LSU Looks Like "Must"

Following Alabama's 87-68 win over South Carolina in Coleman Coliseum Saturday, it was natural that Tide partisans began to look at the possibilities for the 2005 Crimson Tide basketball team.

Senior Alabama guard Earnest Shelton shared the situation. "Our destiny is in our hands and we can win the SEC championship.," Shelton said. "It's something that is our goal, but it isn't going to happen if we don't come out Tuesday night and win too. We're just going to take it one game at a time and go for our 11th win."

The win over South Carolina gave Bama a 21-4 record and a 10-2 Southeastern Conference record. The last time Bama had a 10-2 mark in its first dozen SEC games was 1987, when Bama went on to the SEC championship and a Sweet 16 finish in the NCAA Tournament. The point guard of that Crimson Tide squad 18 years ago was current Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried.

It's true that Alabama is one of two SEC teams that controls its own destiny, as the saying goes. The other is Kentucky, currently leading the league with an 11-1 record and coming off a rout of pre-season SEC Western Division favorite Mississippi State.

Much attention has been focused on the Saturday game that will have Kentucky at Alabama's Coleman Coliseum. That contest will tip off at 12:30 p.m. CST and be televised by CBS.

But Bama has a big task before worrying about the Wildcats. Another breed of feline has quietly stayed in good shape for the SEC West crown. Following LSU's win over Florida Saturday, the Bengal Tigers are at 8-4 in the SEC, only two games behind Alabama.

Alabama will be in Baton Rouge for a critical game Tuesday. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. CST with television coverage by ESPN.

Alabama defeated LSU 73-58 in the first meeting in Tuscaloosa.

While Alabama will continue to be in first place in the SEC Western Division regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night's game at LSU, the remainder of the schedule favors the Tigers. Alabama will host Kentucky and Auburn and play at Mississippi State. LSU's final three games are at Auburn and Ole Miss and at home against Arkansas.

Following the win over South Carolina, Gottfried said, "Our players have been on an even keel all year. They've stayed that way whether we have won big or lost big, and we've done both. There's not a lot of discussion about an SEC Championship or where we'll be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. They've stayed pretty focused on the task at hand."

LSU features two of the best players in the SEC in Brandon Bass and Glenn Davis. Alabama counters with Kennedy Winston, Chuck Davis and Shelton, all ranked among the top dozen scorers in the league.

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