TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Even Ronald Steele's "panic move"
worked brilliantly for Alabama Wednesday night.
Steele forced overtime with three free throws following an
offbalance 3-point attempt and converted another three-point play
with 3.6 seconds left in overtime to lift Alabama to a 78-75 win
His coach called Steele's performance "fabulous" and
"phenomenal" and teammate Jermareo Davidson deemed it
Steele, who finished with a career-high 25 points, was less
complimentary of his own judgment with 10 seconds left in
regulation. He was saved from an ill-chosen shot when he was fouled
by Dontell Jefferson and then made all three from the line.
"It was pretty much a panic move," Steele said. "I didn't
really have a good shot."
In overtime, he gave Eric Ferguson a head-fake and went by him
to the basket, getting the layup and the foul from Ferguson. He
made that one, too.
"I saw a crack in the defense," Steele said. "The big guy
didn't really commit to me and I felt like I had a good layup."
As a result, the Crimson Tide (10-6, 3-1 Southeastern
Conference) won its third consecutive game since losing leading
scorer Chuck Davis to a season-ending knee injury.
The Razorbacks (12-5, 1-3), who had led by as many as 13 midway
through the second half, had no more timeouts left to set up a
final play. Charles Thomas passed it to Ronnie Brewer, who overshot
an attempt from just before midcourt at the buzzer.
"I'm so proud of our guys for showing that kind of toughness
and heart," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "It was like the
movie 'The Incredibles'. They're incredible.
"Ronald Steele made some fabulous plays. He was phenomenal."
Ferguson tied the game at 75-all with a pullup jumper with 1:05
left in OT. Davidson collected his own missed shot and then grabbed
another rebound after Jean Felix's missed 3-pointer, setting up a
final shot for the Tide.
Davidson had 19 points and nine rebounds for Alabama. Richard
Hendrix had 11 points and 11 boards and Felix finished with 12
points. Felix also scored after rebounding his own missed free
throw late in the second half.
Ronnie Brewer had 19 of his 22 points after halftime for the
Razorbacks, including four 3-pointers. Townes had 17 points and
Charles Thomas added 12.
Brewer scored 10 consecutive points during one second-half
stretch as the Razorbacks built a 51-38 lead.
"Brewer for a couple of minutes just absolutely took the game
over," Gottfried said.
But Brewer and his teammates could only watch as Steele tied it
up at the end of regulation.
"We didn't want to foul," said Brewer, who missed a 3-pointer
at the buzzer. "We wanted them to have to hit a tough shot.
Unfortunately, we bailed them out and they hit three free throws."
Gottfried said he had no doubt Steele would convert the
"I never in my mind thought he was going to miss one," he
said. "I was absolutely confident, and I know he was. There's not
another player in America I'd rather have on the line than Ron
The Tide spent plenty of time on the line. Alabama made 22-of-33
free throws while Arkansas was just 5-of-9, a disparity that
Arkansas post players Townes, Thomas and Steven Hill were all in
foul trouble entering overtime. Hill, who had seven blocks, fouled
out with 1:31 left in OT. The other two wound up with four fouls.
Heath declined to elaborate on his feelings of the officiating
because the SEC would fine him.
"If I say it, it will cost me," Heath said.
The normally affable Heath cut the postgame interview session
"Any more questions?" he said, pausing briefly. "I'm done.