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Steele, Hendrix lead Alabama past Kentucky

Feb 18, 2007 - 3:31 AM TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Ronald Steele helped Alabama get back to even in Southeastern Conference play.

Star guard Steele scored 15 points and added seven assists for the Crimson Tide, who snapped a two-game losing skid and pushed them back to even in the SEC.

Richard Hendrix scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and grabbed nine rebounds to help lead Alabama past league foe Kentucky, 72-61.

Alabama (19-7, 6-6 SEC West) jumped out to a 15-2 lead behind two 3-pointers by Steele and a pair of layups from Hendrix. The Crimson Tide forced five turnovers by Kentucky in the first eight minutes and held the Wildcats to just 1-of-8 shooting to start the game.

"I was proud of our guys today," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "Our defense early in the game was good. In the second half, I thought we did a very good job. Our perimeter guys, Justin (Tubbs) and Brandon Hollinger really helped us defensively more than anything.

"It was good to see Ron Steele have a little bounce in his step today and I think he feels a little quicker and a little bit better. Richard Hendrix made some big plays. It was just a good team win for us."

Reserve forward Mykal Riley came off the bench to score 10 points over a six-minute stretch ending with 4:17 to play in the first. Riley finished with 12 points.

Kentucky did not record a field goal during a 5 1/2-minute stretch that ended with 10:10 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats needed a 7-1 run over the last four minutes of the first half to pull within 30-22.

The eight-point deficit marked the third straight game in which Kentucky has trailed at the half, all losses. The Wildcats are 2-6 this season when trailing at the half.

The streaky play for both teams continued in the second half, as Kentucky used a 9-0 run to pull within 45-42. Steele's 3-pointer ended the run and snapped an 8 1/2-minute field goal drought by the Crimson Tide.

Joe Crawford scored 10 of the Wildcats' next 13 points on two 3-pointers, a layup and a pair of free throws during a 13-5 run which brought the Wildcats within 65-61 with 71 seconds left. Crawford finished the game with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Hollinger scored all five of his points in the final 47 seconds on a layup and three free throws to seal the victory for the Crimson Tide.

The win snapped a brief two-game losing streak for Alabama.

Randolph Morris had 15 points but turned over the ball eight times for the Wildcats (18-8, 7-5 SEC East), who lost their third straight game and the first this season to an SEC West opponent. They fell to third place in the East Division because Vanderbilt beat No. 1 Florida earlier Saturday.

Morris' 15 points gave the junior center 982 for his career, 18 shy of the 1,000-point plateau.

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    KENTUCKY (18) 22 39 61
    ALABAMA 30 42 72 FINAL

    Feb 17 5:02 PM
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    Kentucky vs. AlabamaFeb 17 4:57 PM
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    Kentucky vs. AlabamaFeb 17 4:55 PM

    KENTUCKY (18) 22

    Feb 17 3:52 PM