Can Tigers clinch tonight? The LSU men’s basketball team clinched a share of its second Southeastern Conference regular-season championship in four years Tuesday night with an 81-65 victory over Florida. The Tigers can turn their attention to tonight’s SEC East showdown between Kentucky and South Carolina at Columbia, S.C. — a game that features the only teams with a mathematical chance of catching LSU. The Tigers (24-4, 12-1) have a 3 1/2-game lead over the Gamecocks (19-6, 8-4) and the Wildcats (19-8, 8-4). LSU has three games remaining: at Kentucky on Saturday, at home against Vanderbilt on March 4, and at Auburn on March 7. LSU holds the tiebreaker against South Carolina as a result of its 85-68 victory on Jan. 18 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Meanwhile, ESPN the Magazine profiles LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell, who has seen it all in four seasons: starting in a Final Four, a member of first- and last-place SEC teams, the departure of three fellow forwards to the NBA and three different head coaches. Just think how it will feel if Mitchell is back next year. To read the profile, click here.
Goodbye to one of the good guys: Warrick Dunn has been released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a season after the former Catholic High standout returned to the team that drafted him 12 years ago. Dunn, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, last year became the sixth player in NFL history to record more than 10,000 rushing yards and 500 receptions. Along with his success on the field as a running back with the Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons, Dunn has been honored for his community service efforts, which include annually building homes for single families in Baton Rouge, Tampa and Atlanta. It isn’t known what will happen to Dunn, who was released for the second time in two years. The Bucs released four other key veterans today, linebacker Derrick Brooks, who made the Pro Bowl 11 times, wide receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard, and linebacker Cato June.
Woods returns: A focused Tiger Woods played his first three holes of competition since June, going 2-up on Australia’s Brendan Jones today at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz. A huge gallery cheered, and one spectator shouted “You are back!” as an almost expressionless Woods hit his first drive after a 253-day layoff right down the fairway. As he hit his approach shot close to the second hole, Woods gave a much-abridged version of his trademark fist pump. It was a day that served as a reminder of how quickly Match Play can go. Woods is the defending champion at Match Play, but a year ago he had to play the final five holes in 5 under par simply to get out of the first round. He is the No. 1 seed, which means very little in 18 holes of match play. Woods has not played since winning the U.S. Open on June 16 in a playoff over Rocco Mediate. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee a week later, making this the longest break from golf in his career. He is a three-time winner of Match Play, losing only once in the first round, seven years ago to Peter O’Malley of Australia. To follow ESPN.com’s blog of Woods’ first-round match, click here.