Kentucky Basketball: Gritty, odd, bazaar win but Cats win another grinder

Davion Mintz of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Davion Mintz of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /
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If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then those finding much in the 66-55 victory by Kentucky basketball over Alabama would surely be wearing rose-colored glasses.

Slotted to be high octane, run, gun, and score contest instead turned into a game of throwing rocks or a playground tussle and bricklaying shooting affair.

Still, for the No. 5 ranked Wildcats, it proved to be another test they needed to pass and found other ways to win when the usual go-to players struggled mightily. Come tournament time you just have to win and advance and it’s these types of games that make or break a contender.

On Wednesday Kentucky (19-4, 9-2) won ugly against Vanderbilt 77-70 and barely made it to Tuscaloosa due to an ice storm in Lexington. That came on the heels of winning the best game of the year among college basketball teams when they throttled Kansas 80-62.

Kentucky basketball doesn’t have to win pretty, it just needs to win

Kentucky came in looking to avenge a pair of losses to the Tide last season and determined not to make it three. 

The win over the Tide was not a horrible one but only proof served up by both Vandy and Bama that teams have to play Kentucky very physically if they think they are going to take down the Wildcats. That doesn’t always translate into the prettiest of games to watch, but one’s that a team has to win to play deep into the postseason.

Oscar Tshiebwe needed until the closing minute of the game to secure his 10th point and 17th double-double of the season. Bama hacked him all night and Tshiebwe missed gimme dunk after gimme dunk in the paint. He finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 steals.

Alabama (14-9, 4-6) hit just 3 of 30 from behind the arc and 18 of 64 field goals overall yet still was never fully out of the game hanging close to a 10 point deficit.

Sahvir Wheeler also struggled mightily playing 33 minutes without scoring a single point. had seven assists, three rebounds, three steals but four turnovers.

Kentucky actually seemed to play better when TyTy Washington was running point in this game. He led UK in scoring with 15 points while adding in three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Big Blue knocked down just 24 of 60 field-goal attempts that included 4 of 11 from 3-point range. They came away with 12 steals and finished with 13 assists.

Still, a victory is a victory and Kentucky continues to impress with most bracketologists projecting the Wildcats as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This was another win over a quality opponent to add to their resume.

Here are three quick takeaways from the win.