Kentucky was host to Alabama in what many considered a must win game and was able to execute down the stretch and end the four-game losing streak with an 81-71 win.
Right from the tip the crowd was into the game and the player fed off that energy. Kentucky was in a battle with the Tide for the entire half with both team exchanging the lead, but the Cats were up 15-13 with just under 12 minutes left.
Kentucky would go on to score the most point in the first half since the Louisville game and had a 39-34 lead at the halftime break.
Out of the break Kentucky allowed Bama to get right back into the game and take a 48-47 lead with 14 minutes to play. Bama had a 59-58 with 8 minutes left and after a tip in by Knox to put the Cats up, they never lost the lead again on their way to a big win when they desperately needed it.
Thoughts on the game
Jarred Vanderbilt was huge
Vanderbilt missed some easy shots around the rim during the game but down the stretch when Kentucky needed it most he knocked them down. He finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. He also played some good defense and provided the type of play we need out of him. If Vanderbilt is making an impact on offense in addition to be a force on the boards, this Kentucky team takes a big step forward.
PJ Washington was an inside presence
Washington put up 16 points on 5/9 shooting and grabbed 5 boards. He was huge in the second half and gave the Cats some much needed points in the paint and played solid defense down low. Getting Washington back into his groove was critical for Kentucky to end its four-game losing streak.
Quade Green made big plays on both ends
Not only did Green have a good offensive performance scoring 12 points on 5/6 shooting and 4 assists but he also played great defense in the second half on Collin Sexton. Alabama had Sexton moving around off ball a lot trying to get him shots, but Green was doing a great job of denying him those opportunities.
Kentucky dominated the glass
With the size advantage Kentucky should be able to control the glass and that’s exactly what they did. They won the rebound battle 44-27 and had 20 offensive rebounds that turned into 20 second chance points.
Now that the losing streak is over the Cats can start getting in their groove. This was a big win for tournament purposes and goes a long way into securing a spot.
Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 18-9 overall, 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 17-10 overall and 8-6 in the SEC.
- Kentucky leads the series 111-37, including 57-10 in Lexington.
- UK has won nine in a row vs. Alabama.
- Next for the Wildcats: Kentucky travels to Arkansas Tuesday with tipoff slated for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the third time this season. UK is 2-1 with this lineup.
- Richards scored Kentucky’s first four points with two dunks.
- He’s scored Kentucky’s first points of the game nine times, tied for the team lead.
- He’s started a game with a dunk six times this year.
- Quade Green hit a made 3 with 9:28 to play, extending UK’s streak of 1,040 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
- UK’s largest lead was five points when Diallo hit a layup with three seconds remaining in the half.
- Kentucky’s 39 points in the first half was its most before halftime since scoring 41 vs. Louisville, which UK beat 90-61.
In the Second Half
- Nick Richards scored the first two points of the half with a layup at the 19:42 mark, giving UK a seven-point lead, its largest since winning at West Virginia on Jan. 27.
- Alabama never led by more than three, and its last lead was 59-58 with 8:34 to play.
- UK opened up its largest lead, 11 points, with 44 seconds to play in the second half.
- UK had not led by more than seven since the win at West Virginia on Jan. 27.
- UK led by more than 10 points for the first time since defeated Mississippi State on Jan. 23.
- Kentucky snapped its first four-game losing streak since the end of the 2008-09 regular season. It was Calipari’s first four-game losing streak since Memphis lost four in a row to end the 2004-05 regular season.
- UK is 43-12 in “bounce back” games under Calipari following a loss.
- The Wildcats have only lost back-to-back games 12 times during the Calipari era with three of those losses having come during the just lapsed four-game losing streak.
- Kentucky won rebounding 44-27, and offensive rebounding 20-9.
- UK’s offensive rebounds were one outside the top 10 for most of the Calipari era.
- Alabama’s 27 rebounds were tied for the second fewest by a UK opponent this year.
- UK’s plus-17 rebounding margin was its highest in SEC play. The only higher rebounding margin UK had this year was plus-23 in two straight games against Troy and Fort Wayne in November.
- Kentucky scored 39 bench points, just under half of UK’s total for the game.
- UK won bench points 39-19. UK is 8-8 this season and 3-6 in the SEC when leading bench points.
- UK also won points in the paint 40-32
- UK is 13-7 overall, and 5-6 in the SEC with more points in the paint this year.
- Five Wildcats scored in double figures for the first time since Nov. 26 vs. UIC.
- Quade Green came off the bench to score 12 points and dish four assists.
- He’s scored 10 or more in 12 games this year, two of the last four and three of the last six.
- Nick Richards scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.
- He reached double figures for the seventh time this year, but the first time since scoring 10 vs. Vanderbilt on Jan. 30
- Kevin Knox scored 13 points, all in the second half.
- Scoreless in the first 26:38 of the game, he proceeded to score 11 of Kentucky’s next 13 points between the 13:22 and 8:17 marks in the second half.
- He also grabbed five rebounds.
- PJ Washington came off the bench to score 16 points and grab five rebounds.
- He’s scored in double figures in two straight after not reaching that threshold since playing Mississippi State on Jan. 23.
- Jarred Vanderbilt scored a career high 11 points in this the 10th game he’s played.
- He came up a rebound shy of a double-double.
- Vanderbilt has 69 rebounds in 151 minutes this season.
Now lets celebrate this much needed win!