Samford wanted to earn a little respect from the team that blew the Bulldogs out of last year's NCAA tournament. It got a lot more than that.

The Alabama school and member of the Trans America Athletic Conference delivered the latest upset of a Top 25 team, beating No. 15 St. John's, 68-60, last night in the opening round of the CoSIDA Classic in Albuquerque.

Samford will play Dayton, a 70-57 winner over New Mexico, in today's championship.

Samford (1-0) had its first trip to the NCAA tournament spoiled last March by St. John's, 69-43, in the first round of the South Region in Orlando.

Guard Will Daniel scored 17 points and led a second-half surge as St. John's joined Connecticut, Ohio State and Duke as ranked teams beaten in their first games this season.

"At least now you know we weren't lying when we said Samford was good," St. John's Coach Mike Jarvis said. "We made a lot of bad decisions and took a lot of bad shots and we paid the price."

Daniel and Marc Salyers combined for 19 points over an eight-minute stretch in the second half that secured the upset. Daniel scored eight points in a 66-second span.

* KENTUCKY 56, UTAH 48: In Lexington, Ky., Saul Smith and Desmond Allison made clutch jump shots in the final two minutes as No. 14 Kentucky held off No. 16 Utah and advanced to the Preseason NIT semifinals. The win sends Kentucky to Madison Square Garden, where it will play Maryland, a 78-70 winner over Tulane.

Jamaal Magloire led the Wildcats with 15 points.

"We had some turnovers where we tried to make some plays, and those were inexperienced turnovers," Utah Coach Rick Majerus said. "We met the enemy and the enemy was us on five of the turnovers. We had spacing difficulties, alignment difficulties and we had Kentucky difficulties."

* VIRGINIA 97, ELON 66: Donald Hand scored 18 points and Chris Williams added 16 points and nine rebounds as host Virginia opened its season with a win. Freshman Travis Watson added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers (1-0), with classmates Roger Mason and Majestic Mapp scoring 10 points apiece. The three are part of one of the most highly regarded recruiting classes in the country.

* TOLEDO 82, GEORGE MASON 74: Greg Stempin scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds for Toledo as the Rockets defeated visiting George Mason in the season opener for both teams. Stempin was one of five players in double figures for the Rockets. George Evans provided most of the offense for the Patriots, going 17 for 30 and finishing with 38 points and 12 rebounds. Teammate Keith Holdan had 15 points.

* RICE 70, NAVY 64: Shawn Tyndell, who had only three points in regulation play, scored eight in overtime to lead Rice in Houston. Erik Cooper led Rice (1-0) with a game-high 19 points while Alex Bougaieff added 14 and a game-high nine rebounds. Substitute John Williams led Navy (0-1) with 17 points and Chris Williams (no relation) chipped in 14.

* FLORIDA 96, FLORIDA ST. 61: Running and trapping in midseason form, No. 7 Florida opened its schedule by forcing 29 turnovers in the home win. Udonis Haslem scored 18 points and Teddy Dupay and Mike Miller had 15 each for the Gators.

* CONNECTICUT 89, VERMONT 52: Khalid El-Amin scored 28 points as No. 8 Connecticut routed visiting Vermont in the first meeting between the schools in 19 years.

* ILLINOIS 76, WESTERN ILLINOIS 53: Frank Williams sparked host Illinois with a pair of three-pointers early in the second half and the 17th-ranked Illini used a 32-4 run to rout Western Illinois in the opener for both teams.

* KANSAS 97, FAIRFIELD 71: Kenny Gregory scored 19 points as No. 11 Kansas launched its season with a win at Allen Fieldhouse.

* AUBURN 65, UAB 59: Mamadou N'diaye had 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead third-ranked Auburn at home in a sloppy season opener. Chris Porter had 11 points for the Tigers.

* OKLAHOMA ST. 87, APPALACHIAN ST. 75: Joe Adkins had 18 points and No. 23 Oklahoma State started the second half with a 14-2 run on its way to a season-opening victory at home in the America's Youth Classic. In the first game, Idaho beat Oral Roberts, 71-70, in overtime.