Edwards scores career-high in SEC Tournament loss to Kentucky

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Avery Johnson wants the basketball team to be faster and more aggressive on offense. CW | Amellia Armstrong

Tyler Waldrep

A strong night from behind the arc helped Alabama defeat Ole Miss on Thursday and on Friday Arthur Edwards looked ready to pick up where he left off. Edwards finished the night with a career-high 20 points after shooting 6-10 behind the arc and 7-12 from the field.

“I just wanted to come out and attack,” Edwards said. “I wanted to win badly, but I just came out and attacked and my teammates were looking for me at the 3-point line.”

Unfortunately for Edwards, his teammates weren’t having the same luck. Shannon Hale finished 2-3 behind the arc, but the rest of the team combined to shoot 1-12 from the same distance in the 83-59 loss to Kentucky. The Wildcats finished 13-23 behind the 3-point line.

Three Kentucky players, Jamal Murray (23 points), Alex Poythress (20) and Tyler Ulis (17) finished the game in double figures. Poythress had only made two 3’s all season, but he finished the night 4-5 behind the arc.

“Poythress really killed us from 3’s,” Edwards said. “We expected him to roll, pick-and-roll and he was picking and popping and shooting three or four 3’s behind the arc so that’s mixed us up and we weren’t ready to defend that.”

SEC First Team member Retin Obasohan once again struggled with foul trouble in first half. He was forced to head into the locker room with a single point, but a strong second half allowed him to finish with 18.

“Retin’s ability to attack the basket like he does, he makes two people guard him all the time,” Riley Norris said. “We’re really going to miss him next year.”

Norris said the team would also miss Edwards’ versatility and his leadership next season. Edwards’ also helped the team avoid taking itself too seriously.

“You don’t want to be too tight or too tense going into a game, you want to be kind of relaxed,” Norris said. “He’s [Edwards] done that all year. He’s always been that guy to you know try to lighten the mood a little bit, but always try to stay focused at the same time.”

Coach Avery Johnson said he would put Alabama’s resume up against any other bubble team’s. Alabama looked like an NCAA Tournament team in Thursday’s victory, but the loss to Kentucky means the Crimson Tide (18-14) will likely find itself playing in the NIT next week.

“This is not a sprint, it’s a journey and whatever happens in postseason or whatever happens next year, we just got to keep it moving forward,” Johnson said. “[Our goal] is the Final Four. We’re not close yet, but we’ve taken on step.”

Johnson said his team surprised him with some of its victories this year, and the opportunity to make good on his Final Four promise is coming. Edwards won’t be there to see it, but he doesn’t regret his decision to spend his final year in Tuscaloosa.

“I loved competing at a high level every night. There wasn’t one game in this league that was like okay that’s an easy game we can get that one,” Edwards said. “I’m glad I came here and it was a blessing to play in this conference.”