Alabama basketball team defeats blue blood Kentucky by 20 to stay undefeated in conference play
Just a day after Alabama’s football team won the national championship, the Tide basketball team pulled off a 20-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.
Nate Oats is in just his second year as head coach of the Crimson Tide hoop squad, but he is already putting the program on the map. Kentucky is one of the biggest names in basketball and the biggest in the SEC.
This is only the second win for the Tide in the last 14 meetings between the two teams, and the first win in Rupp Arena since 2006.
After the game, Oats sat down for his post-game interview to discuss the victory they just had over a historically good team. On his team defeating a great Kentucky team, Oats said, “Obviously Kentucky is a little down this year, but they are still Kentucky. They have got pros on that team that our guys went head to head with and guarded.”
Oats has come in and revitalized the school’s basketball program and is now 5-0 in conference play for the first time in a long time. To do this Alabama has had to defeat big names like Florida, Auburn and now Kentucky.
Of all of these, none were as impressive as defeating the Wildcats by 20 points, considering they were also undefeated in league play.
On the keys to getting the win against a great team, Oats said, “I thought the whole defensive philosophy and just getting stops when we needed to. … Obviously, it helps when you make threes. So, it’s great when you have shooters like Petty and Shack. Our big guys can also make shots and Primo played good as well.”
The Crimson Tide are loaded with experienced upper-classmen, and they came through in a big way Tuesday night. In particular, senior John Petty had a fantastic showing with 23 points and shooting over 50% from beyond the arc.
On what role he had to play with a few players out against Kentucky, Petty advised, “The same role I’ve been playing. Even though Herb went out, we still have got leadership on our team.”
Petty continued by saying, “It was just a collective effort, everybody holding each other accountable, and everybody responding to the adversity. I feel like all of our guys stayed focused on staying locked in on the game plan to get the W.”
Petty has struggled to get going at times this year, but really came alive on Tuesday and led the team in scoring. He also added five rebounds to his stat line.
Herb Jones is probably the Tide’s best player and is on average hitting over half of his three-pointers. His coach and teammates brag about the leadership he has in the locker room.
In the first half of the game, Jones went out with an unfortunate hand injury. The extent of the injury is unknown, but he did not return to the game. This could be a huge loss to the Tide, and the team will be hopeful for some good news coming from the trainers soon.
On Jones’ injury, Oats stated, “Our trainers said he will be evaluated in the morning … it’s his hand, finger injury. So, we will have an update, hopefully sometime tomorrow afternoon.”
Oats was asked about Jones again later in his post-game interview and gave a little more information by saying, “From what I’ve heard on the top rope, it looks like he is going to be out for a little while.”
Turnovers are always a key stat to look at in basketball, and Alabama won that battle by forcing Kentucky to turn the ball over 19 times in the game. They were also able to move the ball around well, more than doubling the Wildcats’ assist total.
Bama has started off hot in conference play, and things don’t get easier just yet. Arkansas is coming to Tuscaloosa Saturday boasting a 10-2 record and a dominating rebound duo of Justin Smith and Connor Vanover. The Razorbacks are coming off a huge performance beating Georgia by 30 and will be a tough test for the Tide when they host them this coming Saturday.
Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.