Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Top 25: Alabama fading fast

The Associated Press

Alabama needed a win in the worst way. The Crimson Tide was playing in the wrong place. Aaron Harper scored a career-high 28 points to lead Mississippi to a 76-57 victory over No. 15 Alabama on Tuesday night, the third straight season the Crimson Tide has been blown out at Tad Smith Coliseum.

Alabama, ranked No. 1 in the nation less than a month ago, dropped to 0-3 in SEC road games and has lost three of four overall.

"I wish I had some magic formula I could just whip out, but sometimes you find yourself in a place you don't want to be," coach Mark Gottfried said. "That's where we are right now."

The Crimson Tide (12-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) couldn't overcome off nights by both of its stars. Reigning SEC player of the year Erwin Dudley scored 13 points, and leading scorer Maurice Williams had a poor showing in his home state with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Alabama lost its fifth straight at Mississippi, including embarrassing losses the previous two seasons by margins of 34 and 28.

"Before you ask, I can't explain it," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said. "This is a great win to beat a team that was No. 1 in the country."

In other games involving ranked teams, it was No. 13 Oklahoma State 67, Baylor 64 in overtime; No. 14 Indiana 69, Ohio State 51; No. 16 Notre Dame 71, Providence 65; and No. 21 Missouri 64, Iowa St. 59.

Justin Reed and David Sanders had 15 points each to complement Harper's 9-of-15 shooting for Ole Miss (11-4, 2-2).

Harper finished off the Crimson Tide with consecutive 3-pointers that made it 62-47 with 6:50 left. He was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and had a team-high nine rebounds.

Ole Miss has won two straight against ranked SEC opponents.

"We're back in the race," Harper said.

No. 13 Oklahoma State 67, Baylor 64

At Waco, Texas, Tony Allen scored 17 points, the last by converting a three-point play with 38.6 seconds left in overtime, and Oklahoma State extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13.

The Cowboys (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) blew a 10-point lead in the second half but pulled out the win after Allen took a pass from Melvin Sanders and made a nifty move along the baseline for the go-ahead basket.

Lawrence Roberts had 21 points and 17 rebounds for Baylor (9-6, 0-4), forcing overtime when he made a 3-pointer with 9 seconds left in regulation.

No. 16 Notre Dame 71, Providence 65

At Providence, R.I., Chris Thomas scored 23 points and Matt Carroll had 21 as Notre Dame won on the road for the first time this season.

The Fighting Irish (15-3, 3-1) had played on another team's court only twice this season, losses to Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Notre Dame struggled with most of its offense against Providence (9-7, 2-3), except at the free-throw line where it went 21-for-25, including 10-for-13 over the final 5:04.

Ryan Gomes had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Friars.

No. 21 Missouri 64, Iowa St. 59

At Columbia, Mo., Ricky Clemons came back from a one-game suspension and found his scoring touch just in time to lead a late spurt for Missouri.

Clemons, a junior point guard who leads the Tigers with a 17-point average, was reinstated Monday after being charged with choking a 20-year-old woman last week. He shot 5-for-19 and missed a handful of wild layup attempts.

He finally started connecting in the closing minutes, scoring six of his 15 points in a 13-0 run that put Missouri, once down by three, ahead 60-50 with 2:45 to go.

Clemons is charged with second-degree domestic assault and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 29. He'll likely play the rest of the season with the Tigers before the case could go to trial.

Arthur Johnson had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Missouri (11-3, 2-1 Big 12), which lost by 20 at Oklahoma State on Saturday without Clemons.

Freshman Adam Haluska had 15 points for Iowa State (10-5, 0-4), which has lost four in a row - all to ranked opponents in the Big 12.

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