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4 more thoughts & postgame notes from Kentucky’s win over Alabama

The Cats avenge their earlier loss to the Tide and advance to the semifinals

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Kentucky vs Alabama Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats kicked off their SEC Tournament run with a matchup with against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Right out of the gate, you could tell that the Cats were ready to play as the game got off to a fast start, but it was the Cats with the early 9-6 lead.

The Tide would tie the game at nine, but it was the Cats that went on a 10-0 in under a minute to make it 19-9.

Kentucky would build up a fifteen-point lead 26-11 but Alabama wasn’t going to go away, as they fight for their NCAA Tournament lives.

Alabama would make a run to cut it to 27-33 but the Cats would close the half strong and get it back to double digits and head to the break with a 39-29 lead.

After the break, the Cats came out and took care of business.

The Cats built up a 13 point lead, (53-40) at the under 12 media timeout.

The Tide wouldn’t quit fighting, as they didn’t let the Cats build up a huge lead throughout most of the half.

But as the game was coming down the stretch, the Cats executed to perfection and was able to blow this one open as they roll to a 73-55 win and advance to the semifinals.

Thoughts on the game

Welcome back Reid Travis

For the first time since going down against Missouri, Travis returned to action for the SEC Tournament and immediately made an impact.

His initial impact was made on the defensive end as he was playing great interior defense and blocking shots.

He would eventually get a feel offensively and finish with eight points on 4/6 shooting, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

This team went 4-1 in the games without Travis, but it was obvious that they missed him, and it was a big relief to get him back in this one.

Postseason Tyler Herro is still a bucket

Herro is seeing his draft stock continue to rise as he continues to impact the game in a number of ways. He is defending at a high level and doing more than just being a shooter.

In this one he had 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. He couldn’t be stopped and did it all throughout the game.

We just need to accept that Herro is going to be a one and done and first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s just too talented for a team to not promise him a first-round selection, so we should enjoy Herro while Kentucky still has him.

The good news is if Herro continues to play at such a high level, this team will make a deep run in March, making it easier to wave goodbye as he comes a pro.

Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery showed growth

While Travis was out, I held onto the belief that extended minutes for both Richards and Montgomery would benefit this team once he returned. Well, we saw that growth in this one.

Richards finished with nine points, three rebounds, and a block. He gave the Cats very solid minutes playing solid defense and scoring when he had the chance.

Montgomery finished with two points, two rebounds, two assists, and a block. He also played solid minutes and stepped up on the defensive end.

Both guys showed improvements and look more comfortable playing shorter bursts of minutes instead of starter minutes. Both guys are important for our run and they stepped up in this one.

Immanuel Quickley was outstanding

In recent weeks, Quickley has really stepped up his game and is starting to put it all together.

In this one he had 12 points on 4/4 shooting and a rebound. He had a big impact on the game and if he keeps shooting the ball like he has in recent weeks, it will be hard to keep him off the floor.

With his high level of play and Ashton Hagans running the offense, this one two punch of point guards can be scary for opponents.

With the win, the Cats advance to the semifinals and will play the winner of Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 27-5 overall and has won three in a row. Alabama is 18-15.
  • Kentucky leads the series 113-38. In the regular season, Alabama won 77-75 in Tuscaloosa.
  • Kentucky advances to the SEC Tournament semifinals vs. Tennessee or Mississippi State. Saturday’s semi is at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. CDT in Nashville). The game will be televised on ESPN.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky started the combination of Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and EJ Montgomery for the fourth time. UK is 4-0 with this lineup.
  • Tied at 9, Kentucky stormed an 11-0 run over five straight possessions – taking only 1:15 off the clock – for a 20-9 lead.
  • Following an Alabama basket, UK surged six more points for a total run of 17-2 and a 26-11 lead.
  • Sparked by nine blocked shots – already a season high – and limiting Alabama to 31 percent shooting, Kentucky took a 39-29 lead into halftime

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky opened with the second half with Hagans, Herro, Johnson, Washington and Reid Travis.
  • Alabama got the first basket of the half, cutting the deficit to eight at 39-31, but the Crimson Tide got no closer.
  • Kentucky largest lead was the final score at 73-55.

Team Notes

  • UK held Alabama to 55 points. UK is a perfect 73-0 under Coach John Calipari when keeping the opponent to 55 points of fewer, including 9-0 this season.
  • UK limited Alabama to 30.4 percent shooting. UK is 179-15 (.923) under Calipari when keeping the opponent at 40 percent or less, including 15-0 this season.
  • Kentucky blocked a season-high 11 shots, nine of which came in the first half.
  • Kentucky led the rebounding 42-32, a major difference from the first time these teams met, when Alabama won the rebounding by eight.
  • In addition to winning the rebounding, UK also led the points in the paint, 34-18.
  • UK led by as many as 18 points tonight. UK is 257-5 (.981) during the Calipari era when leading by at least 10 points at any time in the contest.

In the SEC Tournament

  • Kentucky has an all-time record of 134-25 in the SEC Tournament, and has won 13 in a row, including the last four championships.
  • UK is 45-11 in quarterfinals games.
  • UK leads Alabama 17-2 in SEC Tournament games, including 6-1 in quarterfinals games.
  • This is the fourth year in a row that the teams met in the SEC Tournament, with UK defeating Alabama in the 2016 quarterfinals, 2017 semifinals and 2018 and ’19 quarters.
  • Coach Calipari is 23-3 in the SEC Tournament.

Looking Ahead to Saturday

  • UK is 42-2 in SEC Tournament semifinal games. This marks UK’s sixth consecutive appearance in the semifinals.
  • UK leads the Tennessee series, 155-72.
  • On February 16, UK won 86-69 in Lexington.
  • On March 2, Tennessee won 71-52 in Knoxville.
  • UK is 12-4 vs. Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, including 5-1 in semifinal games.
  • UK leads the Mississippi State series, 97-20, and has won 13 in a row.
  • On January 22, UK won 76-55 in Lexington.
  • On February 9, UK won 71-67 in Starkville.
  • UK is 8-2 vs. Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament, including 1-0 in semifinal games.

Player Notes

  • Tyler Herro led all scorers with 20 points, his sixth 20-point game of the season and his third 20-point output in the last five games.
  • UK is 18-0 this season when he scores at least 15.
  • He made 2-of-2 free throws and has made 62 of his last 63 at the charity stripe.
  • PJ Washington had a stat-stuffer game with 10 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and two steals.
  • It is his eighth double-double of the season.
  • The four blocks tied his career high, now accomplished six times.
  • Ashton Hagans had two points, adding six rebounds and a game-high six assists.
  • Immanuel Quickley scored 12 points, making all four field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers.
  • The three 3s tied his career high.
  • UK is 6-0 this season when he scores in double figures.
  • Reid Travis returned after a five-game absence because of a sprained knee. Playing 23 minutes, he totaled eight points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.


  • Calipari is now 302-69 at UK.
  • Calipari has a 747-209 all-time on-court record.
  • UK is 245-40 vs. unranked competition under Calipari, and has won the last 13 in a row.