Tide Plays Well, Comes Up Short

There was a big surprise at Rupp Arena in Lexington Saturday. No, the Alabama men's basketball team did not defeat Kentucky. That would have been astounding. The surprise was that the Crimson Tide played an extraordinary game and took the Wildcats to the final moments.

Alabama was coming off back-to-back losses in which the Tide had been almost lackluster. Against Kentucky, Bama fought the good fight against the nation's second ranked team. When it was over, the difference was in free throws as the Wildcats shot a lot more and, to their credit, made them down the stretch.

Bama still ends up with a third consecutive loss in what has been a difficult stretch to start the season, but the Tide should be able to take confidence from Saturday's game in which the Wildcats held on for a 77-71 decision.

Alabama fell to 13-6 overall and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Kentucky, which has never lost in Rupp Arena under Coach John Calipari, improved to 19-1 on the season including a 5-0 conference record. Kentucky has 46 consecutive home victories.

"I thought it was a very good college basketball game today," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant. "You had two teams out there that really battled and fought hard. I thought our guys certainly played with effort and the passion that as a coach you want to see Unfortunately, we weren't able to make the plays down the stretch."

Alabama senior forward JaMychal Green led Alabama with 22 points and 12 rebounds, registering the 23rd double-double of his career, while sophomore guard Trevor Releford had 17 points, all in the second half. Freshman Trevor Lacey had 10 points. Green became the 15th player in Alabama history to notch 1,500 career points and is one of only three active players in the conference to reach that plateau.

Alabama trailed by 37-32 at halftime, but pulled to within two points on six occasions and to within one point twice in the second half. Bama could never grab the lead from the Wildcats, even though Kentucky made just one field goal in the final 6:52 of the game. UK offset the dearth of field goals by making 15 of 18 free throws on its friendly home court.

Terrence Jones led Kentucky with 15 points and was one of six Wildcats in double figures.

Alabama made two more field goals than Kentucky as the Tide hit 24-50 (48 per cent) to Kentucky's 22-51 (43.1 per cent). The Cats did have one more three-point shot, hitting 6-14 to Bama's 5-7. The difference was that Kentucky made 27-40 free throws (67.5 per cent). Alabama had 25 opportunities and made 18 (72 per cent).

Alabama also out-rebounded the Wildcats, 35-31, but Bama had six more turnovers, 14-8.

The Tide did a good job on Kentucky's outstanding freshman, Anthony Davis, considered to be the nation's best player and the upcoming number one draft choice for the NBA. Davis made only 2-10 from the field. He did score 11 points as he made 7-9 free throws and he led the Wildcats with nine rebounds.

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