the arc to tie the game at 78-78 with 30 second left.

Hansbrough had a chance to give Mississippi State (12-10, 3-6 West) a two-point edge, but he converted just 1-of-2 free throws 16 second later, setting the stage for Steele's heroics.

Following Hansbrough's made foul shot, Steele raced the length of the court and scored the game-winning basket on an isolation play past Jamont Gordon.

"We ran a clear out, kind of a 1-4 and cleared that thing out and he (Steele) was able to get to the rim and lay it in there," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "The story is we've got a team that never quits."

"(Gottfried) called 1-4 flat," Steele said. "Richard was on the right side. His man was so worried about him scoring because he had been scoring all night. (Hendrix) did a good job of recognizing that so he moved to open it up. I was able to get by my man and make the layup."

"They just went in and made the basket," Gordon said. "There was a breakdown on my part. He just ran the ball past me. He got me backpedaling and went past me."

The Bulldogs still had one last chance to win it, but Barry Stewart misfired from 3-point range. It was the fourth loss in the last five games for Mississippi State.

"Give Alabama credit, they played the last minute game beautifully," Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said.

Gordon scored a career-best 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Dietric Slater added 13 and eight for the Bulldogs, who shot just 38 percent (25-of-65) from the field.

"It was a tough loss for us," Gordon said. "This would have been out first road win. It came right down to the wire."