UK men’s basketball returns home to face Alabama


Kentucky freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attempts a basket during the game against Tennessee at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky was defeated 61-59. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Pranavdeep Singh

The Alabama Crimson Tide will visit Rupp Arena on Saturday to take on Kentucky for their first and only meeting of the regular season.

The Cats have won eight straight games against the Crimson Tide going back to 2014. Kentucky and Alabama last played in the semifinals of the last year’s SEC Tournament, where the Cats won 79-74.

Kentucky comes into this game having lost four straight games, with the latest one coming to No. 10 Auburn. The last time Kentucky lost five straight games was under coach Rick Pitino during the 1989-90 season.

The last time Kentucky lost to Alabama at home was in 2006, when Alabama pulled off a four-point victory over the Cats. Both teams went on to lose in the second round of the NCAA Tournament later that season.

The Cats are coming into this game needing to shoot better from three, as they have shot 14-63 in the last four losses. They also need to cut down on turnovers as they have a total of 26 turnovers in their last two games.

All eyes will be on freshmen Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to carry the offensive load. They are averaging 15.2 and 12.9 points per game, respectively, while shooting 35 percent from three.

Knox is also second on the team in rebounds per game.

On the other side, the Crimson Tide have won their last two games, beating then-No. 15 Tennessee and LSU by at least 15 points.

Freshman Collin Sexton leads the team with 18.3 points per game and 3.5 assists per game. Sexton ranks third in the SEC in points per game and has had 10 games this season with at least 20 points.

Sexton has scored at least 15 points in seven of his last eight games.

Behind Sexton, junior forward Donta Hall is second on the team with 11.4 points per game while leading the team with 7.2 rebounds per game.

Hall is coming off a season-high 20-point and eight-rebound performance against LSU.

As of Thursday evening, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Cats a 67.8 percent chance to win. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 2 p.m.