TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- SeSe Helm scored a team-high 23 points en route to Kentucky's 63-62 thrilling victory over Alabama on Sunday in Coleman Coliseum. It was UK's first win over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa since 1990.
Kentucky (8-6, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) led 26-25 at the half and jumped out to a nine-point lead in the second stanza, 56-47, before Alabama (10-4, 0-1 SEC) began its comeback late in the game. The Tide used two of senior Shondra Johnson's game-high 25 points to pull within three, 63-60, with less than a minute remaining. Alabama was forced to foul, sending senior LaTonya McDole to the line for one and the bonus. McDole missed the front end and it was rebounded by Alabama.
However, the Tide couldn't convert on the other end and was forced to foul again. This time, Helm, who is an 84.9 percent free-throw shooter, stepped up to the line. She also missed the front end of the bonus, but the Cats held on for the win.
"This win was so huge for us," UK coach Bernadette Mattox said. "We needed this win to prove to our kids that we can win the close game. I also can't say enough about SeSe's play today. We fought hard all the way to end and I am very proud of this basketball team."
Following Helm in the scoring column was McDole and Rita Adams with eight points each. The Cats shot 50 percent from the floor compared to UA's 40.4 percent, including a season-low 10 percent from behind the arc.
"Our kids really played great defense tonight," Mattox said. "We held a team that usually shoots 40 percent and hits almost six three-pointers a game to only one "three" today. They really executed the scouting report and played intense defense."
The biggest margin of the game came at the charity stripe. Alabama went 19-of-30 from the free throw line while Kentucky hit 5-of-10.
The Cats have now won four of the last five meetings against Alabama and close in on UA's 13-12 lead in the all-time series. UA is 8-3 when playing in Tuscaloosa with UK's last victory in Coleman Coliseum coming on Dec. 17, 1990 (74-58).
Kentucky will travel to Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday Jan. 10, 2001 to take on nationally-ranked Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. ET.