The Auburn game can’t get here soon enough. That is not to say that Alabama can beat Auburn when the Tigers come to Coleman Coliseum Saturday, but the Crimson Tide should have a better chance than it had in Lexington Tuesday.
For the second time this year, Kentucky handed Alabama a brutal defeat. The Wildcats were able to keep all but one Crimson Tide shooter in check, while ripping the Bama defense and dominating Alabama in rebounding. Kentucky was a 78-53 winner over the Tide in Rupp Arena Tuesday night.
Alabama’s second consecutive loss dropped the Tide to 16-11 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference games. Kentucky, which leads the SEC with an 11-4 record, improved to 21-7 with its 36th consecutive win on its home court. Earlier this year Kentucky defeated Alabama 77-61 in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama returns home to take on Auburn at 4 p.m. CST Saturday. The game is sold out, but will be televised on the SEC Network. The Tigers took the first game this season in Auburn, 83-77.
The only bright spot for Alabama was Retin Obasohan. The senior guard finished with a game-high 29 points (55 per cent of Bama’s total as his teammates had only 24) on 9-13 field goal shooting. He was also 10-12 at the free throw line. It was his 12th game scoring 20 or more points this season.
Kentucky used two runs to build a big lead. Over the last nine minutes of the first half, the Wildcats used a 16-2 run to turn a 17-15 contest into a 33-17 lead. Obasohan ended the half with a buzzer-beating layup and had 15 points at the break. Midway through the second half, Kentucky used an 11-1 run over three minutes to push the score to 55-33 with 11:03 to play. Alabama would never get closer than 14 points after that.
The Tide shot just 26 per cent from the field in the first half and was whistled for 14 fouls. Alabama finished the game 17-of-48 (35 per cent) from the field. Kentucky went to the free throw line 28 times, where the Cats scored 22 points.
Alabama lost the rebounding battle 41-29 and was outscored 40-22 in the paint. The Tide also turned the ball over a dozen times. The Wildcats scored on 60 per cent of their possessions while holding Alabama to just 35 per cent.
Jamal Murray led Kentucky with 23 points. Tyler Ulis added 19 and dished out 10 assists. Marcus Lee had a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Tide was particularly cold from the field in the first half, making only six of its 23 attempts. The Wildcats finished the opening 20 minutes 11-for-29, adding 10 points from the foul line. Alabama held an early 7-5 lead, but would go nearly eight minutes without a field goal. After sophomore Riley Norris drained a three-pointer to end the drought, the Tide was held without a made baskets for another eight minutes. The Wildcats built a 16-point margin in the final minute of the half before back-to-back layups by sophomore Justin Coleman and Obasohan trimmed the deficit to 33-21 at the break.
The two teams played even in the opening minutes of the second half before Kentucky pulled away. Alabama shot better in the half, finishing 11-of-25 from the floor. However, the Wildcats shot a blistering 16-30 (53.3 per cent) in the period coupled with 12-15 on free throws.