STARKVILLE, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Kennedy Winston's fourth straight 20-point effort led No. 19 Alabama to a Southeastern Conference West Division title.
Winston scored four of his 21 points during a late surge as the Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi State, 68-63, to earn the SEC Western Division's top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Alabama and Louisiana State tied at 12-4 in conference action, but the Crimson Tide earned the top seed because they have a one-game advantage in division play over the Tigers.
"I think it means a lot to this program," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "Everyone competes in this league so hard. I'm just so proud of our guys that they were able to win it on the road."
Winston, who has averaged 22 points over the last four games, capped a 9-0 run with a breakaway dunk to give Alabama (23-6, 12-4, SEC West) a 64-55 lead with 56 seconds remaining.
"Kennedy Winston is a guy that can manufacture shots off the dribble, and that is very difficult to defend when the guy can shoot 50 percent (on 3-pointers) and he can post up and play off the dribble," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said.
Freshman Ronald Steele triggered the pivotal run with a 3-pointer that broke a 55-55 tie with 2:20 remaining. He also hit four consecutive free throws in the final minute to seal Alabama's 108th win in 172 all-time meetings with Mississippi State.
Despite playing with a right quad contusion, Steele enjoyed a perfect shooting performance, hitting 3-of-3 from the floor and converting all six free throws en route to 13 points.
Jean Felix, who entered with a 4.9 scoring average, scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Crimson Tide. He broke a 45-45 tie with a 3-pointer and hit again from long range to provide a 53-49 advantage with 5:07 left.
Earnest Shelton, who scored 34 points in a 98-49 win over the Bulldogs on January 18, scored 11 on 5-of-9 shooting in this one as four Crimson Tide players reached double figures.
Senior Lawrence Roberts had 15 points and 11 rebounds in his final home game for the Bulldogs (21-9, 9-7 West), who had their three-game winning streak snapped. It was the 56th career double-double for Roberts - tops among all active Division I players.
"This place means a lot to me," said Roberts, who transferred from Baylor after his sophomore season. "I have had a great two years here and I will never forget the times that I had. It's hard to go out like this, but we still have some basketball to play."
Winsome Frazier scored 10 points on just 4-of-16 shooting before fouling out with 3:56 left for Mississippi State, which shot just 30 percent overall (23-of-76).
"Today our shots were just not falling like we wanted them to," Frazier said. "This was a tough loss but we just have to put it behind us. I am proud of our team and proud of the way we played defense."