By Jackson DiLullo
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The freshly-ranked No. 25 Alabama Crimson Tide losses in Lexington against the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats. The Crimson Tide fall to 17-10 on the season and 7-7 in SEC-play.
Alabama came out of the gates red-hot and made 9 of their first 12 attempts from deep. After averaging 75.0% on their first 12 looks, the Tide shot an abysmal 17.8% (5-28) from behind the arch the rest of the way. Jaden Shackelford went noticeably cold for a good portion of the contest, but still managed to finish with 18 (5-15 FG, 5-12 3PT) points.
After such a strong start a loss is hard to explain, but what makes matters worse was the near-criminal underusage of Charles Bediako in the latter half of the contest. Bediako, who played admirably against Oscar Tshiebwe in their first matchup on Feb. 5, was noticeably absent for just over 15 minutes in the 2nd half.
In his 15 minutes of play, Bediako managed 6 (3-3) points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocks. The practically unguarded Tshiebwe dropped 23 (9-13) points and dominated the glass with 14 rebounds. After falling behind, Alabama head coach Nate Oats seems to have prioritized the 3-point shooting of James Rojas, Noah Gurley and Juwan Gary; combined, the three forwards shot 2-8 from three.
Despite the team’s struggles from the field, Keon Ellis played outstanding. His 28 (10-16 FG, 7-11 3PT) led the team and set a new career-high for the senior guard. J.D. Davison had a quiet night in the scoring department but led the team in rebounds with 7 and assists with 5.
The Crimson Tide lost the rebounding battle 39-32 but led in offensive rebounds 17-16. The Tide also led in assists 15-13 and blocks 5-3; they unfortunately led in turnovers 9-7 and fouls 16-7.
With a win today, the No. 25 Crimson Tide could have established themselves as a top-25 team and potentially improved their ranking in AP-top 25. The Tide’s 81-90 collapse against No. 4 Kentucky most likely knocked them out of the top-25 altogether.
The No. 25 Alabama Crimson Tide will close out the season with a 4-game stretch within the SEC. Alabama will look to bounce-back against an unranked Vanderbilt (13-12, 5-8 SEC) on Feb. 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CST.