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December 16, 2006MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Jermareo Davidson dominated in his return to No. 9 Alabama's lineup, scoring 25 points and flirting with a triple double in a 77-64 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday night.
Davidson had 11 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots to just miss becoming only the second Crimson Tide player to record a triple double - Roy Rogers did it twice in a one-week span in 1996.
Alonzo Gee added 20 points for Alabama (9-1), Richard Hendrix had 11 and Justin Tubbs 10. Davidson was 8-of-13 from the field and 9-of-12 on free throws.
Southern Miss (7-1) was off to its best start since also opening 7-0 in the 1985-86 season and had won its first seven games - all at home - by an average of 25 points.
The Golden Eagles trailed by as many as 20 points in the final five minutes but cut it to 69-61 on a drive by Sai'Quon Stone with 1:04 left.
But Gee caught a long pass from Hendrix for a quick layup and Justin Tubbs added another one to push the score out of reach.
Jeremy Wise led Southern Miss with 19 points. Craig Craft and Stone added 11 apiece.
The Golden Eagles came in averaging 80 points and shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor. They couldn't come close in either category and shot 31 percent.
Alabama shot 51 percent and hit 20 of 25 free throws in the second half.
Davidson scored the Tide's final six points of the first half for a 38-20 halftime lead. Alabama pushed the lead as high as 20 points twice, the last time at 66-46 with 4:51 left.
Davidson wasn't allowed to practice with the team last week until final exams were over Friday. He had withdrawn from school Dec. 8 after missing too much class time following his girlfriend's death in a car accident and a serious, unrelated injury to his brother.
Davidson came out fired up. He hit his first three shots and blocked three on the other side in the first 7 minutes, pumping his chest and screaming.
Point guard Ronald Steele only played the first 4 minutes for Alabama, still hobbled by ankle and knee problems.
It was Alabama's third appearance in the Coors Classic hosted by South Alabama, where coach Mark Gottfried's father, Joe, is athletic director. Mississippi beat South Alabama 82-72 in the first game.
The teams hadn't met since 1996. Alabama holds a 19-5 lead in the series.