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December 7, 2006
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Russell Carter scored a career-high 27 points, including a pair of key baskets that thwarted an Alabama threat and sparked a 14-0 run, in Notre Dame's 99-85 victory over the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide on Thursday night.
Alabama (7-1) had used a 7-0 run to cut Notre Dame's lead to 85-82 as the Irish (7-1) appeared to be losing their composure with turnovers on three straight possessions. But Carter hit a 3-pointer and an 18-footer to extend the lead to 88-82 and Luke Harangody converted on a three-point play and it was the Crimson Tide players who lost their composure, turning the ball over on three straight turnovers.
Kyle McAlarney also had a career-high 20 points and Colin Falls also scored 20. The Irish were 12 of-28 from 3-point range. No team had shot better than 29 percent against Alabama from the 3-point range in its first seven games.
It was Notre Dame's second straight win over a ranked opponent. They beat No. 23 Maryland 81-74 on Sunday. The win ended a seven-game losing streak to ranked teams.
The Tide opened a 66-62 lead after three straight baskets by Gee, who had chances to complete three-point plays on each. Gee made only one of the free throws, but Richard Hendrix rebounded the final try to give Alabama the four-point lead.
But the Irish responded with a 10-0 run. Harangody made the first two baskets, scoring on a reverse layup and a fast-break layup off a steal. McAlarney then made a 3-pointer and a 14-foot jumper to make it 72-66. The Irish opened an 82-73 lead when Carter scored on a slam dunk following a steal with 7:20 left. They extended the lead to 85-75 on a 15-foot jumper by McAlarney.
Alabama cut it to 85-78 on three-point play by Hendrix. Zach Hillesland then fouled Gee when he tried to steal it. Gee made both free throws to cut the lead to 85-80. After Harangody threw up a desperation 3 with the shot clock running down, he lunged at the long rebound and was called for the foul. Gee made the two free throws, but Carter hit the 3 to get the Irish going again.
The Irish shot 51 percent for the game. The Tide had held its previous seven opponents to 43 percent or less from the field. Alabama had a 45-32 rebounding advantage, but after outscoring the Irish 16-10 inside in the first half, the Irish had a 16-14 advantage in the second half.
Alabama led most of the first half, opening a 22-13 lead when Brandon Hollinger banked in a 3-pointer from the left corner midway through the first half. But the end of the game feel as the crowd cheered loudly on a steal by a Carter and a layup by Tory Jackson to tie the game at 49. Alabama had the chance to take the lead, but Hendrix lost control of the ball with 2 seconds left. The Irish raced to the locker room with their arms raised and Alabama walked off the court with their heads down.
After the game, Irish students flooded the court to celebrate. It was the first back-to-back wins over ranked teams for Notre Dame since beating No. 13 Marquette, No. 9 Maryland and No. 2 Texas in six days during the 2002-03 season.
The last time Notre Dame beat a team in the top five was Feb. 8, 2005, when it beat No. 4 Boston College 68-65.