With a little over a minute remaining in the first half
Alabama found itself down 16 points to the No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats, but the
Crimson Tide wasn’t ready to give up so early.
Alabama finished the half on a 6-0 run and picked up right where
it left off in the second half, outscoring Kentucky 12-6 in the first five
minutes of the second half after a dunk from Jimmie Taylor cut Kentucky’s lead
down to four points.
“I’ll say it [the 18-6 run] was more of a thing of focus,”
Retin Obasohan said. “Especially when you go on a run against a good team,
[but] you’ve got to be aware of the fact that they’re going to attack back.”
It was the attack back that Alabama found itself unprepared
for. Kentucky used an 11-2 run around the middle of the second half to put the
game out of reach as the Wildcats defeated Alabama 77-61. This is the first
time the Crimson Tide has started SEC play 0-2 since 2007.
As their lead shrank, the Wildcats remained confident they
could play at a higher level. Alex Poythress said the team talked about approaching
the remainder of the game with the right focus.
“We were saying that we are better than this,” Poythress
said. “We have to learn to how to bury teams.”
Coach Avery Johnson did not get the result he wanted, but he
did see some things he liked in Saturday’s game. He liked the focus his team had
and holding Kentucky to shooting only 2-9 behind the arc, but perhaps the thing
Johnson liked most was the crowd.
“Our students were unbelievable. They came back early,”
Johnson said. “That’s the type of home court advantage we are after for every
Johnson has harped on Alabama’s turnover problems and slow
second half starts ever since the Crimson Tide fell to Oregon before Christmas,
and it looks like his team finally got the message.
Alabama didn’t turn the ball over at all in the second half
-a stat that impressed Kentucky coach John Calipari- as Alabama finished with a
season-low number seven turnovers.
“I told him after, ‘look Avery, that’s as good as we play,’”
Calipari said. “If we played like we played the other day [in the loss to LSU],
we would have had the same result.”
In the end, the things Alabama did right weren’t nearly enough.
The Wildcats dominated the boards for most of the game to finish with 43
rebounds compared to the Crimson Tide’s 25. Kentucky’s Marcus Lee grabbed 11
rebounds by himself in a performance that Johnson said he would like to see his
bigs imitate on the boards going forward.
Alabama also only managed to record a season-low five
assists, and even though Obasohan scored 21 points to extend his streak of
20-point games to three, Alabama struggled to get points consistently outside
of the run.
Johnson said he thought the short turnaround from the Ole
Miss game Thursday night might have impacted his team’s performance.
“We normally do a good job of responding after a loss,”
Johnson said. “Hopefully now we can get back to practice, get back on a normal
schedule and hopefully play a much better game against arguably one of the best
team in the country right now that’s coming in on Wednesday in South Carolina.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports