Tide Basketball Goes To Kentucky

There's a school of thought that the worst example of student-athletes is Kentucky basketball. College has nothing to do with it, many believe. John Calipari brings in a handful of the finest basketball prospects in the nation and uses them for about a year. So much for education.



Alabama Coach Anthony Grant has a much better record than most for having basketball players who are educated. Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, they will probably get schooled by a Kentucky team that starts three freshmen and two sophomores when Bama goes to Lexington Saturday. Bama and the Wildcats will tip off at 11 a.m. CST at Rupp Arena with television coverage by CBS.

The Crimson Tide is coming off a horrible game, one in which the man considered by many to be Bama's best player did not score a point in 31 minutes of action. Tony Mitchell was 0-8 as Alabama's 10-game home winning streak against Southeastern Conference teams ended. The Commodores won by 69-59, but the final margin was deceptively close. Vandy led by as many as 23 late in the second half.

Kentucky, meanwhile, never loses in Rupp, or so it seems. The Wildcats are 18-1 on the season and 4-0 in SEC play and ranked second in the nation. Bama suffered its second consecutive SEC loss and fell to 13-5 overall and 2-2 in conference games.

Grant was not taking questions about Vanderbilt when he met briefly with reporters Friday afternoon. Grant said, "We've moved on. We've got another game in less than 24 hours."

As for that short turn-around time, Grant said "It's the job of the coaches to get our guys prepared."

Kentucky should be well-prepared as it continues its home-stand. The Wildcats defeated Arkansas by 86-63 on Tuesday.

Grant did reveal that Andrew Steele would be ready to play against Kentucky. Steele had just returned to basketball action this month after it was thought his career had ended when he suffered a concussion against Kentucky last year. He had a collision on a Vanderbilt screen and left the game and there was concern for his health.

Kentucky features a player many consider to be the nation's best, freshman Anthony Davis of Chicago, 6-10, 220. He is averaging 13.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.7 blocked shots per game. (Alabama as a TEAM averages 4.6 blocks per game.)

All five Kentucky starters average in double figures. In addition to Davis, Doron Lamb of Queens, N.Y., averages 14 points per game, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Somerdale, N.J., 13.2, Terrence Jones of Portland, Ore., 11.8, and Marques Teague of Indianapolis 10.5.

Junior forward Tony Mitchell and senior post player JaMychal Green lead the Tide in scoring at 13.7 points per game with point guard Trevor Releford at 12.6. They are expected to start along with freshmen wing players Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey in Bama's starting lineup.

Alabama continues on the road next Wednesday at South Carolina. The Tide will have its first home Saturday SEC game on January 28 hosting Arkansas.

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