While most of the eyes of college sports look at Alabama and see a football dynasty, something is brewing on the hardwood for the Crimson Tide. Nate Oats has his Crimson Tide basketball team ranked 9th in the country, and they maintained that as the Crimson Tide escape with a win over a maligned Kentucky team, 70-59.
Crimson Tide Escape With a Win
While the final score seemed to favor Alabama by a comfortable margin, the truth of the game was a far cry away from a comfortable win. The Tide maintained a steady lead throughout the first half, but Kentucky climbed back to within three before the half.
The Tide started out strong, stretching their lead to 9 with 13 minutes to go in the first half, with John Petty showing out from beyond the arc as he usually does. The Wildcats went on a run of their own, however, and brought it pretty much to even before the half ended. Jaden Shackelford showed out tonight, dropping 21 points to go along with 5 rebounds and an assist. He also hit a tough three at the buzzer to end the first half with a lead for the Tide.
A Tale of Two Halves
Alabama started out strong in the first half, and that was what was needed to help the Crimson Tide escape with a win tonight. The second half told a vastly different story from the first, though. Nate Oats’ squad looked out of sorts and unable to get any rhythm in the second half, and midway through the half had only hit 3-15 from the field.
For Kentucky, they’ve struggled to have a go-to guy for scoring this year. They have a lot of size, but they don’t seem to have that one guy they can count on when they need a bucket late. Davion Mintz provided a spark tonight with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, and he hit a clutch three down the stretch to give the Wildcats a lead.
It looked as though Kentucky might close it out, too. They held a lead with less than 4 minutes to go but went cold offensively. A few timely buckets by Shackelford and Petty from Alabama sent the game into foul and free throw mode and helped the Crimson Tide escape with a win. This ended any chance for a shocking upset, and Alabama has swept Kentucky for the first time since the 1988-1989 season.
What Is Going on in Lexington?
This question can be asked in many places, not just Lexington. It seems that the teams that are normally blue bloods have been struggling this season. Here’s a wild stat for you: Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas have all lost on the same day twice this season. Prior to this season, it had only happened twice since 1961.
So what is the problem here? For the Wildcats, the biggest issue is not size or rebounding. The biggest problem is a lack of offense. Their magic number is 77. If they can score more than 77 points, they are 5-0. Unfortunately, they haven’t managed to hit that number often.
It would be easy to blame COVID-19 for the lack of gelling, and that certainly would make sense. Teams like Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky all rely heavily on freshmen year in and year out. Without the regular offseason that they normally have, the new guys coming onto campus have had to adjust to learn a new system in unprecedented ways. Surely if this continues, we’ll see a surge of new teams at the top of college basketball.
Crimson Tide Escape With a Win
It was a tough and hard-fought game for both sides, and a rough final four minutes kept the Tide from falling to Kentucky, as the Crimson Tide escape with a win. They will look to keep that momentum going through the final stretch of the season. They are 14-3 and ranked #9, which is the highest they have been ranked in the last 14 years. Their next game is Saturday at Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge The Sooners are coming off of a win over #5 Texas. That game will be televised on ESPN2 at 11 AM.
For the Kentucky Wildcats, they fall to 5-10 on the season, and will host #5 Texas on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Longhorns narrowly lost to Oklahoma tonight, 80-79. That game will air on ESPN at 7 PM.
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