Hold On!

Alabama's 10th-ranked men's basketball team was in a comfort zone with just over six minutes to play and a 23-point lead, but it turned into a war zone for the Crimson Tide down the stretch in Raleigh Wednesday night. Bama held on for the win over North Carolina State.

Alabama got an 82-75 victory over North Carolina State to improve the Bama record to 10-1. The Wolfpack fell to 7-3.

The Crimson Tide has its final game before a short Christmas break Saturday. Bama will host Coppin State in Coleman Coliseum at 2 p.m. CST.

Sophomore forward Richard Hendrix led Alabama with 23 points and 12 rebounds. All five Bama starters scored in double figures.

Mykal Riley had 17 points and eight rebounds in the win. Ron Steele, who has been missing time with knee and ankle injuries, was able to play about three-fourths of the game and had 14 points. Jermareo Davidson had 10 points and seven rebounds, Alonzo Gee 10 points and six rebounds. The only other Tider to score was Brandon Hollinger, who had eight points.

With 6:20 to play, Steele drove the lane and scored a lay-up to give Alabama a 68-45 lead. North Carolina State never led in the game and the only time the contest was tied was in the opening moments at 2-2. In the first two minutes of the second half and the final minute f the game, the Wolfpack was able to cut the Alabama lead to single digits and with just over 20 seconds to play North Carolina State trailed by only six points.

Alabama did not shoot a free throw in the first half while building a 12-point lead, Bama leading 39-27 at intermission. In the second half Bama made 21 of 29 free throws, but seven of the eight misses came in the final 1:35 when NC State was in desperation mode—fouling on the defensive end and quick-shooting on offense.

Steele, one of the nation's best free throw shooters last year, did not have a foul shot opportunity. When NC State was fouling in the final few minutes, Steele was out of the game, the result of a leg cramp.

"We played good defense for about 35 minutes, then didn't play good defense the last five minutes because we didn't want to foul them," Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said. "I'm proud of our guys from winning. We can learn from our last four minutes. And I much prefer to learn a lesson with a win."

Gottfried said that many players contributed to the road victory. "But we've got to finish better," he said. He also gave credit to North Carolina State for playing hard to the end.

"For most of the game we showed we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team," Gottfried said.

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