Normally, this would be a thread to celebrate a huge victory over a very tough opponent. But right now, the Big Blue Nation is very much concerned about two ankle turns at the bitter end of this game, one by DeAndre Liggins and one that looks more severe by Doron Lamb, even though Lamb turned his on a cut which looked a lot less scary than Liggins, who hurt his on a very awkward landing.
Tough game by the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide have been very good defensively all year, but this time they ran into a white-hot Kentucky team, and the Wildcats just could not be contained. Alabama's tendency to shoot the ball poorly from the perimeter came back to haunt them, and they got behind in a big way in the middle of the second half, making a comeback from the scoring-challenged Tide just too tall an order. Congrats to the Tide on a great season, and this Wildcat fan hopes that the NCAA selection committee will not deny Alabama a place in the field of 68.
Leaving aside the troubling late injuries, Kentucky played one of their most complete games of the season. Kentucky defended well at every position with the exception of Darius Miller in the first half, and Kentucky shot a devastating 45% from the arc, 9-20. That many made three-pointers on that few attempts will win almost every game, especially when you have a big man like Josh Harrellson putting up double-doubles.Superlatives:
- This time Josh Harrellson doesn't have to share the game ball with anybody, although I strongly considered DeAndre Liggins. But no. Game ball to Josh with 14 points, 10 rebounds (4 offensive) 1 assist, 1 steal, a block and a turnover.
- Brandon Knight had 12 points and 7 assists with only 2 turnovers. More importantly, Knight has become the leader of this team on the floor, finally. It showed today as much in his solid defense as his outstanding ballhandling, and the dagger threes at the end.
- DeAndre Liggins was outstanding offensively, and gave his usual stellar effort on defense. There was no hint of excessive acting out, and Liggins was a nightmare for the Tide, scoring 14 points on 5-6 shooting and collecting 9 rebounds, 2 offensive, 3 assists and only 1 turnover.
- Doron Lamb was great, and did what he always does -- make shots. I desperately hope he is healthy enough to play tomorrow, but if not, I say rest him until the second round of the NCAA tournament if possible, depending on the seriousness of the sprain.
- Darius Miller was pretty good today, but he struggled with the very athletic Tony Mitchell on defense. Still, he did some good things, contributed 10 points and 4 rebounds. A solid outing, but a step down from his recent play.
- Terrence Jones struggled again today in pretty much every way. He just could not make shots inside, and didn't rebound that well. But he worked hard on defense, and I appreciate that.
Overall, this was a scary game for Kentucky, mostly because of the injuries. When Kentucky shoots like this, they are almost impossible to beat, especially when they defend well. Not only that, Kentucky once again took terrific care of the basketball with very few turnovers. This is a team that does not beat itself by sharing the ball with the opponent, at least.
I really thought Kentucky's transition defense was wanting today, as Alabama seemed to get a lot of good looks in transition and Kentucky seemed slow getting back to me. But it's hard to be critical of a 14-point win that really wasn't that close. Great game, and bring on ... whoever, the Florida Gators or the Vanderbilt Commodores.
You have to love the way Kentucky played today, but tomorrow they are likely to play banged up for the first time all year. The 'Cats are now in the conversation for a 3 seed. Let's hope they still have something left for tomorrow.