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January 1, 2008

No. 19 Clemson wins big at Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The 19th-ranked Clemson Tigers resumed their domination of the Southeastern Conference, handing Alabama its worst home loss in seven years in the process.

Trevor Booker and James Mays scored 18 points each inside and Terrence Oglesby added 17 to lift the hot-shooting Tigers (12-1) to an 87-61 win over the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night.

It was the worst loss at Coleman Coliseum since a 93-60 defeat to LSU in 2000 for the Tide (10-4) and the most lopsided home nonconference defeat since losing by 28 to Ohio State in 1970. Alabama had won six straight games.

The Tigers have won seven of their last eight games against SEC teams, the only loss coming to No. 18 Mississippi on Dec. 22. It was their worst home loss to a nonconference team

They took control of this one midway through the second half, setting up uncontested shots and denying any such chances for the Tide.

Leading by only five points at halftime, Clemson built the lead to 20 with a 17-4 run that included two easy baskets off stolen inbounds passes. Alabama cut it to five points but couldn't come any closer.

The Tigers led by as many as 31 points.

Oglesby hit five 3-pointers for Clemson, which also got 15 points from K.C. Rivers. Booker was 9-for-13 shooting and Mays was 8-for-13, and they had eight rebounds apiece. The combination also helped contain Alabama star Richard Hendrix.

Hendrix had 14 points and seven rebounds, well below his season averages. Alonzo Gee led Alabama with 17 points while Rico Pickett had 12 points and six assists. Mykal Riley was limited to two points, 12 below his season average, and missed all eight of his 3-point attempts.

The Tigers shot 58 percent in the second half and 54 percent overall. They were equally effective on defense, limiting Alabama to 40 percent shooting and a 2-of-18 performance from 3-point range.

It was the first time the teams had met since the championship game of the San Juan Shootout in 1989, and it turned into a mismatch even though Alabama led by five points late in the first half.

The Tide fell to 0-3 against ranked teams.

The Tigers closed the first half on an 18-8 run to take a 40-35 lead, getting six points apiece from Mays and Demontez Stitt. Clemson's aggressive defense fueled the turnaround, though, with the Tigers managing only four free throws in the final 3:50 but mostly denying Alabama open baskets.

The spurt came in answer to the Tide's 16-7 run for a five-point edge.

For more coverage of Clemson, visit TigerIllustrated.com; for more on Alabama, visit BamaOnline.com.

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