Wildcats advance to the SEC tournament semifinals


Kentucky graduate student forward Reid Travis defends during the SEC tournament quarterfinals game against Alabama on Friday, March 15, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

The Kentucky Wildcats are in search of their fifth straight SEC tournament title and became one step closer Friday evening as they took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the quarterfinals. After being defeated by the Crimson Tide in their first SEC game of the season, the Cats won 73-55 and will continue their stay in Nashville for the semifinals on Saturday. 

It was announced Thursday that UK graduate student forward Reid Travis would be playing against Bama after he was out for almost four weeks with a knee sprain. Freshman E.J. Montgomery started in place of Travis, but it only took about three minutes for John Calipari to substitute him into the game. 

After Alabama won the tip and hit a jumper to start the game, Montgomery got things going for Kentucky with a bucket in the paint to tie it up. Several minutes would pass before either team would score again, until Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro hit a jumper to take his team’s first lead of the game. 

UK would would only trail once, when an Alabama jumper put them ahead 6-4 with 16:17 to go in the first half, but UK quickly responded on its possession to follow with a P.J. Washington three-pointer. Alabama would tie it up once more before the Cats took a lead they wouldn’t turn back from. Kentucky would lead by as many as 15 points in the first half. 

Herro was the first Kentucky player to reach double digits on the game, hitting a jumper with 4:19 left in the first half, taking the Wildcats to a 30-21 lead. 

At the half, UK spotted 39-29 lead, Herro being the leading scorer with 11 points. Collectively, the Wildcats had nine blocks in the first half, three coming from Travis. 

Travis’ first bucket of the game came in the first minute of the second half, also UK’s first points of the half. After that, UK’s lead would wouldn’t drop to single digits for the remainder of the game. 

The Wildcat defense held Bama without a field goal for nearly eight minutes, starting at the 10:27 mark. In that span, Alabama’s only points came from the free throw line, making eight of them.  

After coming off the bench, UK freshman Immanuel Quickley went 3-for-3 from deep, scoring 11 points in his team’s win. 

Kentucky’s record improves to 27-5 and will play the winner of Tennessee/Mississippi on Saturday approximately 25 minutes after the noon game.