By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Jalen Steele showed no signs of rust from his three-game suspension.
Mississippi State’s junior guard, who’d been benched for an unspecified violation of team rules, returned to the court Wednesday against Alabama. He scored a team-high 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting in the Bulldogs’ 64-56 loss.
Steele made 3 of 6 from 3-point range and all four of his free throw attempts.
“I’ve been in the gym hard,” he said.
Steele said the suspension has helped drive into his head what first-year coach Rick Ray expects of him off the court.
“You’ve just got to keep your head on the straight and narrow and keep pushing through it and be focused,” Steele said. “Even off the court you’ve got to be focused on what you need to do and complete your task.”
Thomas toughs it out
Guard Fred Thomas was on crutches and wearing a protective boot Tuesday because of an ankle injury suffered in practice, but he played Wednesday.
He didn’t play well offensively, missing all seven shots, including six from 3-point range.
Ray said he didn’t know if the ankle affected Thomas’ performance, but he praised the freshman’s defensive effort. Thomas had three steals.
Player of the game
Jalen Steele got off to a good start and was a consistent offensive presence.
“We’re going to get through it, and we’ll be all right.” – Jalen Steele, on MSU’s 11-game losing streak
MSU returns home Saturday to take on Vanderbilt. Tipoff is 12:30 p.m.