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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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At the buzzer: No. 17 Kentucky earns convincing win over No. 13 Alabama

No. 17 Kentucky men’s basketball earned a convincing, much-needed win over the top team in the SEC standings, defeating No. 13 Alabama 117-95 inside Rupp Arena on Saturday.

Winning by 22, the Cats were led by Justin Edwards, who earned a new career-high 28 points, as well as Antonio Reeves who finished with 24.

Looking to rebound after falling to LSU 75-74 in heartbreaking fashion, Kentucky started the game with a starting five of Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero, D.J. Wagner, Antonio Reeves and Ugonna Onyenso. 

As for Alabama, who came into Rupp Arena on top of the SEC standings winning seven of its last eight, the Tide would start out with a five of Mark Sears, Rylan Griffen, Aaron Estrada, Grant Nelson and Jarin Stevenson. 

With Kentucky knowing how important a win would be against the Tide, it took John Calipari less than two and a half minutes for his electric freshman duo of Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham to check into the game.

Despite a raucous atmosphere within Rupp Arena, Kentucky and Alabama would start the game 12-12 at the first media timeout. 

Kentucky and Alabama would continue to exchange blows, but a 16-2 Kentucky run would force the Tide’s head coach Nate Oats to call for a timeout after an alley-oop dunk from Zvonimir Ivišić off a Dillingham lob would put Kentucky up 45-31 with around five minutes to go in the first half. 

Going into the intermission, the score would be all Kentucky with the Cats up 58-42 in what was arguably the best first half showing from Calipari’s squad all season for Kentucky’s largest halftime lead against Alabama at Rupp Arena (16 points) since February 20, 1996 (24 points). 

In that first half it was also the most points that Kentucky has scored in the first half of an SEC home game (58) since March 4th, 1995 vs. LSU (63).

To start the second half, Kentucky would continue where they left off to go out to a 20 point lead at the first media timeout of the second stanza of play. 

As the half continued, Kentucky would go on to dominate with a feeling around Rupp Arena that the result was never in doubt. With Kentucky being able to score at will in the second half, the Cats would nearly set a new record with the most points in a single game under Calipari after setting that record earlier this season against Marshall (118). 

Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 27, inside the Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi, against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPN.

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Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

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