The Crimson White

Alabama falls to Kentucky, 70-48

Sean Landry

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If Alabama was going to beat No. 1 undefeated Kentucky, everything had to go right for the Crimson Tide. As it was, matched up against a team replete with future NBA draft picks, nearly nothing went right for coach Anthony Grant’s squad as the Crimson Tide fell 70-48 in Alabama’s worst loss since 2008.

“You have to give Kentucky credit,” Grant said. “ they came right out from the jump and did a great job. They are an elite team from a defensive standpoint, with their size and length. They are really difficult to get good shots against. For our guys, it was about playing 40 minutes and trying to play all the way through and I thought we did a really good job.”

Retin Obasohan made his first start of the season in place of Ricky Tarrant, who Grant said had been unable to practice during the week due to a lower leg injury. Tarrant quickly replaced Obasohan, who was substituted after the first timeout and played only 16 minutes during the game, scoring two points and giving up two turnovers.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead on two transition baskets, Alabama fell behind, stagnant for most of the first half. The Crimson Tide was held to 17 points in the first half, shooting 32 percent from the field and 25 percent from the free throw line, including a 5:58 scoring drought and a stretch of 7:36 without a field goal.

“All of our guys went out there and did a good job in terms of effort,” Grant said. “Kentucky was very good today. They played really well and they deserved to win the game. Ricky was hampered with a toe strain. He’s missed the couple of days of practice but was able to go today. Certainly, there is no excuse, that’s a part of the game, but we have to get ready for our next one.”

Alabama briefly rallied at the start of the second half, cutting Kentucky’s lead to 39-30 by the 13:14 mark. From that point, Kentucky outscored Alabama 6-0 while Alabama’s two biggest defenders, Michael Kessens and Jimmie Taylor, each picked up their fourth fouls.

“They have great depth,” Grant said. “They can throw great players out there on you. Jimmie picked up his fourth foul right when we cut it to nine and then Mike picked up his fourth. It changes what you can do defensively. We were able to get stops and get out in transition and cut into the lead a little bit. That was the plan coming out from the half. We felt like that if we did that we could cut into the lead. Our guys did a good job with that, but Kentucky has a lot of depth and a lot of really talented players.”

The Crimson Tide shot 56.5 percent from the field in the second half, bringing their percentage up to 45, a mark Kentucky coach John Calipari said was one of the best against his team this season.

Alabama finished the game with 15 turnovers and only four assists. Kentucky, boasting 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein alongside near-7 footers Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles, out-rebounded Alabama 30-21, including 19 rebounds off of Alabama misses, where Alabama picked up only 8 boards.

“They are a pretty big team and they play inside-out,” guard Rodney Cooper said. “Kentucky is a good basketball club that can make plays.”

It was the Crimson Tide’s lowest score since a loss to Kentucky on March 4, 2014. Alabama will next travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the No. 19 Arkansas Razorback at 6 p.m. on January 22.

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Alabama falls to Kentucky, 70-48