Alabama Faces LSU In SEC Tourney

Shannon Hale

Make no mistake about it, Alabama's 83-58 romp over Arkansas Saturday was great fun. And it was oh so fine for Trevor Releford to add to his resume as a deserving Southeastern Conference Player of the Year candidate on Senior Day. But was it in Bama's best interest to earn the No. 10 seed and the first day bye that comes with it for this week's SEC Tournament?



Alabama's Saturday victory, coupled with Ole Miss hanging on to beat Vanderbilt in Oxford, moved the Crimson Tide from what seemed a likely Wednesday game on the first day of the SEC Tournament to a second day first game. That is because Alabama (13-18 overall and 7-11 in the conference) defeated Vandy in regular season play. The Commodores are also 7-11 in the league, but fell to the 11th seed.

So what's to question?

Vanderbilt is almost certainly going to get one more victory. The Commodores will play the 14th seed in the tournament, hapless Mississippi State (3-15 in the conference this year).

The SEC Tournament begins Wednesday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The tournament concludes with the championship game Sunday, March 16.

Alabama will meet the No. 7 seed, LSU, at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central) Thursday. The game will be regionally televised on the SEC Network.

The winner of that game will play No. 2 seed Kentucky Friday.

While Alabama goes into the tournament coming off a big win, the Tigers suffered a disappointing 69-61 homecourt loss to Georgia in the final regular season game of the year Saturday. LSU goes into the tournament with a record of 18-12 overall and 9-9 in conference games.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers played only one time in regular season play with Bama pulling out an 82-80 victory in Tuscaloosa. Alabama led by as many as 19 points in the game, but LSU fought back to take a three-point lead in the final five minutes. Bama freshman Shannon Hale hit a three-pointer for the win.

Late Saturday, LSU junior Anthony Hickey told Tiger Sports Digest, "We've got to come out and make the first punch. We're going to leave this game behind us and move forward right away. We've already played Alabama, so we know what they can do. We've just got to come do what we do."

Florida completed its 18-0 SEC season with a home win over Kentucky Saturday and is the top seed in the tournament. The Gators dominated the league with Kentucky and Georgia tying for second at 12-6.

The tournament begins Wednesday with Auburn meeting South Carolina at 7 p.m. EDT. The Vanderbilt-Mississippi State game follows.

The second round Thursday is:

Missouri vs. Texas A&M at 1 p.m. EDT.

Arkansas vs. Auburn-South Carolina winner.

Alabama vs. LSU at 7 EDT.

Ole Miss vs. Vandy-Mississippi State winner

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