Late Second Half Run Lifts No. 9 Alabama Over Kentucky, 70-59

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 9/8 Alabama men’s basketball team used an 18-5 run over the final 4:27 to capture a 70-59 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday night inside Coleman Coliseum. The win was the Crimson Tide’s 10th consecutive – the longest winning streak since the 1996-97 campaign – and gave the program a season sweep over the Wildcats for the first time in 32 years dating back to the 1988-89 season.

Guard Jaden Shackelford paced UA with 21 points, including going 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, while forward Herbert Jones nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight assists. Guards Joshua Primo and John Petty Jr. each had 10 points in the victory.

With the win, the Crimson Tide (14-3, 9-0 SEC) captured its ninth-straight win to start SEC play which is the second-best start to a conference season in program history, trailing only the famed Rocket 8 1955-56 team that finished with a perfect 14-0 record in league play.

Coach Nate Oats Postgame Comments

“I would like to thank the crowd. Everyone that showed up was great and we needed them late in the game, they brought the noise to help pull us through. A lot of credit goes to Kentucky. They could have folded after we jumped on them early, but they fought back and ended up taking the lead. They competed and fought hard over the course of the game, but our guys are older, veteran guys that know how to win and show that they know how to win in close games. They were up two, and then we went on a 10-0 run. We almost shut them out there in the last four minutes except some free throws and a three. I thought our defense was great. We had Keon Ellis in there and I thought he gave us great minutes defensively, especially late. With the bigs that Kentucky has and without (Jordan) Bruner right now and (Alex) Reese banged up, I thought Juwan Gary was huge with his minutes. For our seniors to get the first sweep of Kentucky since 1988-89 is special. I am happy for those guys. Petty had a tough game because Kentucky did a great job on our shooters. We only got 20 threes up which is not how we usually play, but we figured out a way to win with defense and rebounding. We were even on the glass with them and I will take that without the bigs we would normally have. It was a big win because we are half way through conference play at 9-0. I am really proud of our guys and the culture that they have created here and being able to win in some close games.”

Team Stats

  • The contest featured nine ties and six lead changes, with all but two of those ties coming in the second half
  • Alabama led for 28:50 of the game while Kentucky (5-10, 4-4 SEC) held the lead for just 3:06
  • The Tide outscored the Wildcats in the paint, 28-16
  • Shackelford (10-10) and Jones (9-10) combined to hit 19-of-20 free throws, while UA went 24-of-28 (85.7 percent) from the charity stripe
  • UA connected on all six of its free throws in the final 45 seconds
  • Alabama completed its first series sweep of Kentucky since 1988-89 and also marked the first back-to-back wins over the Wildcats since winning in 2000-01 and 2001-02

First Half

  • Alabama started the game with a 10-2 run on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field that forced Kentucky into a timeout at the 16:44 mark of the opening stanza
  • Kentucky responded with a 10-7 spurt, but the Tide still led 17-12 at the under 12 media time out
  • The Wildcats cut the Tide’s lead to 19-16 with 7:41 left in the opening stanza
  • Kentucky went on a 7-4 run in the last few minutes of the first half to share the lead at 30-30 before a three at the buzzer by Jahvon Quinerly sent Alabama into the locker room with the 35-32 lead
  • Joshua Primo scored seven of the Tide’s first 10 points on his way to 10 total points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting from the field

Second Half

  • Alabama was held without a field goal through the first 9:48 of the second half, but kept the game close by drawing a foul and going to the free throw line, knocking down 22-of-26 of its free throw attempts in the second half
  • With UA trailing 43-41, Alabama used a 6-0 run to regain the lead at 47-43 before the Wildcats tied the game 47-47 with 8:56 remaining
  • Kentucky held a 54-52 lead at the under four media timeout before Alabama went on a 10-0 run to pull ahead 62-54 with 45 second remaining
  • The Tide made all six of its free throws down the stretch to earn the 70-59 victory
  • Twenty-two of the Tide’s 35 second half points came at the charity stripe

Alabama will step outside SEC play for the final time in the regular season when it travels to Norman, Okla., to take on the No. 24-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. That contest is slated to tip off at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

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