MSU's Dee Bost (3) and Brian Bryant, right, celebrate with Jalen Steele near the end of Wednsday's LSU game. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Jalen Steele's knee held up against the LSU Tigers this time and that was good news for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Steele tied a season-high with 15 points to help the Bulldogs defeat the Tigers 76-71 Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
It was last year against LSU in a Feb. 23 game in Starkville that Steele tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and missed the last four games of the season.
Steele was able to play for 19 minutes against the Tigers on Wednesday and was a factor down the stretch in helping MSU get the win.
By shooting 4-of-6 shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, Steele was able to match the 15-point efforts against Troy and Vanderbilt this season.
He calmly went to the free-throw line with 12.9 seconds left in the game and sank two shots to give MSU a 74-71 lead.
"Jalen came in and knocked down some shots," MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. "He was feeling it."
Stansbury said Steele was also "feeling it" in practice this week, but took a knee in his thigh during a walkthrough and couldn't finish the workout.
"We were running sets and Jalen took a knee from Wendell (Lewis)," Stansbury said. "We didn't know how he was going to be, but he has a deep thigh bruise. We could tell when he caught ball with a lot of confidence and came off that Vandy game to give us another good game."
Steele had 10 points in 10 minutes of the first half as the Bulldogs took a 32-31 lead. He had an 8-0 run by himself to put MSU up 30-28 at one point of the first half.
"He gives big spurt off bench and that's what you need," MSU senior point guard Dee Bost said. "Jalen gives us a lot of scoring off bench and much needed 3-pointers in games."
Steele's 3-pointer with 9:13 remaining in the game gave the Bulldogs a 54-48 advantage over the Tigers.
As far as defensively, Steele had a difficult assignment in trying to guard LSU's Anthony Hickey.
Stansbury didn't fault Steele's effort on defense even though Hickey hit a couple of big 3-point shots at the end.
"Jalen gives great effort every night," Stansbury said. "That young man Stringer got going and knocked down two 3's on him. We need to make sure Jalen understands time and score situations and he got caught on close-outs with his hands down, but I've got confidence in him no matter what it is."
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