The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday, completing their first season sweep of the 'Cats since the 1988-89 season. Though Alabama led for the majority of the contest, the Tide struggled mightily on offense and were forced to turn to their defense for an answer. Going into the back half of the SEC schedule, here are three key takeaways from this team after their gutsy win over Kentucky.

Alabama Can Play Elite Defense

Despite a quick start to the game, Alabama's shooters never found any sort of rhythm, making just six field goals in the second half. Needing to find a way to win elsewhere, the defense stepped up big, holding Kentucky to 19-of-54 from the field and forcing 17 turnovers. Alabama was forced to gut out a gritty win against a Kentucky team that seems to be finding their identity as the season progresses, and they did it with defense.

Alabama Can Win Tough Games

In the Tide's last two games, against Mississippi State and Kentucky, this team has been forced to play tough defense down the stretch to gut out wins. The Bulldogs scored nearly 60% of their points in the paint and out rebounded the Tide 36-32, forcing Alabama to toughen up. Kentucky held Alabama to one of its worst shooting performances in recent memory, but the Tide's tough defense late in the game helped seal the sweep of the Wildcats. This team has proven they can hang with anyone by showing that even on their worst nights they still find ways to win.

Alabama Isn't Even at Full Strength

One of Alabama's top defenders, Jordan Bruner, is still out with a torn meniscus. James Rojas missed the Mississippi State game and was forced to play limited minutes against Kentucky after recovering from an undisclosed medical condition. The future outlook for the Tide is extremely bright. Bruner was spotted in warmups against Kentucky and looked strong, meaning his return is imminent, and Rojas will only continue to get healthier as the season progresses. Getting back two big men for Alabama will be huge for their depth as they get into the second half of the SEC season.

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