Bama suffers without Steele
STARKVILLE — Before the season, some thought Alabama's Ronald Steele was the best point guard in the country.
Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum was a microcosm of just how far Ronald Steele's stock has fallen. He sat near the end of the bench in street clothes, recurring knee and ankle injuries all but ruining his junior season.
MSU won, 91-67, beating an Alabama team without a true point guard. But State coach Rick Stansbury sure didn't want the absence of the opposition's best player to diminish his team's win.
"Naturally, he has been with them or not all year long, so it's not the first time they have played without him," Stansbury said. "They have a lot of good players."
Neither did Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. He had little patience with a postgame question that asked how different his team was without Ronald Steele.
"We're a different team," Gottfried said. "That's stating the obvious again. We're beating that dead horse to death. He's a first-team All-American."
Welcome to Starkville, Title Town?
Sunday's win gave Mississippi State its fifth division title, which is the most Western Division titles by any school. MSU entered Sunday tied with Arkansas for that honor.
GORDON STILL GAINING
Jamont Gordon scored 27 points in a losing effort to Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Feb. 7, but "only" scored 11 in Sunday's win. But he upped his production in one key category: He had nine assists Sunday compared to two in the previous game.
"It was about taking charge and passing it to the open man so they can make the shot," said Gordon, the sophomore.
In State's last seven games, Gordon has 43 assists to 17 turnovers.
State had 25 assists, three more than it had in any other game all season.
CONCERN WITH SLATER
Dietric Slater entered the postgame news conference with a net draped around his neck. Moments earlier, he was on the floor with all kinds of tape around his hand, not to mention an assortment of braces elsewhere.
Slater worked out this week with a bum knee and a bad finger, not to mention recurring back spasms.
"Dietric was going to play," Stansbury said. "My main concern was how close was he to not being effective."
For Slater, it's personal when it comes to playing - and beating - Alabama.
"When the buzzer sounded and all the guys were running around, I personally wanted to shake Coach Gottfried's hand and all the players just to see what they were saying and see the look on their faces," Slater said.