Kentucky falls to Alabama 85-65, suffers first conference loss


Kentucky Wildcats guard Devin Askew (2) guards his man during the University of Kentucky vs. Alabama men’s basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 85-65. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

In a battle between two of the SEC’s unbeaten squads, the home team hardly got going. Kentucky never led against Alabama, who took down the Wildcats 85-65 in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.

“Not one of our players played well,” head coach John Calipari said after the game. “I obviously haven’t coached well (either).”

In a flashback to their 1-6 opening stretch, Kentucky totaled 19 turnovers on the night and struggled to score throughout. 

It was a hot start out of the gate for the Crimson Tide, who started 4-4 from the field, including two quick threes that put them up early.

Kentucky would come back after a quick flurry from its offense, but neither team was playing up to their standards in the early going. A pair of three pointers from Davion Mintz and Dontaie Allen respectively got the 3,000 plus in attendance at Rupp Arena on their feet and into the game, which had been lacking from the slow start.

The quick offense of the Crimson Tide took control late in the first half, sparking a 10-0 run that put them up 33-22. The run was complemented by their defense, which forced Kentucky to shoot 2-14 from the field to end the half.

A layup by Keion Brooks Jr. brought the margin to 12, and sent the Wildcats into the locker room with a deficit at halftime on their home floor for the third game in a row. 

The Crimson Tide quickly extended their lead to 16 in the first minutes of the second half. John Petty Jr. and Alex Reese for Alabama were able to get to the rim multiple times with ease.

Both teams traded buckets to start the second half, Kentucky was able to forget about their shooting woes from the first half, but Alabama was still just as hot.

A step-back three-pointer from Petty with just over seven minutes in the ball game put the Crimson Tide up by 19 and sealed the deal for the Alabama victory – or so it seemed.

Devin Askew got fouled on a three-pointer and converted the free throw to give the Cats some life. Isaiah Jackson’s basket on the next possession cut the lead to within twelve with just over five minutes remaining in the game. 

The comeback was short-lived, though. Alabama capitalized on every opportunity they had to trade baskets with Kentucky, as the Wildcat defense couldn’t stop them at the rim (or at the three-point line). 

The difference in this game came from behind-the-arc. Shooting 44% from deep tonight, Alabama poured in 14 made three-point baskets while the Cats connected on just four. John Petty Jr scored 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep. 

Kentucky had three players score in double figures: Jackson (14), Askew (12) and Brooks Jr. (10). Askew also played 36 minutes tonight – the most he’s had in a single game all season – and praised the Crimson Tide afterward. 

“They’re a good team. They made a lot of their shots today,”  he said postgame. “We didn’t show up.”

The Cats will try to bounce back from this loss this Saturday when they face the Auburn Tigers on the road. Tip is set at 2 p.m. on ESPN.