Is Old Ron Steele Back For Alabama?

Alabama athletics fans suffering from a Sugar Bowl hangover didn't find a cure Saturday afternoon, but they may have found a few hours of relief in Coleman Coliseum. The somewhat surprising source of respite was the Crimson Tide men's basketball team.



Ron Steele and fellow senior Alonzo Gee both had double-doubles to help the Alabama basketball team post an 88-77 win over Georgia Tech before a crowd of 9,928. Steele finished with 23 points and dished out 10 assists. Gee led all rebounders with a career-high 18 while scoring 15 points.

"Early in the game, was as good I‘ve seen him (Steele) in a couple of years," said Tide Coach Mark Gottfried. "He was very aggressive, and using his instincts. I‘ve been waiting every day to see that quickness and speed. Tonight, maybe, was a breakthrough. It seemed like, mentally, he kind of turned it loose."

Steele said, "I made a lot of shots, and guys did a good job of finishing (with his passes).

"I'm still rehabbing, but I just feel like I‘m getting better, each game, and each practice," said Steele. "We knew it was a big game, so we wanted to come out and have fun."

"This was a very disappointing afternoon, " said Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewett. "Steele is a veteran player, and he understands how to play. I think he's' got a chance to play even better as he gets more healthy. When he‘s right, he really runs the show well. Today was the quickest I've seen him this season.

"For ten minutes, we played really hard. That's how you're supposed to play basketball."

The stretch Hewett referred to was when Tech cut the Tide lead from 30 points down to 10 with 53 second left.

"They obviously didn't quit. We need to finish the game better," said Gottfried. "I thought for about 30 minutes we were a very good."

Joining Gee and Steele in double digits were Senario Hillman (18 points), JaMychal Green (12) and Justin Knox (10). Tech's' Gani Lawal tied Steele for game honors with 23 points, and Aminu Alade scored 21.

Alabama took a 44-25 lead into the locker room due to a 14-0 run, a stretch that included two of Steele's five triples, a steal and dunk by Georgia native Senario Hillman, and a pair of Steele assists. Steele had four 3-pointers, 14 points and eight assists before intermission, and one assists was of the around-the-back variety.

Bama (10-3) held Tech (8-5) scoreless for an 8:26 span in the first half. The Tide shot 57 per cent in the first half and 53 per cent for the game. Alabama won the battle of the backboards, 40-31.

"My teammates were helping me out," Gee said. "They were boxing out, and I was just going to get them."

"We needed this win, and it was great, especially with me coming out of Georgia," Hillman said. "Alonzo did a really good job of crashing the boards. They're kind of big, so we knew we needed to rebound."

Alabama led in the "hustle stat" categories. UA had margins of 23-17 in points off turnovers, 14-10 on second chance points, and 8-2 on fast break points. In a rarity, the Tide bench outscored its opponents 10-7. Hillman had four of Alabama's eight steals.

Had Alabama not missed on 14 of its 33 free throw attempts, the margin of victory would have been higher.

"We've got to get a little bit better there. That's just part of growing up and getting experience," said Gottfried.

Next up for the Tide is a Tuesday night game at Clemson, another ACC opponent, with tip-off set for 8 p.m. CST on FSN-TV

"It's a great challenge for our guys. They understand that Clemson is terrific," said Gottfried.

"We've got to really work hard on our press offense," said Hillman. "Clemson is going to press us the whole game."

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