The Kentucky Wildcats went to Tuscaloosa to take on a very dangerous Alabama Crimson Tide team on Saturday. And while it was not their best performance of the season, they will be coming home with a 66-55 victory.
TyTy Washington led the way with 15 points, but the real surprise of the game was the play of Daimion Collins with his 10 points and six rebounds. And in case you are wondering, Oscar Tshiebwe had 15 rebounds.
It was a pretty ugly game to watch, but any road win in the SEC is worthy of celebration. This is what you need to know from Saturday’s win.
The Daimion Collins Game
Freshman big man Daimion Collins has only played one minute in the previous four games leading up to the matchup with Alabama. However, for some reason John Calipari gave him his chance on Saturday. And boy did he take advantage of it.
In just nine minutes, Collins had 10 points, six rebounds, and really chanced the game on the defensive end as the rim protector Kentucky has been missing. Is he the go-to big man? Absolutely not. But he has proven that he can come in and make an immediate impact when his number is called, à la Marcus Lee during his time in Lexington.
If Collins can make this kind of impact game to game going forward, Kentucky becomes an even stronger title contender.
TyTy Makes Progress
Since coming back from injury a few games ago, TyTy Washington has really struggled to find his groove. While his shooting percentage will not jump off the page in tonight’s box score, he did find the bottom of the net a few times in leading the team with 15 points.
Sometimes, it is as simple as seeing a shot or two go in. Washington has his fair share of attempts on Saturday, but if that is what it takes to get him going it is well worth it. Since his injury at Auburn, Washington broke into double figures for the first time to help Kentucky get to a big road win.
Over the years, the Kentucky Wildcats have often been guilty of playing lackluster perimeter defense. Random dudes will come into Rupp Arena and hit seven or eight three-pointers, or an entire team will shoot lights out on the road.
That was not the case against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide came into the season ready to run and fire threes at will. They have not been as accurate as expected, thus they have struggled to put together strings of wins. However, they are top 10 in the country in Quadrant 1 wins and when they are hot, they are hot.
But on this day, they shot just 10% from deep and that allowed Kentucky to maintain a comfortable lead for most of the second half. Alabama didn’t hit a second-half shot from deep until there was three minutes left in the game.
Grinding it Out
Kentucky has found success throughout this season with a high-powered offense. However, Saturday was more of a grind-it-out kind of win. It was not pretty, the Wildcats did not score 90 points, and absolutely nobody had a stellar shooting night.
But in an environment like they saw in Tuscaloosa, in a game where the team shot less than 30% from the field (28% to be exact), for this team to come away with a win tells us a lot about their grit, their fight, and their effort to do whatever it takes to win. That is what you want to see heading into the back end of the conference season.
Now let’s celebrate!