AROUND THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
Harper leads Rebels past Crimson Tide
Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 1:38 a.m.
OXFORD, Miss. - 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 have been blown out at Tad Smith Coliseum.
AT A GLANCE
The Crimson Tide fell to 0-3 away from home in the SEC.
Alabama (12-4, 2-3 SEC) 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 another poor showing in his home state with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Justin Reed and David Sanders had 15 points each to complement Harper's 9-for-15 shooting for Ole Miss (11-4, 2-2).
The Crimson Tide fell to 0-3 away from home in the SEC and lost their fifth straight at Tad Smith, including embarrassing losses the previous two seasons by margins of 34 and 28.
When the Crimson Tide fell behind 10-2 and went four minutes without a basket it looked again like the 3-hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Oxford had somehow left them sluggish.
But Williams led a 17-2 run with a 3, a layup and a floater in the lane, and it looked like the Tide would finally shake off the Tad Smith malaise.
It turned out to be the only highlights for the Jackson, Miss., native and former state high school player of the year.
Last season's SEC freshman of the year managed just 12 points and 4-for-15 shooting in losses at Mississippi and Mississippi State last year.
It didn't get any better Tuesday night for Williams, starting with the first possession when he had his dribble stolen by Sanders. Williams' first shot drew nothing but air, and the 84 percent free-throw shooter even missed both attempts from the line.
Ole Miss had the final spurt of the first half, an 11-4 run capped by Harper's leaner that bounced through with about a second left and gave Ole Miss a 32-26 lead. Harper had 16 in the half.
Reed picked up his third foul less than two minutes into the second half and went to the bench. But instead of slowing down, the Rebels pulled away.
Right after Reed took a seat, the Rebels ripped off an 8-2 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Kendrick Fox and Sanders that made it 45-33.
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.
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