Mo Williams scored 25 points and No. 8 Alabama beat No. 3 Oklahoma, 68-62, last night in New York in the season's first matchup of top 10 teams.
Both schools had four starters back from teams that won their conference tournaments last season and Oklahoma was coming off an appearance in the Final Four.
It looked like the season opener for both, especially Oklahoma, which didn't get its offense going until the game's final two minutes. Ebi Ere had 24 points for Oklahoma, while Hollis Price had all but four of his 19 in the second half.
"I was nonaggressive in the first half," Price said. "I only had nine shots for the game, and to be one of the best players, I have to take more than that."
Kenny Walker scored 14 points for Alabama and preseason all-American Erwin Dudley had 12 points and eight rebounds. But it was Williams, a sophomore guard, who came up big when the Sooners made their late run.
"This was two good teams, a good way to start out the year," Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said. "I didn't think we finished as well as we could have. You've got to learn. That's what early games are for."
Oklahoma Coach Kelvin Sampson was a little more direct in assessing his team's first game since losing in the national semifinals last season at the Georgia Dome.
"I was a little concerned something like this would happen, so I'm not totally surprised by it," he said. "Since we got back from Atlanta, this group of kids has had everybody tell them how great they were and pat them on the back.
"But that first 35 minutes, there was no toughness and playing hard that we have had at Oklahoma for the last eight years. I was ashamed of the way we played."
* MEMPHIS 70, SYRACUSE 63: For openers, the Tigers and Orangemen put a couple of hotshot freshmen in the Madison Square Garden spotlight, and Jeremy Hunt and Carmelo Anthony shrugged off the pressure.
Hunt and Memphis won the freshman showdown after letting a 17-point lead melt away when Anthony put on a one-man show, scoring 15 straight first-half points.
"Once we blew the lead, we looked at each other and said 'Wow, we lost the lead,' " Hunt remembered. "We regrouped and that got us going."
Hunt and Anthony Rice were the main men in a 12-0 Memphis run that put the Tigers back in front to stay. Meanwhile, Anthony, who scored 21 points in the first half, finished with 27 and 11 rebounds. But he missed five free throws down the stretch that hurt Syracuse.