Alabama went to Nashville knowing they would need win the SEC Tournament to hear their name called on the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday. To make matters worse they would have to do it in the SEC Tournament's version of the group of death, otherwise known as the Kentucky bracket. The 'Cats had already blown this team away twice in the regular season but Thursday nights blazing hot shooting performance against Ole Miss gave Tide fans and players hopes that they could ride their hot shooters to a massive upset inside Bridgestone Arena to advance to semifinal Saturday in Nashville.
Things started pretty shaky for Alabama on the first few possessions as Kentucky dominated the offensive glass, getting four or five shots per trip in some instances. After surviving the first minutes the Tide regrouped to give John Calipari's club a serious test early in the first half. Graduate transfer Arthur Edwards picked up where he left off Thursday night, scoring 8 of the first 12 Alabama points to give the Crimson Tide a 12-10 lead with 11:42 remaining in the first half that would be the only time the heavily favored Wildcats would trail night. Kentucky couldn't distance themselves until All SEC 1st teamer Retin Obasohan picked up his 2nd foul (both of which were horrendous offensive foul calls) around the 8 minute mark. For the most part it was all big blue for the rest of the half and all in all i'm sure Avery Johnson was glad to only be trailing by 10 at the half.
After having a bad 1st half due to foul trouble for the second straight night, Obasohan would come out of the locker room hot once again Friday. Retin and company appeared to have momentum on their side, down 7 with around 15 minutes to go in the game when three straight questionable went the way of Kentucky (shocker, I know) and shifted the momentum and the game back to the "Cats. Honestly though it wouldn;t have mattered because when UK plays the way they did tonight there is no one in America capable of beating them. They would finish with a season high 13 three pointers made as a team and Alabama killer Alex Poythress continued to haunt our dreams, scoring 20 points tonight after previously going off for 25 in the first meeting in Tuscaloosa this year. The usual suspects Jamal Murray and SEC player of the year Tyler Ulis predictably got theirs as well, with Murray finishing with 23 and Ulis with 17.
Now Alabama awaits a likely invitation to the NIT to finish off Avery Johnson's inaugural season while Kentucky marches forward towards an SEC Tournament Championship and another high seed in the NCAA Tournament. One thing is for sure after tonight, 'Bama has a long way to go before it is on the Wildcats level and these next few weeks in the NIT could be pivotal in making up some of that ground. So when the Tide embarks on their postseason run I advise you to tune in and Buckle Up.