UK set to face Alabama in SEC Tournament semifinals

Freshman guard De’Aaron Fox prepares to throw the ball inbounds during the quarterfinal game of the SEC Tournament against the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday, March 10, 2017 in Nashville, Ky. Kentucky won the game 71-60.

Chris Angolia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  For the fourth straight year and 43rd time overall, UK will be playing in the SEC Tournament semifinals, this time against the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide defeated South Carolina 64-53 in the second quarterfinal on Friday.

In the first and only meeting between these two schools that was down in Tuscaloosa, UK came away with a 67-58 victory in probably its grittiest win all season against one of the best defensive teams in the country.

That matchup came following coach John Calipari’s world famous ‘reboot’, and saw UK somewhat find itself.

Malik Monk led the team with 17 points that day and Isaiah Briscoe had a double-double, but what stood out more about the first matchup was UK’s ability to answer the Tide. Every time that the crowd go into it or Alabama made a run, the Cats responded, and since that game UK has become a much more resilient team.

Not only have the Cats become more resilient, but in their quarterfinal game against Georgia, they have become much better defensively. And defense is something that the Tide excel at, and UK will need to at least match Alabama’s defensive intensity on Saturday.

Currently ranked 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency on, the Tide sit at 19-13 but are not among those teams currently in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but a win over UK and a spot in the SEC championship game would get people talking about the Tide.

As for UK, a win Saturday keeps them in the hunt for a two seed mainly because of all the other chaos occurring across college basketball. But nonetheless, the Cats can put themselves in prime position for a three-peat in the SEC with a win tomorrow against the Tide. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m..