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Game Recap: Kentucky 77, Alabama 61

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The 8th ranked Kentucky Wildcats came to Tuscaloosa and handed the Tide their second consecutive loss to start SEC play.

Coach Avery Johnson pleads his case to no avail. The officiating was simply awful.
Coach Avery Johnson pleads his case to no avail. The officiating was simply awful.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

An overmatched Crimson Tide team was pounded by the eighth ranked Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 77-61 on Saturday night at Coleman Coliseum. The loss was the Tide's second straight to start SEC play and dropped their record to 9-5 and 0-2 in conference play. The Wildcats improved to 12-3, 2-1 in conference.

This Kentucky team isn't quite up to the talent and depth level of coach John Calipari's last few teams, but are still an elite team, and far above the Tide in talent. Whereas last years national runner up substituted five players at a time, this year's squad doesn't go nearly as deep. In fact, the bench players only logged a combined 36 minutes and scored only three points. This season's biggest recruit, the 6'11" Skal Labissiere out of Haiti, has been a disappointment thus far, and played only four minutes and gathered three fouls including a technical.

In the first half the Tide once again started off slowly, and fell behind by 16 before getting hot late and cutting the halftime deficit to 10 at 38-28. UK shot 13-29 (44%) and 2-7 from three point range, but made 10-13 free throws (77%) in the first half. 'Bama was only 9-23 (39%), 3-11 (27%) from three point range and an awful 7-13 (54%) from the free throw line at the half.

The Tide came out of the locker room and remained hot, cutting the lead to 46-42 when Jimmie Taylor slammed home a missed layup with about 16 minutes remaining in the game. From that point the Wildcats ripped off a 12-2 run to put the game out of reach, with 'Bama never getting closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Kentucky continually ran a two man game with point guard Tyler Ulis penetrating and big man Alex Poythress rolling to the basket for a dunk, or free throws, or both. The inside game led to the 'Cats shooting 15-22 for 68% in the second half, and only 0-2 from beyond the arc. The game was lost on the boards as Kentucky swiped the glass clean to the tune of 43 rebounds to only 25 for the Tide, including a 14-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

Retin Obasohan once again led the scoring parade with 21 points, his third straight 20 point output. Arthur Edwards added 11 and Riley Norris chipped in with 10. Taylor and Donta Hall were the leading rebounders with six each. Michael Kessens, who had played very well the last few games, started but only played seven minutes for some reason. Shannon Hale increased his time to 26 minutes and contributed a 1-9 shooting performance, including 0-6 from three point range.

Poythress was the Cats' big gun, shooting 8-10 from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line to finish with 25 points and seven rebounds. Freshman guard Jamal Murray added 21 and Isaiah Briscoe had 12 points. Ulis was controlled, scoring eight points, but dishing out eight assists.

Obasohan, Edwards and to some extent Norris have been the only consistent performers for the Tide since Dazon Ingram went down. Justin Coleman has been streaky, Taylor can't stay on the floor because of foul trouble, and Hale looks lost. All three need to improve for the Tide to have a chance to compete.

The schedule doesn't get any easier as the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks come to town Wednesday night for an 8p.m. affair that will be televised on the SEC Network. After that are trips to Vanderbilt and Auburn, followed by LSU and Tennessee at home, and a return game at South Carolina. An 0-8 start in SEC play is a definite possibility. The road games at Vandy and at Auburn maybe the best shots at wins in this stretch.

Buckle Up, strap in tight, it is going to be a bumpy ride for a while. RTR