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LSU Tigers 68, Alabama Crimson Tide 56: ATLast

The Tigers get a nice win. Nice won't cut it at this point. But the positives gleaned from this easy victory need to carry over against Kentucky on Friday. Nice will matter then.

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

This was a game for the seniors...

And Tim Quarterman?

Shavon Coleman took advantage of some open corner 3s, Andre Stringer nailed a dagger and LSU's defense clamped down on Trevor Releford and the Bama offense. Nothing in that sentence is particularly shocking. Even the defense, which has been so porous down the stretch, has the size and athleticism to shut down a one-horse offense.

But Tim Quarterman? The same Tim Quarterman who had seven points in the previous nine games combined? Yup, and he provided a first-half spark and LSU brought the effort everywhere to pile it on during a second-half blitz.

There were 19 assists, a huge rebounding edge and an 11-22 night beyond the arc to complement Q's 12 points, a career high. Jordan Mickey was a point shy of a double-double while the Tigers put four more guys in double figures and shot 50 percent from the field. It was efficiency across the board and LSU's cleanest game since January.

It's a good time for the team to start looking like the one we all expected to see early on in the season, because Kentucky is up next. LSU might need to win just to reach the NIT. A win isn't even particularly unlikely, as the Tigers were this close to sweeping UK in the regular season. Add in the Wildcats' struggles of late, and LSU could be the wild card.

One thing that could be an issue is fatigue. LSU waited just a few minutes too late to put Alabama away. With Malik Morgan out and only seven guys in the rotation, playing back-to-back games might be an issue. The Tigers needed to close out Bama early in the second half. While this might seem like nitpicking, it's a huge concern in a tournament format.

But yes, it absolutely is nitpicking. Alabama came in having won three of its last five games, including wins over Missouri and Arkansas. LSU completely shut down an elite scorer in Releford and never led by less than eight points in the final 17 minutes. More importantly, there was balance on offense after a dismal showing against Georgia.

With Kentucky being a bit loose defensively, the ability for Quarterman to score or Coleman to drain 3s or Jarell Martin to finish at the rim will complement JOB and Mickey's inside punch. As if LSU didn't have enough confidence facing Kentucky, this game should only confirm what we suspected. The Tigers are still good enough to play with the SEC big boys. Friday, LSU's season rides on doing it.