“You have to give Kentucky credit. They played really well tonight,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “They shot almost 60 percent from the field and I feel we have a pretty good defensive team. It seemed like they hit all their open shots.”
Playing without its second-leading scorer and top scorer in SEC play Ricky Tarrant, who sat out due to a lower leg injury, Alabama leaned on Shannon Hale, who contributed a team-high 13 points for the Crimson Tide. Levi Randolph added 12 points, while Retin Obasohan put up 11 to round out the double-digit efforts for the Tide.
Kentucky (21-0, 8-0) jumped out to a big lead to begin the game, thanks in large part to 10 first-half turnovers for the Crimson Tide. As a result, Kentucky held a 17-1 advantage in points off turnovers and took a 37-24 lead into the locker room.
The Tide battled tough in the second half, as Kentucky outscored Alabama by just two points, 33-31, over the final 20 minutes, but never could get the lead cut to single digits.
“I thought the first 10 minutes of the game proved to be the difference,” Grant said. “I think we had something like nine turnovers and they shot around 75 percent from the field to start the game. We were then able to get some stops and get ourselves going offensively. After that, I think it was a pretty evenly played game.
“There are some things we can build off of from a team standpoint. We are eight games in and there is a lot of basketball left to be played. We’ll take this game and try and learn from it.”
The Wildcats had four players reach double-figures, including a pair of 12-point performances from Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Stein-Cauley. The Kentucky frontcourt duo combined to score 24 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.