The Alabama Crimson Tide Basketball team went to Lexington on a hot streak, winning six of their last eight games and scoring 90 or more in five straight. The Kentucky Wildcats stopped that streak with a 76-67 victory, as cold shooting haunted the Tide. Bama falls to 8-7, 1-2 in SEC with the loss and Kentucky improves to 12-3, 3-0 in conference.
Coach Nate Oats started Kira Lewis, John Petty, Herbert Jones, Alex Reese, and Galin Smith to try and counteract the much bigger, inside oriented, Cats. The Tide had a hard time buying a basket early ( and middle, and late, TBH), and the Cats were red hot. Kentucky was wearing the nets out with a lost part of the modern game, mid range jumpers. Despite being 0-6 from three as a team, when Jones slammed home a dunk, the Tide had a 10-8 lead after six minutes.
Jaylen Forbes finally made the Tide’s first long range shot with 8:37 left in the first frame, cutting the lead to 29-24. Somehow Bama kept themselves close, at 37-31 after Petty finally made a three. Kentucky finished the first half 5-6 from deep, after coming into the game at 32% as a team. UK took a 45-35 lead into intermission, shooting 18-32 at the break for 56%. The Cats were 5-7 from deep and 4-6 on free throws. The Tide entered the break shooting 14-44 for 32%, including 3-13 (23%) from deep and 4-5 from the free throw line.
Kentucky built an early 12 point lead in the second half before the Tide picked it up and went on a 9-1 run, cutting the lead to six. Jones was everywhere, making plays, and cut the lead to 59-55 with 7:28 left after an old fashioned three point play. Bama kept fighting and kept the margin from three to six points, with chances to get closer, until just about one minute left. The Cats stretched it out to the final margin with free throws to close the game out.
Bama shot 14-32 for 44% in the second half, including 1-8 from deep and 3-7 from the free throw line. Kentucky cooled to 10-31, 32%, 4-8 from deep, and 7-11 from the line. Overall the Tide was a bad 28-76 (37%) from the field, and awful 4-21 (19%) from the three point line, an equally as bad 7-12 for 58% from the free throw line. UK shot 44% (28-63) for the game, and a sizzling 9-16 (60%) from three, and 7-11-63% from the free throw line.
The Tide outrebounded the much bigger Cats 47-46, had 14 assists, only eight turnovers, blocked six shots, and had four steals. Kentucky committed 14 turnovers, blocked eight shots, and had five steals.
Jones led the team in scoring with 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and added a team high four assists, in a fine all around game. Petty shrugged off a slow start to finish with 16 points and had seven rebounds. Lewis finished with 10 points, led in rebounds with eight, and had three assists. Jones did have to attempt 21 shots, making eight, to score his points. Petty finished 6-15, Lewis 4-11, and Beetle Bolden 2-12, including 0-6 from deep. Those four combined to for 20-59 on the game, while the rest of the team was 8-17. Reese and Jaden Shackelford need more attempts, and Jones and Bolden less, TBH.
The Tide once again gave themselves a chance against a top rate opponent on the road, but still couldn’t get over the hump. Oats needs more players, and more that fit his system. A couple of bigs that have the requisite skill set will be welcome. This year the team is going to win games when they shoot like they are capable. Four for twenty-one from three point range isn’t going to happen often. Live by the three, die by the three, as the saying goes.
Next up is a home game with the undefeated Auburn Tigers (gag). Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT in Coleman is the tip. The game will be televised on ESPN.
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