Men’s Basketball Comeback Effort Not Enough in 67-58 Loss to No. 15/12 Kentucky
The Alabama men’s basketball team fell to No. 15/12 Kentucky, 67-58, in front of sellout crowd on Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum. The loss drops the Tide to 14-10 on the year and 7-5 in SEC play, while the Wildcats improve to 20-5 overall and 10-2 in the league.
Freshman Braxton Key led all scorers with 21 points, 17 of which came in the second half, followed by redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram with 12 to go along with eight rebounds. Senior Bola Olaniyan led the Tide with 10 rebounds.
“I thought this was going to be a very winnable game, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a great first half,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We dug ourselves a hole, didn’t have great body language and played on our heels. We were a little fearful for some reason in the first half. Hopefully, we will continue to mature. As a coaching staff we will continue to try to coach them up better, but we were on our heels in the first half for some reason. We acted like we didn’t know where to go or what to do with the basketball. Give [Kentucky] credit; coach (John) Calpari does a terrific job with all of these kids.
“We didn’t capitalize, we came back there a little bit in the second half, we have a two possession game and we turned the ball over. Then, we get (Isaiah) Briscoe in a tough spot, he takes us to the basket and nobody comes over to help. Once we made a little bit of a run there, we became undisciplined again. We have to do a better job on coaching them up, and we’ve got to do a better job at playing confident with competitive spirit. I’ve seen signs of it during the course of the season but not consistently.”
Alabama got out to an early 7-4 lead at the first media timeout, but Kentucky answered with a 10-0 run to take a 14-7 lead at 11:53 mark. The Wildcats would keep their seven-point lead until the Tide sparked a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 20-17 with 6:09 to play in the first half.
With Kentucky clinging to a 22-19, the Wildcats used a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 29-19 with 52 seconds on the clock. The Tide trailed 29-20 at the break.
Kentucky was able to stretch its lead to begin the second stanza as it outscored the Tide, 19-10 over the first 10 minutes of the half to take its largest lead of the game, 48-30, with 10:13 left to play.
However, Alabama wouldn’t go away quietly as the Tide responded with a 13-2 run over the next 5:05 to trim the Wildcats’ lead to seven points, 50-43. Alabama was able to pull as close as six points, 55-49, with 2:39 remaining, but Kentucky outscored Alabama 12-9 over the final minute and a half resulting in the final score.
The Wildcats defensive pressure resulted in forcing Alabama into 16 turnovers, which resulted in a 14-8 deficit in points off turnovers. The Tide was outrebounded, 41-38, which marked just the second time in Southeastern Conference play and the sixth time this season Alabama lost the battle of the boards.
Alabama is back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 15, when it heads to Columbia, Mo. to take on Missouri. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.