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Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2005 7:16 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(17) Alabama 87, South Carolina 68

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- South Carolina beat a ranked opponent for the first time on Tuesday. No. 17 Alabama was in no mood to be victim number two.

Kennedy Winston scored 19 points and Chuck Davis chipped in 18 as the Crimson Tide cruised to an 87-68 victory over the Gamecocks in a Southeastern Conference matchup.

South Carolina knocked off Kentucky, 73-61, on Tuesday but was able to hang around in this one for just 17 minutes.

With a 24-23 lead with 3:40 left in the half, the Crimson Tide went on a 12-2 run to take a 36-25 lead at the break. Jean Felix scored eight of his nine points in the spurt, including a pair of 3-pointers.

"We really didn't change anything (in the second half), we just sort of got some bad bounces in the first half," Davis said.

Alabama (21-4, 10-2 SEC West) came out hot in the second half, hitting eight of its first nine shots to extend the lead to 55-30 with 14:39 to play. Earnest Shelton, who scored 16 points, had three baskets in the run and Winston drained a pair of 3-pointers.

"We were beaten by the best team we've played this year," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "Alabama today played better against us than anyone this year."

Earnest Shelton hit four 3-pointers for Alabama, which was 13-of-27 from the arc and had 22 assists on 28 baskets.

The Crimson Tide lead LSU by two games in the SEC West and take on the Tigers and Kentucky in the next week.

"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."

Carlos Powell and Josh Gonner each scored 15 points for South Carolina (14-9, 6-6 East).

"They are a great team with a great coach," Powell said. "They have a lot of starters back from last year that know how to play. They capitalized on our mistakes."

"I'm proud of our team. They kept playing until the very end," Odom said. "I think we can get something from that."


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