December 2, 2006

Steele returns as Tide wins 78-60

Consensus All-American point guard Ronald Steele scored 12 points and had 5 assists in his first game back with the Crimson Tide in nearly two weeks. Steele's efforts were enough to lead Alabama to a 78-60 victory over the Tennessee State Tigers.

"I was really excited to get a chance to play. Sitting out those two games was torture for me," said Steele, who shot 4 of 7 from the three-point line. "I was in a little pain but as the game went on it went away. The key thing for me is just to keep it loose at all times and hopefully it will get better as time goes on.

The 6th-ranked Tide moved to 7-0 with the win making them the last remaining undefeated team in the SEC.

"We didn't play as well as we'd like but I've got to give credit to Tennessee State for giving us a tough game," said sophomore Richard Hendrix who was held to a season low 8 points and 4 rebounds by TSU.

The Tigers outrebounded the Tide 38-34 in the game and 19-9 on the Tide's offensive end.

"I think we can play a lot better than we're playing," said head coach Mark Gottfried. "We just didn't do a very good job blocking them out. Rebounds are like fumbles in football. One way or the other if you've got a chance for the ball you've got to find a way to get it. Our defense isn't bad except we're giving them another opportunity to score."

Senior forward Jermareo Davidson, who led the Tide with 22 points and 8 rebounds, said he believed the Tide's early lead gave way to some lazy play late in the game, allowing the Tigers to make a charge and cut into the Tide's lead later in the game.

"Our intensity was real high [early on]," Davidson said. "At the same time, we did get a little relaxed. That's never good. Then you start making mental mistakes. We have to work hard, just keep going forward instead of coasting."

Though Steele looked slowed in his first performance back from injury, Gottfried said he believes getting back on the court will be the key to Steele's recovery.

"I don't think he's 100 percent obviously, but I think it's good for him to play," Gottfried said. "Our doctors are telling us that it's good for him to play although I didn't expect to play him as many minutes as I did. The doctors think the best thing to do is for him to play and get his leg warmed up and get the blood flowing back in."

The Tigers were lead by forward Clarence Matthew with 17 points and 6 rebounds.

Other Tide contributors included Mykal Riley who put up 14 points and 6 rebounds, and Alonzo Gee who added 11 points and 3 blocked shots.

The Tide will take to the road for their next game facing Notre Dame on Tuesday night.

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