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TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 2007
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Davidson, Hendrix lead Alabama past Oklahoma

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com· 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Jermareo Davidson says he doesn’t have a name for the newest shot in his arsenal — the skyhook.

No matter, because Davidson seems to use the scoring tool just as well without a catchy name. He made two on his way to a game-high 17 points in eighth-ranked Alabama’s 70-55 victory over Oklahoma on Monday.

“Coach (Mark) Gottfried was trying to get me to use it for a long time,” Davidson said. “I’m trying to do it more. I’ve liked it so far.”

In its first home game against a power-conference opponent this season, the 6-foot-10 Davidson and 6-foot-8, 265-pound Richard Hendrix gave Alabama (13-1) an inside presence that Oklahoma (8-4) couldn’t overcome.

With their help, the Crimson Tide won its sixth straight game and recorded its 15th straight home victory.

Hendrix finished with his fourth straight double-double and fifth in six games, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

With Davidson dealing with the death of his girlfriend and his brother since the season started and Ronald Steele dealing with tendonitis in his knee and a sprained ankle, the Tide has called upon Hendrix recently to help lead the team.

“I feel like without Ron and Jermareo because of their situations the team needs someone to step up and take more of a leadership role,” Hendrix said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I’m trying to be a little more assertive.”

Hendrix’s performance enabled him to take the team scoring lead from Alonzo Gee. The 6-foot-8, 265-pound forward is averaging 15.3 points a game. Davidson and Gee are tied for second with 14.8 points.

“We need to stop taking for granted that (Hendrix) gets double-doubles every night,” Gottfried said. “He’s just getting better.”

Oklahoma challenged for a half. In fact, the Sooners had a one-point lead with 16:37 remaining in the first half, but Alabama pulled away and never looked back.

After halftime, the closest the Sooners got was six points at 18:55 of the second half, but they could not overcome their talent differential with the Tide.

“Alabama is better than us right now,” said Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. “They are incredibly talented. We have to use it as a learning experience.”

In addition, Alabama converted at the foul line to keep the door shut on the Sooners. The Tide made 22 of 24 free throws.

Steele made all seven foul shots he took and finished with 13 points, while Mykal Riley made all four he attempted on his way to 12 points. Davidson made 5 of 5. The only misses came from Hendrix, who was 2 of 4.

“We’re a team that’s going to get around the basket,” Gottfried said. “We want to pound the ball, be aggressive and get to the foul line.”

Tony Crocker led the way for the Sooners with 15 points and eight rebounds. David Godbold chipped in with 11 points.

The Tide opens SEC play Jan. 6 at Arkansas.

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