This last stop in the State of Alabama proved much tougher than the first for the Wildcats when they squared off against Auburn. The Cats started out poorly by committing two turnovers for their first two offensive plays of the game. Perhaps the nerves of playing on the road at Alabama were an issue, I don’t know but once they calmed down, they cruised out to a double digit lead. They were aggressive on both ends of the floor and took Alabama completely out of their game. Kentucky played physical on both ends as well which is a very positive sign for the typically laid back Wildcats.
After the 16:26 mark in the 1st half, however, the wheels came off for Kentucky. They wouldn’t score another FG the rest of the half even though they took an 11 rebound advantage to the locker room. And in what continues to be the Achilles Heel for the Wildcats, they started the 2nd half ice cold. They had 0 FG in the prior 8 minutes and didn’t score their first until 12:01 left in the game. Against anyone outside of the local YMCA is that acceptable. To be fair, Alabama came out the aggressor in the 2nd and Anthony Grant made a great adjustment by going away from the press which kept costing them transition baskets in the 1st half.
Bama was aided by the officials on two critical out of bounds calls where it was clear that ball belonged to the Cats but those two plays did not cost them the game. Alabama made the right halftime adjustments on both ends of the floor and sank all their FT’s to close the game out.
Kentucky was led in scoring by Kyle Wiltjer with 14 and in rebounding by Nerlens Noel with 13. Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow struggled mightily on both ends of the floor combining to shoot 5-24 with only 4 assists between them. That front court won’t win at Rupp. It won’t win in Alabama. Kentucky has taken another step back and this time the drawing board is a long way away.
Alabama beats Kentucky 59-55