Alabama State (2-4) at Alabama (7-1)

Cloudy Currently: Tuscaloosa, AL
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sat Dec 9, 2006
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Alabama’s stay in the top five of the AP poll will be brief.

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they host Alabama State on Saturday.

Playing with its highest AP ranking since January 2003, Alabama (7-1) was upset 99-85 at Notre Dame on Thursday.

The usually stingy Crimson Tide defense allowed season highs in points, field-goal percentage (51.6) and 3-point percentage (42.9) in the team’s first true road game.

Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, whose team is allowing 63.4 points a game, expected more from his defense.

“We feel like, you score 85 points on the road, at Notre Dame, that should be enough points to win,” he said. “We didn’t guard them as well as we’d like to and we turned the ball over too many times.”

Trailing most of the second half, Alabama got within three points late, but couldn’t answer a 14-0 Notre Dame run.

“They just played hard and outhustled us,” said Alonzo Gee, who scored 24 points but also had four of the Tide’s 16 turnovers.

Preseason All-American guard Ronald Steele added 13 points for Alabama, which allowed the opposition to shoot above 43 percent for the first time all season.

Gee is averaging a team-high 16.0 points while Steele adds 12.7 points and 5.0 assists per game for the Tide, whose five starters all have double-figure scoring averages.

The Crimson Tide should have little trouble getting back in the win column against their in-state rivals. All six meetings between the schools have come since 1997 and Alabama won them all by at least 18 points.

In last season’s matchup, forward Richard Hendrix had 22 points and 14 rebounds while Davidson added 20 and 11 to lead the Tide to a 105-68 win over Alabama State.

Hendrix and Davidson have keyed Alabama’s strong start, combining to average more than 27 points and 19 rebounds, but the duo shot 9-for-26 from the field against Notre Dame.

The Hornets (2-4) are looking to avoid a third straight loss. In its most recent game, Alabama State shot 17-for-60 (28.3 percent) from the field in a 71-45 loss to Santa Clara on Dec. 1.

Alabama State is shooting 31.8 percent this season and allowing teams to make 46.5 percent.

Guard Andrew Hayles scored 14 points against Santa Clara to stay near his team-leading season average of 14.2 per game. Hayles, last season’s Southwestern Athletic Conference newcomer of the year, is the only Alabama State player averaging in double figures.

Hayles had 12 points in 22 minutes in last season’s loss to Alabama.

“Andrew really has become our go-to guy,” Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson told the school’s official Web site. “This year we are expecting even more from him.”

The Hornets, predicted to finish sixth in the SWAC in a preseason poll, have lost their last 12 games to ranked opponents.

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