Bama First Team Eliminated in Atlanta

For the second year in a row, Alabama went one-and-done in the Southeastern Conference tournament, falling to Kentucky 79-67 in Atlanta on Thursday and ending its season, save for the possibility of appearing in the National Invitational Tournament.

Kentucky finished the first half with one of those uncanny runs Alabama opponents have become accustomed to, outscoring Alabama by a margin of 24-6 in the last nine and a half minutes of the first half. Kentucky scored the final 11 points of the half on three 3-pointers – two by Ramel Bradley and one by Jodie Meeks - and a layup by Joe Crawford giving them a 35-27 lead at the break.

Towards the midway point in the second half, back-to-back three pointers by Ramel Bradley followed by two quick field goals from Joe Crawford went unanswered by Alabama (which committed three consecutive turnovers during the span) gave the Wildcats a 14 point lead with 9:30 to play in the game.

Alabama, which got limited minutes from injured Ron Steele, had cut the score to within a bucket once during the early portions of the second half before Kentucky quickly pulled away. The Bama turnovers and Kentucky baskets came immediately after Steele went to the bench for the final time.

"I felt pretty good coming in but I think there might have been a play where I came down on it funny," Steele said.

In the first half, Alabama turned it over eight times which led to 10 Kentucky points. The Wildcats played well, and was too much for Alabama in the inside and on the outside.

"I thought our guys competed really hard," Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said. "We had too man turnovers in the first half, and a few defensive breakdowns and poor free throw shooting, but Meeks, Bradley and (Randolph) Morris really hurt us. Kentucky played well and deserved to win the game.

Kentucky post man Morris finished (along with Ramel Bradley) as Kentucky's leading scorer. He had 17 points and 11 rebounds and connected on several tough jump shots.

"He capitalized on offense when we didn't get to him with the double team quick enough," Alabama center Jermareo Davidson said. "When we did get there he was able to pass out of it."

And often to an open Kentucky jump shooter. The Wildcats took 22 attempts from three point range, connecting on nine. They outrebounded Alabama 34-26 (21-11 in the second half when Alabama employed its zone defense)

Richard Hendrix did battle with Kentucky almost single-handedly in the second half. He finished with 21 points to lead Alabama, with all but four coming in the second half. "We fought hard all the way to the end," Hendrix said. "But they answered back with good runs. I thought our toughness was there but they were just better."

Jermareo Davidson, who was deemed questionable for the game because of a bad back, played 34 minutes, scoring 12 points and coming up with 7 rebounds.

Alonzo Gee scored 15 points for Alabama, while junior Mykal Riley had 12.

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