Tide Hits Jackpot in Vegas Win
"I was comfortable. I was able to catch the ball (down low)," Richard Hendrix said. "It was also a night when the ball was going in."
Three other Tiders ended up with double digits in the scoring columns, as Alonzo Gee added 18, Mykal Riley scored 13 and Mikhail Torrance had 10 off the bench.
Missouri State jumped out to an 8-3 lead before a crowd of around 1,000 at the Orleans Arena, prompting a Tide time-out less than three minutes into the game. The Bears built their lead up to eight as the Tide struggled on both ends of the court.
A dunk by Gee at the 12:25 mark cut the margin to 17-13, and Mikhail Torrance converted a steal into a lay-up to close the margin to 18-17. Riley laid it in for a 19-18 Tide lead at the 7:40 mark, but MSU's Chris Cooks immediately hit a leaner to give the lead back to the Bears.
Riley put in a missed Gee free throw to give Bama the lead back with five minutes left in the half, 25-24. After MSU tied the game, Hendrix scored inside for a 29-27 Tide lead before State took time-out with 3:22 left.
Bama went to a zone, which seemed to slow down MSU, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 31.
"We're not very good, and we know it," said Tide coach Mark Gottfried. "But we're going to slug you out. We are who we are."
A Hendrix lay-up in the first minute of the second half gave Bama back the lead, and his jump-hook gave the Tide a 35-31 advantage. State's Devin Mitchell responded with an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Brandon Hollinger nailed a 3-ball, but Ryan Dailey's long shot put the Bears back in the lead. Spencer Laurie hit back-to-back bombs for a six-point MSU lead at the 16 minute mark.
The Bear lead went up to 49-41, but the Tide clawed its way back, and Gee's lay-up tied the game at 56 with just under nine minutes remaining. Hendrix hit a jump hook to put his team back in the lead.
Two straight Tide turnovers led to a pair of Bear buckets before Gee nailed a 3-pointer for a 61-60 Tide lead. Hendrix hit a 15-footer to put the Tide up 67-66 with four minutes remaining, then Drew Richards got loose for a lay-in.
Gee's steal and Hollinger's trey put Bama back ahead with just under three minutes left in the game, but Justin Fuhrmeyer bombed from the right wing and Bama took time-out down 71-70 with 2:14 on the clock.
Gee dunked on a put-back and the Tide regains the lead.
"He plays so hard," Gottfried said of Gee, "and good things happened."
Riley stole the ball and drew an intentional foul. The senior hit one of his two free throws, and then nailed a 3-ball as the shot clock wound down for a five-point Bama lead with under 50 seconds remaining.
Richards tipped in a Bear miss, but MSU then had to foul. Torrance hit a pair, Hendrix blocked a three-point attempt, and was hacked.
The junior split a pair at the line, and Torrance capped the win with a slam just before time expired.
"We're figuring things out with our team," said Gottfried. "We feel like we beat a good team."
MSU fell to 7-4 on the season.
Alabama shot 75 per cent in the second half. Hendrix finished the game 13-for-15 from the floor.
The Tide (8-3) will face Iowa State for the tourney title Sunday night at 9:30 Central Time.
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