Well, I guess that is about what it feels like to play against Alabama's football squad. The Tide's basketball program was completely outmatched by the number one team in the nation, and Alabama's fourteen-game home winning streak came to an end.
On the opening play of the game, senior Levi Randolph stole the ball from Kentucky's Aaron Harrison and bolted down the court for a layup and the first two points of the game - sending Coleman Coliseum into an electrifying frenzy of hungry Tide fans. Then everyone remembered that Kentucky is really good at basketball. Ten minutes, some turnovers, and a flurry of three point shots later, Kentucky jumped out to a 21-9 lead. Shannon Hale and Randolph quickly scored five points and Alabama seemed to be poised to crawl back into the game. That is, until Kentucky scored 10 straight points and proceeded to close the half with a 35-17 lead.
The Tide started the second half with even more energy than they started the first, and scored seven straight points before Kentucky finally managed to get on the board four minutes later. A Randolph steal that was finished by Ricky Tarrant brought Kentucky's lead down to 9 points, and Tide fans were primed for a comeback. The Wildcats weathered the storm, and before anyone knew what happened, Kentucky scored 10 straight points with machine-like efficiency - never even considering to look back at their hapless opponents. From there on out, everything was pretty much garbage time stats for both teams. The final buzzer sounded to a score of 70-48.
Retin Obasohan got the start over Ricky Tarrant and his injured toe today, and provided the team with a solid two points and a lot of misplaced effort. As usual, Levi Randolph was the team's leading scorer with 13 points on a 66% shooting outing. He also was aggressive and impactful on defense, with three steals leading to breakaway opportunities.
Rodney Cooper was second on the team with 10 points, including going 2-3 from three point range (and one of those three-pointers was an absolute beauty. I actually thought he completely air-balled the shot it was so smooth). Jimmie Taylor contributed to the extent of two blocks, four fouls, 25% on free throws, and one monster dunk. He had some good plays here and there, but it was definitely not the big man's best day.
Speaking of big men having bad days, Michael Kessens had probably his worst in a Tide uniform. He was credited with five turnovers (and I thought there were more to my untrained eye) and four fouls, and only added four points and a weak defensive effort. Tarrant, the other former transfer, had only five points off the bench, and was 1 of 5 from the three point line. Shannon Hale also added five points, and missed one less shot from the three point line than Tarrant did. He also nabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot. Hale looked a little better tonight overall than he has the last month or so.
Riley Norris was actually the top scorer behind the two seniors, with six points. He was 2 of 3 on all of his shots on the day and grabbed a couple of rebounds. Norris seemed to get more playing time than usual, and was all over the place chasing loose balls.
Kentucky's leading scorer was Devin Booker, who totaled only 13 points. But it was a complete team domination, as the Wildcats had eight (EIGHT) different players score at least 5 points. In fact, the Wildcat's bench outscored Alabama's by a total of 21 points.
Alabama certainly did not lose due to lack of effort, and it definitely was not even close to as bad as the sloppiest game I have seen the Tide play this season. Kentucky is just that good. The box says the Wildcats hit 50% of all of their shots, but it felt more like eighty percent to me. It was a stinging loss in front of a disappointed home crowd, but it was the kind of loss that Coach Grant can find a lot of positives from.