The Cats didn’t start off great as they got down 9-1, but they fought their way into a 33-27 halftime lead.
After the break, it continued to be a slugfest, but Kentucky eventually pulled away. The defense by the Cats was elite as they absolutely shut down one of the most efficient offenses in college basketball. People assume Alabama lives and die by the three (they died by it in this one), but that’s simply not true. They beat Baylor, Houston, Tennessee and LSU while hitting just seven threes. Meanwhile, they lost to Davidson and Memphis while hitting double-digit threes.
Alabama plays a unique style. They shoot threes or layups, and that’s it. They died by the three in this one because Kentucky didn’t allow them easy looks—from deep or close to the rim.
A big part of UK’s win was TyTy Washington. The freshman guard has undeniably struggled in two games back from his ankle injury, but he began to settle back in offensively in this one. It wasn’t the most efficient night, but that midrange jumper started falling again, and he was solid defensively.
Oscar Tshiebwe didn’t exactly have his best game, but he still put up solid numbers overall. Big O really struggled with Alabama’s length, which we’ll get to below, as another Cat really stepped up. Don’t get me wrong, Tshiebwe wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the game we’re accustomed to seeing from him. With that being said, he still finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds, which is incredible that that’s a down game for him, and he continued his streak of compiling a ridiculous number of steals.
Other than those two, and our MVP below, the rest of the team was quiet offensively. It was an excellent defensive effort from the group as a whole, but no one particularly stood out. Davion Mintz was a big plus in +/-, even though his numbers don’t jump off the page. UK also got solid contributions from Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin, and Keion Brooks. Wheeler was a menace on the defensive end.
All in all, it wasn’t the prettiest game, but UK absolutely shut down the Crimson Tide on the road. It was an incredible effort, especially against a team that’s shown a knack to knock off the giants this season. These Cats have really taken the road games to heart as they continue to make their opponents “road kill.”
Next up, the Cats will travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday night.
As mentioned above, Kentucky got solid contributions from a lot of guys, but they don’t win this one without Daimion Collins.
After playing sparingly throughout SEC play, Collins gave some really, really good minutes in this game. Bama’s big man, Charles Bediako, was giving Tshiebwe fits down, so Calipari called on the freshman to help match Bediako’s length. He gave UK 6 points and 3 rebounds in just three first half minutes.
After half, Collins continued to be UK’s most valuable player as he ended up with 10 points, six rebounds, and a +14 in the box score in only nine minutes of play. He finished 2-3 from the field and 6-6 from the line.
Collins’ floor isn’t as high as Ware’s, but his ceiling is a lot higher. Any contribution he can provide this year behind Tshiebwe is a huge plus for the Cats. Next year, he could turn into a lottery pick.
Great win…let’s keep it going Tuesday. Go Cats!