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January 22, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003

by Michael Ermitage

It doesn’t matter how good the Alabama Crimson Tide are when they head to Oxford, Mississippi each year – they are destined to be blown out by the Rebels. And that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night as Ole Miss rolled
to a 76-57 win against the struggling Tide. The unranked Rebels manhandled the Tide for the third consecutive year, which has baffled Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes.

“Before you ask, I can’t explain it,” Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said of his team’s homecourt success against the Tide.

Aaron Harper led the way, scoring a career-high 28 points. He received significant help from Justin Reed and David Sanders, who each poured in 15 points. The Rebels win gave the Tide its third loss in four games, a stark
turnaround from the beginning of the season, in which Alabama reeled off nine wins in a row to become the AP’s top team in the nation.

Next on the schedule slate for the Tide is a must-win game against Kentucky Saturday. At 2-3 in conference play, the Tide cannot afford to drop its fourth game so early in the season. Particularly since Auburn, Florida and
Kentucky all still remain undefeated in the conference.

Side Dishes

Temper, Temper: Cooler heads did not prevail in Bloomington, Ind. as the Hoosiers welcomed the Ohio State Buckeyes to town. In a foul-plagued game, Indiana upended the Buckeyes, 69-51. Senior Indiana guard Tom Coverdale and Buckeye guard Brent Darby were involved in more than one fracas, as Coverdale suffered a cut on his chin (which required six stitches) and Darby suffered through a horrible shooting night (5-of-19). Ohio State reserve Nick Sherman was ejected from the game for running on the court during one of the emotionally charged confrontations.

Finally, a Road Win: Entering Tuesday night’s contest at Providence, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had yet to win a road game this season. It wasn’t easy, but the Golden Domers finally notched a win outside of South Bend.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was pleased: “That’s all we talked about the last few days,” Brey said. “Go out and earn a road league win.” Chris Thomas led the Irish with 23 points.

Too Close for Comfort: Upwardly-mobile No. 15 Oklahoma State, winners of 12 straight, had to take it up a notch and take it to overtime to top upset-minded Baylor last night, 67-64. The Cowboys managed to let the Bears, who had stayed close all night, erase a 10-point lead and tie it in the final minute. Coming up large for OSU was Tony Allen, whose final three points of his 17-point performance made the difference, as he converted on a three-point play with 30 seconds left in the overtime.

Xavier on a Roll: The Musketeers, who struggled early in the year to live up to lofty rankings, have exploded since losing starting point guard Lionel Chalmers to an injury. Xavier beat Duquesne Tuesday night, 93-58, to earn
its fourth consecutive victory. All have been blowouts, with the average margin of victory at more than 24 points.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Is Auburn for real? That question will be answered in Lexington as the Kentucky Wildcats host the hot Tigers, who are undefeated in conference play.

• Another surprise team, the Purdue Boilermakers, attempt to remain undefeated in conference play as they travel to play the struggling Fighting Illini. Illinois is in the midst of a two-game losing streak.

• For the late-night East Coast crowd, there’s a dandy in the Pac 10 between Arizona and Arizona State. The Wildcats have coasted since their early-season loss at LSU, while the Sun Devils have surprised many as they
sit at 12-4 going into tonight’s road contest with rival Arizona.

That’s it for this Wednesday. Enjoy!

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