Just three days after posting an impressive road win over Auburn, Kentucky heads back to the state…
Drought does in Cats at Bama
The Crimson Tide held Kentucky to only one field goal over a 15-minute, 16-second stretch from the 3:34 mark of the first half to the 8:18 mark of the second half. The Wildcats made only two of 18 shots during that span and never regained the lead.
"We took a step back," said Kentucky coach John Calipari, whose team appeared to be headed in the right direction after wins over Tennessee and Auburn last week. "This is a hard place to play."
Alabama (12-6, 4-1 SEC) shot only 37 percent and was outrebounded 44-32, but came up with the clutch plays down the stretch. Nick Jacobs scored eight of his team-high 14 points in the final nine minutes to help ensure the Crimson Tide would stay on top.
Kentucky (12-6, 3-2 SEC) pulled within one at the 1:20 mark with its best free throw shooter at the line in the form of Kyle Witjer, but the sophomore forward missed the front end of a one-plus-one situation. Jacobs answered with an offensive rebound and putback on the other end to give the Tide a three-point edge.
After a pair of Archie Goodwin missed shots on successive trips by the Wildcats, Alabama proceeded to knock down six of eight free throws to clinch only its third win over UK in the last 10 meetings.
It was the first time this season Kentucky lost a game when leading at halftime. The Cats entered the game 12-0 in those situations.
"We should have been up 15 at the half," a frustrated Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
"You have to give Alabama credit. They fought and had great confidence and they played to win. We played not to lose, which young guys do on the road at times."
Wiltjer led UK with 14 points and seven rebounds, but managed only three points after the break. He did not attempt a field goal and managed only two free throw attempts during the scoring drought.
Nerlens Noel added eight points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots for the Cats. It marked his fourth consecutive game with six or more rejections, but it wasn't enough to compensate for UK's other shortcomings.
"You had some players have bad performances," Calipari said. Most notably, guards Ryan Harrow and Goodwin, who combined to hit only five of 24 attempts from the field and committed four turnovers.
"Our guard play was not near (Alabama's) guard play. It just wasn't."
Trevor Releford, Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey combined for 31 points in the Crimson Tide backcourt.
UK also saw forward Alex Poythress foul out with six points and five rebounds having played only 15 minutes on a night when it was already short-handed in the frontcourt minus injured center Willie Cauley-Stein.
• Kentucky leads the all-time series 102-37, but only 28-23 in games played in Tuscaloosa.
• The Wildcats suffered only their second loss in 73 games under Calipari when holding an opponent to 63 or fewer points. The only other loss came to Connecticut in the 2011 Final Four.
• UK had not lost a game it led by nine or more points at the half since a 79-76 loss to UAB on Dec. 15, 2007. The Cats led that game 40-28 at the break in Freedom Hall.
• The Wildcats return to action Saturday at Rupp Arena against LSU. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
HawgsIllustrated.com Recommended Stories
Odell Beckham makes catch of the year
Former LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham made what has to be the most incredible catch of the NFL season. Check out the highlight reel grab!Read More
Big Endorsement for Jameis Winston
There might still be five games left in the season, but much like last year for the Bucs, they're staring a high draft choice in the face yet again. After the unsettling play of both quarterbacks for…Read More
Defense Secretary Hagel Stepping Down
Breaking: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amidst growing concerns over U.S. handling of global unrest.Read More
5 NHL Teams with Tailgating Crazy Fans
When it comes to tailgating, football might be the first sport that comes to mind, but don’t underestimate hockey. The NHL has some of the most passionate fans in all of sports, and they don’t let up…Read More
Apache Administers Death to Taliban (VIDEO)
The Apache helicopter is one of the most famed and efficient killing machines in the U.S Army. Get the skinny on this 'steel dragon' and watch what one does to a platoon of Taliban fighters in…Read More