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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2005
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Tide
continues
to roll

Alabama near perfect in
whipping South Carolina

By Gentry Estes
DAILY Sports Writer

gestes@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Twelve other head coaches this season have filled the chair Dave Odom sunk into Saturday afternoon.

South Carolina forward Carlos Powell, left, attempts to shoot over Alabama reserve forward Jean Felix in Alabama's 19-point victory Saturday at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.
AP Photos by Jason Getz
South Carolina forward Carlos Powell, left, attempts to shoot over Alabama reserve forward Jean Felix in Alabama's 19-point victory Saturday at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.
In the past four months, South Carolina has visited ranked foes at Kansas, Pittsburgh, Kentucky and Mississippi State. Yet Odom claimed his team hadn't experienced anything like this.

"We did all the things you want to do," Odom said. "On this particular day, they played better against us than any team we've played this year."

South Carolina — fresh off a win over third-ranked Kentucky — was no match for No. 16 Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. After a slow start, the Crimson Tide's stars turned on the scopes after halftime and shot the Gamecocks out of town with an 87-68 defeat to make it 13-0 at home this season.

All but three of those wins have been by at least 10 points.

"You're supposed to hit shots at home," said guard Earnest Shelton, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. "The games at home mean a little bit more. You don't want anybody to come into your gym and get away."

Alabama (21-4, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) drilled its first five 3-point attempts in the second half and finished 13-of-27 (48.1 percent) from long distance to score more points than anyone this season against South Carolina (14-9, 6-6).

The Tide managed such a feat despite a first half that ended with sharpshooters Shelton and Kennedy Winston combining to go 0-for-7 from 3-point range and totaling only six points.

Shelton didn't sink his first bucket until the final second of the first half.

"Not one time did the coaches tell me to stop shooting," Shelton said.

Said Tide coach Mark Gottfried: "You just know at some point in time, (Shelton) is going to get going. Kennedy, as well."

After halftime, Shelton drilled his first two 3-pointers. Winston added two more in the span of 30 seconds. Then Shelton added another and Evan Brock dunked to complete a 19-2 run, bringing a 36-28 lead to 55-30 in fewer than five minutes.

The crowd roared, and the lead hit 30 points before the onslaught subsided.

"We did what we were supposed to do," Odom said. "We didn't look bad in terms of turning the ball over. We looked bad in terms of being helpless."

By the time Alabama's starters received standing ovations from the packed house of 15,316, Winston finished with a game-high 19 points. Chuck Davis added 18, eight of them coming from the foul stripe.

Point guard Ronald Steele sank all three of his 3-point attempts to finish with nine points and nine assists.

In all, Alabama posted 22 team assists on 28 total buckets.

"That's amazing," Gottfried said.

As lopsided as the contest got, it wanted that way early. While Shelton and Winston struggled to score, Alabama relied on bench players Jean Felix and Justin Jonus to hit critical 3-pointers to keep the Tide in front.

Though the Gamecocks never led, they got within 24-23 before Felix drilled hit his first 3-pointer. He added another less than a minute later as Alabama went on a quick 12-2 spurt to close the first half.

"They smelled blood at halftime," Odom said.

With the victory, Alabama maintained its two-game lead in the SEC West over LSU heading into Tuesday night's showdown in Baton Rouge, La. After that, the Tide welcomes SEC overall leader Kentucky on Saturday to close a make-or-break week for Alabama's league title hopes

"Our destiny is in our hands," Shelton said. "If we win out, we're probably going to win the SEC championship."

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