Trip To Kentucky Could Be Tough

Alabama's men's basketball team has been losing games it had chances to win. Three Southeastern Conference games have been lost by one point. Last Saturday the Crimson Tide blew a 23-point lead in the second half to lose. Bama is frustrated.

Unfortunately, Alabama isn't expected to be able to take out its frustration on its next opponent. The Crimson Tide goes to Lexington Tuesday to take on the once-beaten Kentucky Wildcats. Tipoff at Rupp Arena is at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. central time) with television coverage by ESPNU.

Alabama has fallen to 13-10 overall and 3-6 in Southeastern Conference games. Kentucky, ranked among the nation's top teams and one of the favorites to win this year's national championship, is 22-1 overall and 7-1 in SEC games. Kentucky is 14-0 in home games. The Wildcats have won their home league games by an average of 15.5 points.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said Monday that Kentucky "is a very tough opponent regardless of the situation."

The Crimson Tide has had the lead at halftime in all six of the SEC games it has lost. That could be an indication of Bama's lack of depth. Playing Kentucky is not recommended for teams that lack anything. Every time the Wildcats take to the court they will dress out more former McDonald's All-America high school players than Alabama has had in its entire history of basketball. No wonder the Cats hold a 98-35 all-time lead against Alabama.

There is nothing Grant can do about Kentucky having more talent. "Our focus is on our basketball team and continuing to do the things that we've talked about all year – getting an understanding of what it takes to win, what we've got to do and how we should approach each game and the preparation that's involved in each game so that we put ourselves in the best situation to play the best we can and be successful," he said. "For us it's just a matter of going in and controlling the things that we can control–how hard we play, how well we compete and the attention to the details that are involved in what allows us to have a chance. I think right now it's more about us than it is about anything else."

Asked if he thought his team was experiencing a "hangover," Grant could joke, "You mean from a Super Bowl party?" The question was whether there was a hangover from the close losses.

Grant said, "Our guys come every day, they listen, and we try to keep the same approach in terms of understanding the process and getting better. I think our guys understand where we want the program going and what we need to try to do to make it happen."

Grant knows why Kentucky is already that program. "They're extremely talented, a very talented team and a very deep team," the Tide coach said. "Coach Calipari (Kentucky Coach John Calipari) has done a great job of blending the talent that he has. He's got them playing extremely hard and they appear to be playing together. Anytime you do that it's a great recipe when you have the talent that he has. It makes for an awfully good team, which they are."

Two of Kentucky's star players, both freshmen, are DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, both from Alabama. Grant was not at Bama to have an opportunity to recruit those players. He was asked about his recruiting philosophy insofar as in-state targets.

He said he believes that each player has to find the right situation. "Certainly it's important to us to recruit the best student-athletes within our state and our region," he said. And, he added, "We're going to take a look nationally to make sure we get our program where it needs to be."

Grant said he has been pleased with what he has seen of high school basketball in Alabama.

BamaMag Top Stories