‘Cats Finish Off Tide Upset Hopes

You don't win many SEC games when the visiting team closes the game on a 16-6 run and you turn the ball over 14 times in the second half. Alabama played good on defense and, overall, probably better than most expected against visiting Kentucky. But as Crimson Tide Football Coach Nick Saban preachers, you have to finish in order to be successful.

Such was the case Saturday at Coleman Coliseum when Alabama lost a six-point halftime lead and fell 61-51 to Kentucky before a sellout crowd of 15,316. The game was tied at 45 with six minutes to go when the Cats took the lead for good on a Patrick Patterson lay-up and never backed down.

"Our team did a great job of defending, and not letting them have a great shot early in the clock" said Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie. Alabama shooting wasn't much to fear anyway. While Kentucky defense certainly gets credit for Bama's offensive woes, the Tide didn't have much of a chance shooting 29.3 per cent from the field.

"We don't want Patrick (Patterson) on the sideline, believe me," he added, referring to the foul trouble his star forward had that limited him to 27 minutes.

Junior Perry Stevenson stepped in and scored 16 with a dozen points while Patterson was held to six points, five rebounds.

"That's just being blue-collar," Stevenson said "We get that from our coach. "

Playing with four guards made it easy, because those guys are hard to box out and I was able to just fly in there and get rebounds."

Bama had only one double-digit scorer, freshman JaMychal Green, who scored 15 and grabbed five boards. UK out-rebounded the Tide, 42-36. The game featured nine lead changes and three ties.

"I thought our guys played really tough. Perry (Stevenson) was the best he's ever been at Kentucky, at least since I‘ve been there," said Billy Gillispie. "His compadre (Patterson) was sitting on the bench in foul trouble, and I thought he really stepped up."

Jodie Meeks led all scorers with 27 points, as he usually does, and the junior grabbed nine caroms. Alonzo Gee (eight points) and Yamene Coleman led Bama with six rebounds each. Senario Hillman had nine points, but a game-high six turnovers. Bama turned the ball over 19 times, while the Cats gave it away 23 times. UK led 6-0 in fast break points.

Said Tide Coach Mark Gottfried, "We had enough chances. It was one of those days we couldn't put it in the hole. We didn't make enough shots, we didn't take enough good shots, and we turned it over 14 times in the second half."

Tide point guard Mikhail Torrance, coming off a trio of games above 20 points, didn't scratch. That's right. Zero points in 24 minutes. He was 0-8 from the field, including 0-4 on three-point tries.

"He had some pretty good looks, but just seemed to have one of those days today," said Gottfried. "

You're not going to have an all-star performance every night," said Green.

Bama led 25-19 at the half after Anthony Brock, now the back-up point guard, nailed a three-pointer as time expired. It sounds funny to say, but a late 4-0 run in the first half of a defensive game combined with Brock's heroics led to the six-point advantage. Meeks had 11 points and Gee eight at the break.

Bama took an early 6-0 lead on a Hillman dunk, but a Meeks three-pointer put the Cats on top for the first time at the 12:20 mark. A Hillman trey gave the Tide the lead back again as part of four lead changes in the first 20 minutes.

The Tide fell to 12-7 (2-3). Bama will travel to Arkansas Wednesday night for a 7:00 p.m. tip on Raycom-TV.

The win marked the second time this year that Kentucky was held under 20 points in the first half and rallied to win. On Nov. 29, the Wildcats were trailing West Virginia 26-16 at the half in the Las Vegas Invitationals. UK came back to beat the Mountaineers, 54-43.

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