With approximately 15:30 to play in the game, Alabama took a 52-32 lead on Kentucky and it looked pretty safe to assume that the Cats were toast.
But a fierce rally spurred by gritty halfcourt defense, fullcourt pressure and timely three-point shooting put Kentucky in position to win the game three times inside the final minute. Alas, the comeback fell short, and Alabama pulled out a 68-66 win, dropping UK to 5-4 this season away from home.
The BBL offers our thoughts on the loss:
- Coach Cal was as intense as ever Tuesday night, screaming at players and staying active on the sideline all night. Though he isn’t exactly an Xs and Os genius, Cal dialed up fullcourt pressure in the second half that really got Kentucky going. He also deserves props for double teaming Bama’s JaMychal Green down the stretch and effectively shutting the big man down.
- While these Cats lack depth, their ability to shoot the ball from deep keeps them in just about any game. When people talk about the three pointer as the great equalizer, teams like UK prove it.
- Brandon Knight made two bad decisions down the stretch that ultimately cost UK the game. But Knight also hit the long three to draw them within 1 with a minute remaining. He has a knack for taking the big shot, and tonight’s performance is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Kentucky is still a young team and was playing in a tough road setting. It looked as if the Cats lost focus when Alabama went on a late first half run, and it trickled down to UK’s halfcourt defense. When the Cats rededicated themselves in the late second half, Alabama couldn’t get a shot off. If these kids can learn to play consistently with that kind of defensive intensity in the face of hostile crowds, they wont lose too many more road games.
- We sincerely hope to see Terrence Jones stick around Lexington for at least another year. He is an up and down player, but he is full of emotion and just a joy to watch. His head to head battle with Green (a former McDonald’s All-American) was a just a showcase of elite talent, and Jones held up well for stretches, scoring on the block and fighting for tough boards. Kid is just a beast.
Earlier this week, we stated that if UK could win 5 of its next 7, the Cats would get at least a #3 or #4 seed in the NCAA tourney. We didn’t envision a loss to Alabama in this stretch. But the Crimson Tide is very athletic and played with great energy tonight. It probably won’t look like a terrible loss when all is said and done.
However, UK is entering dangerous territory. This weekend on the road in Columbia will be a pivotal game. If UK loses to South Carolina, the Cats drop under .500 in conference. The road only gets tougher from there.go back