Kentucky basketball hopes for upset win against No. 7 Alabama on the road


Michael Clubb

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (0) makes a move in the paint during the Kentucky vs. Alabama mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 90-81. Photo by Michael Clubb | Kentucky Kernel

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

After Kentucky’s impressive 74-71 win over LSU this week, the Wildcats will take on a tougher SEC opponent over the weekend in the form of No. 7 Alabama in Crimson Tide territory.

Kentucky’s offense shined against the Tigers on Monday night, much to the delight of fans who have been anticipating a more improved offensive Kentucky win this season.

Fans also hope that the heat the players brought to the court against LSU will roll over to the court in Tuscaloosa.

For the first half of the season Kentucky seemed to hold back all of the talent it’s roster possesses as it has not been able to find a rotation or rhythm that meshes on both ends of the court.

Nonetheless, if multiple Wildcats can continue to reach double digits against SEC teams, the season could see a quick turnaround for the better, and Alabama will be the perfect test.

With the start of conference play underway, there is no more time to look at the potential of a team. Alabama will no doubt unveil what heights the Wildcats are capable of reaching this season.

The Crimson Tides are a powerful foe – ranking in top 20 teams on offense and defense and boasting a 12-2 record with a notable win over a then No. 1 Houston.

Alabama also has the talent of freshman Brandon Miller on its side. The young forward is averaging nearly 20 points per game and most recently sank a 45-footer against Ole Miss.

It’s safe to say that Miller plays a significant role in Alabama being ranked top 10 in three-pointers attempted and made. He is currently shooting 44% from beyond the arc with teammate Mark Sears right below him at 42.5%.

Alabama also ranks superior on the boards, ranking No. 2 in the nation with a total amount of 46.5 rebounds this season.

It will be a showdown between Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe and Alabama’s leading rebounders Noah Clowney and Miller, who both average around eight rebounds per game, while Tshiebwe stands at 13.8 per game.

Where the Cats will lack offensively, especially in the hostile environment of Crimson Tide fans, they will need to make up for on defense, which will ultimately be Kentucky’s best weapon against Alabama.

When the Cats took on LSU earlier this week, forward Jacob Toppin led with 21 points, something not seen very often from him this season. Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler and Cason Wallace also reached double digits.

With that being said, Kentucky’s best chance in top SEC matchups will be to find consistency on offense and hope for a hot streak for Antonio Reeves from beyond the arc.

It’s important to remember, however, that while the LSU victory was a good one for Kentucky, the Tigers are not currently a top team in the SEC.

While the Cats’ energy on the court was prominent, they will have to bring all of that and more to Tuscaloosa this weekend in order to hope for victory.

The Cats and the Crimson Tides will take the court in Coleman Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 1 p.m. EST. The game can be watched on the SEC Network.