First Place in SEC on the Line When No. 24 Alabama Meets Kentucky in Rupp Arena Tuesday

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will close out its two-game road swing on Tuesday night when it travels to Lexington, Ky. to square off with the Kentucky Wildcats inside Rupp Arena at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET) on ESPN’s Super Tuesday. It’s the first of two contests between the longtime foes, as the Wildcats will travel to Tuscaloosa in exactly two weeks (Jan. 26) to square off inside Coleman Coliseum at 6 p.m. CT.

Alabama (9-3, 4-0 SEC) and Kentucky (4-6, 3-0) will meet for the 153rd time in series history on Tuesday night, which stands as UA’s fifth-most common opponent in program lore. UK owns a 114-38 edge in the all-time series and has won 12 of the last 13 games played between the two teams. The Tide is 10-58 all-time against the Wildcats in Lexington and owns a 6-26 mark against UK in Rupp Arena. Alabama has lost eight straight games when playing at Rupp Arena, with the last victory at Kentucky coming on Jan. 14, 2006 (won, 68-64).

The 24th-ranked Tide enters the contest having won five straight and six of its last seven games following a thrilling 94-90 victory at Auburn last Saturday afternoon. The win, which marked the 1,700th in program history, was Alabama’s first since winning inside Auburn Arena in 2015 (had lost five straight). It was a season-high scoring total for the Crimson Tide, who improved to 8-0 on the season when scoring 80 or more points.

The Broadcast

  • Tuesday’s game will be available on ESPN with Karl Ravech (play-by-play) and Dick Vitale (analyst) on the call.
  • The radio broadcast can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart (play-by-play), Bryan Passink (analyst) and Roger Hoover (sideline) on the call. The pregame show will begin one hour prior to tipoff.

Team Notes

  • Tuesday’s matchup pits the top two teams in the SEC through the early part of the season as both Alabama (4-0) and Kentucky (3-0) sit atop the league standings. UK has remained unbeaten because of its performance on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 77.0 points per game in league play while leading the SEC in three-point shooting at 46.8 percent (22-of-47) and ranking third in field goal percentage (.457). Meanwhile, UA has done it on defense, ranking second in field goal percentage defense (.379) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.272) and third in scoring defense (72.0).
  • Alabama ranks among the top-40 in the nation in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to (as of 1/11). The Crimson Tide is 29th nationally in offensive efficiency coming into Tuesday’s contest at Kentucky, and ranks No. 40 overall in defensive efficiency. Additionally, the Tide is the fifth-fastest team in the nation, averaging 14.2 seconds per possession according to the same site.
  • Riding a five-game winning streak, Alabama will be looking to win its sixth straight game which would mark the longest winning streak since winning six consecutive games in 2014-15. The Tide’s four straight SEC wins is the best since winning eight straight to start the 1987 SEC season.
  • The Crimson Tide is ranked No. 29 in the NCAA NET rankings (as of 1/11) which is fifth-best among SEC teams. Alabama is one of five SEC teams ranked among the top-30, which also includes No. 3 Tennessee, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 22 LSU and No. 25 Missouri.
  • With a perfect 4-0 record in league play, the Crimson Tide is in first place by itself through the first four games of the SEC season, leading Kentucky (3-0) by a half-game. It’s the first time an Alabama team began conference play with four straight wins in 34 years, dating back to the 1986-87 campaign when UA started that SEC season 8-0.
  • John Petty Jr. has made 22 three-pointers on the year, pushing his career total to 256 made threes. He now needs only eight more treys to become the program’s all-time leader in the category, which is currently held by Brian Williams (1996-99) who made 263 career threes at Alabama. Furthermore, his 672 career attempts from deep is 67 shy of breaking Williams’ program record of 738 three-point shots.
  • While Alabama is known for what it can do offensively, it’s the Crimson Tide’s defense that has helped it to a 4-0 start to SEC play. Only considering teams that have played at least two games in the conference, Alabama leads the SEC in field goal percentage defense (37.9 percent) and three-point field goal percentage defense (27.2 percent), while ranking third in scoring defense (72.0) and steals (8.8).

About Alabama

  • Alabama enters Tuesday’s road contest at Kentucky riding a five-game winning streak, including four consecutive SEC wins, following its 94-90 win at Auburn last Saturday afternoon. In a contest that featured 16 lead changes and nine ties, it was the Crimson Tide who prevailed to capture the program’s first win in Auburn Arena since 2015 (had lost five straight).
  • Four Crimson Tide players are averaging 12.0 or more points per game for head coach Nate Oats in the early part of the season. Guard Jaden Shackelford leads the way at 13.1 ppg while Jahvon Quinerly, who has missed the last two games with a medical condition, is second on the team with 13.0 ppg. Guard John Petty Jr. is at 12.9 ppg with forward Herbert Jones with 12.4 ppg at all averaging in double figures.
  • Jones, considered one of the top defensive players in the entire nation, leads the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg), three-point field goal percentage (.500, 8-of-16), charges taken (4), Blue Collar Points (265.5, 22.1 BCP per game), deflections (42), floor dives (10) and Hard Hat Awards (7). He also boasts much improved offensive numbers during his senior season. In addition to averaging double digits, Jones is collecting 1.9 assists per contest, while shooting 46.2 percent from the field (54-of-117).
  • The trio of Petty (22-of-66), Shackelford (24-of-69) and Quinerly (11-of-34) have combined to hit 57 of the Tide’s 113 three-pointers (50.4 percent) and have 169 of the team’s 351 (48.1 percent) total attempts from beyond the arc. Combined, the trio is shooting 33.7 percent (57-of-169) from beyond the arc.
  • As a team, Alabama is outscoring the opposition by 7.4 points per contest (78.9-71.5) while shooting 42.1 percent from the field, 32.2 percent from deep and 68.9 percent from the charity stripe.
  • It’s the Crimson Tide’s defense that has set the tone to its 4-0 start in SEC play. When considering teams that have played more than one game so far during the conference season, UA leads the league in defensive efficiency, ranking first in field goal percentage defense (37.9 percent) and three-point field goal percentage defense (27.2 percent) and is third in scoring defense (72.0) and steals (8.8).
  • This season, the Tide welcomed back four starters and five of its top seven scorers off last year’s team, three were named as All-SEC performers a year ago. Petty (Second Team All-SEC), Shackelford (All-Freshman) and Jones (All-Defensive) all earned a spot on the postseason teams. Both Petty and Jones tested the NBA waters, with Petty, who was one of the last players to withdraw his name, announcing his return in early August and Jones in mid-June.
  • Alabama was predicted to finish fifth overall as voted on by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Additionally, Petty All-SEC Preseason First Team honors by both the coaches and media members, while Jones earned a spot on the preseason second team as voted on by the league’s head coaches. Petty was selected to the 2020 Jerry West Award Watch List for the nation’s top shooting guard. He was also tabbed preseason All-SEC by Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
  • Head coach Nate Oats is in his second season at the helm of the Crimson Tide program and owns a record of 25-18 (.581) during his time at the Capstone. Oats, who is in his sixth season as a collegiate head coach, owns a career record of 121-61 (.665).

About Kentucky

  • Kentucky enters the contest sporting a 4-6 record on the season but has not lost in 2021, winning all three of its SEC contests played in the new year. UK comes to enter Tuesday night’s contest sporting a perfect 3-0 record in conference play and stands a half-game back of Alabama (4-0) for first overall in the league standings.
  • After capturing a pair of narrow victories at Mississippi State (78-73, ot) and vs. Vanderbilt (77-74), the Wildcats are coming off their most impressive performance of the season last Saturday when UK captured a 76-58 win at Florida. Kentucky was led by the debut of Keion Brooks Jr., who played 24 minutes and finished with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also had team highs of six rebounds and four assists to finish with a plus-minus of +23.
  • With the addition of Brooks (12.0 ppg), Kentucky’s lineup features five players who average in double figures this season. Brandon Boston Jr. leads UK with 12.8 points and 1.5 steals per game. Olivier Sarr contributes 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds, while Terrence Clarke (10.7) and Davion Mintz (10.3) also add to the offensive attack. Meanwhile, Isaiah Jackson averages 5.7 ppg and leads the team with 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
  • As a team, Kentucky is outscoring the competition by +1.4 points per game (68.5-67.1) and owns a +3.1 advantage on the glass (38.2-35.1). The Wildcats are shooting 42.8 percent from the floor, 31.1 percent from beyond the arc and 69.3 percent from the charity stripe. Behind Jackson, who is 13th in the nation, the Wildcats lead the SEC and rank fourth in the nation with 6.1 blocks per game.
  • The Wildcats have been a different team across their three games in SEC play. UK is leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.468), ranks third in field goal percentage (.457), fourth in scoring margin (+8.7) and is seventh in scoring offense (77.0) entering its fourth league contest. Kentucky is limiting its SEC foes to just 39.2 percent shooting from the field, 38.7 percent from beyond the arc and 68.3 points per contest.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari comes into Tuesday’s game with an all-time record of 779-223 (.777) in his 29th season at the helm of the men’s basketball program. Now in his 12th season at UK, Calipari owns a record of 334-83 (.801).

Alabama-Kentucky – Series Notes

  • Tuesday’s game will mark the 152nd meeting in series history between to two schools and will be the first of two meetings between the teams during the regular season. The Wildcats will return the game in Tuscaloosa in two weeks on Jan. 26 (6 p.m. CT on ESPN/ESPN2).
  • The 151 games played in the series stands as UA’s fifth-most common opponent in program lore. Kentucky owns a 113-39 edge in the all-time series.
  • The Tide is 10-58 all-time against the Wildcats in Lexington and owns a 6-26 mark against UK in Rupp Arena. Alabama has lost eight straight games when playing Kentucky in Lexington. The last time Alabama won at Rupp Arena came on Jan. 14, 2006 (won, 68-64).
  • Alabama has only won twice in the last 17 games played at Rupp Arena.
  • In the only head-to-head meeting between the two teams last season, Kentucky defeated Alabama, 76-67, on Jan. 11, 2020 in Lexington, Ky. The Tide, who was led by Herbert Jones’ career-high 18 points, trailed by only one point with just over two minutes remaining, but could not score another point as UK hung on for the win.
  • The series began in 1923.

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