Kentucky Wildcats (5-9) at Alabama Crimson Tide (13-3)
- Game Time: 7 pm ET on Tuesday, January 26th.
- Location: Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- TV Channel: Today’s game will be broadcast on ESPN.
- Announcers: Karl Ravech Analyst and Dick Vitale will call the action.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN and fuboTV (free trial).
- Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington and on the UK Sports Network.
- Satellite Radio: XM: 382 | Internet: 972
- Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | UA
- Last Game Box Scores: UK | UA
- Stats to Know: UK | UA
- Odds: Alabama opened as an 8-point favorite, but it’s dropped to 6.5 as of Tuesday afternoon. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Alabama a 84.6% chance at winning. KenPom gives the Tide a 79% chance of victory.
- Prediction: KenPom projects a 76-67 win for Alabama. TeamRankings has the Tide coming away with a 78-72 win, while numberFire has them winning 77-69.
When SEC play started, it looked like the Kentucky Wildcats may have turned a corner. They started out 3-0 and laid a whooping on Florida in Gainesville.
And then the Alabama Crimson Tide came to town and brought all of Big Blue Nation back to reality when a 85-65 win.
Alabama’s John Petty lit up the Wildcats with 23 points and the Tide, as a team, shot 46.7% from behind the three-point line. The Wildcats committed 19 turnovers that game and shot only 34.4% from the floor for the game. It was as lopsided of a home loss as I can remember, and the outlook does not look much better for Tuesday.
Since their initial meeting, Alabama has won three straight by an average of 23 points per game. Kentucky, on the other hand, has gone 1-2 with a really bad loss to Georgia before looking like a brand new team at home against LSU on Saturday.
Will Kentucky’s momentum be enough to turn the tide in Tuscaloosa?
The good news is that BJ Boston seems to be finding his rhythm. He has had two solid performances in a row, dropping 18 against LSU over the weekend. Boston seems to be playing more within his own talents and not forcing as many bad shots, which not only benefits his stat line but opens up the floor for others.
Isaiah Jackson also had a monster game on Saturday, pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes on the floor. It seems like several individuals on the team are starting to learn and accept their roles, if they can only find a way to put the pieces together they certainly have the talent to be a top tier team in the conference.
But for now, the premier squad in the SEC is Alabama. Their run the floor and let it fly approach has certainly served them well so far this season as Nate Oates has his team clicking on all cylinders.
Of course, that style of play can be dangerous in a single elimination tournament if the shots just are not falling. But so far this year, they have four regular players in the rotation shooting 35% or better from deep, and it feels like every shot John Petty shoots is going in.
Their hot shooting has put Alabama in a great spot to win the regular season conference title. And if they continue to play as they have been, it is going to be tough for Kentucky to pick up this win on the road. It would be a huge quality win for the Wildcats if they are able to pull of this upset, so hopefully they will be ready to play when the game tips off Tuesday at 7 p.m.
On the injury front, both teams will be missing key players Tuesday. For Kentucky, freshman guard Terrence Clarke is unlikely to play this week due to his lingering ankle injury.
For Alabama, senior forward Jordan Bruner will be out after tearing his meniscus in the win at Rupp. He’s averaging 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game as one of the Tide’s best frontcourt players. He also can stretch the floor, shooting 32.4% from deep.
Needless to say, his absence is a significant loss for the Tide, but they will have sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly back after he missed the first matchup with Kentucky due to injury. Quinerly is averaging 12.5 points and 3.4 assists per game, so his addition will help offset the loss off not having Bruner for Round 2.