UK basketball ends four-game skid with home win over Alabama


Kentucky freshman guard Quade Green drives towards the basket during the game against Alabama on Saturday, February 17, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

UK basketball hosted the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday afternoon looking to end its four-game losing skid and get back to .500 in conference play. The Cats took down Alabama at home, 81-71.

GALLERY: UK defeats Alabama 81-71

The game was an unusual one by the standards of both teams. While the Crimson Tide average 19 three-point attempts per game, they let off 15 shots from deep in the first half alone. They’d end up with 24 attempts from behind the arc, but struggled, making only six of them.

It was also unusual for the boys in blue and white, as UK’s three leading scorers (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo) combined for only eight points in the first half.

The Cats saw a career-high performance from forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who scored 11 points on 4-10 shooting to go along with nine rebounds.

There wasn’t much separation through the first half, as neither team broke away for a lead larger than a five-point advantage for the Cats. UK had the advantage for most of the first half, but never managed to create too much separation.

The Tide’s explosive freshman guard, Collin Sexton, was forced into a relatively bad game as he only scored 12 of the 18.3 points he averages per game on 4-11 shooting.

In the second half, Knox came alive, scoring seven points before the 10-minute mark in the half. He’d end up with 13 points in the game, all scored in the second half.

The game was nearly tight all the way to the finish, as UK’s seven-point lead with 19 minutes left in the second half would be either team’s largest of the game until the end. With three minutes left in the contest, the Cats held only a four-point lead as Alabama head coach Avery Johnson called timeout.

In the final three minutes, the Tide only made one more field goal as Gilgeous-Alexander forced three turnovers and Vanderbilt came up with two important rebounds. The Tide were forced to begin fouling, and UK stretched its lead to 11 with 43 seconds remaining. They’d hold that lead until the final buzzer.

Next up for the Cats is a trip to Arkansas, where they’ll take on the Razorbacks on Tuesday at 9 p.m.