We sure needed that …. Cats Roll Tide 81-71

UK needed this, BAD!! After 4 straight losses, a first for Coach Cal at UK, Kentucky finally showed the late game toughness they had been missing. After coming out at half time with a 39-34 lead over the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Cats fought, what has been the common theme of folding during the second half, to pull out a tough win over a good Alabama team that came in to the game with the same record as the Wildcats at 17-9.

Kentucky started their worst losing streak in over a decade with a road loss to Missouri 60-69. They followed that up with a stunning 59-61 loss at home to Tennessee where they gave up a lead with under a minute to play. Then it was on the road for a 2nd half beat down to the Aggies of Texas A&M that resulted in a 74-85 loss. UK then went to Auburn and was embarrassed with a 66-76 loss.

So yes, UK needed this win. not just to put a “W” in the win column to but show some very disgruntled UK fans they could be a good team like Alabama. UK showed they may have turned the corner with a quality win. Jared Vanderbilt continues to get better and looks like the spark plug UK needs. Vanderbilt score 11 points and had 9 rebounds in just 19 minutes. Shooting continues to be a problem for UK as they shot 43.8% with Alexander and Knox combining to go 6 for 20. The Wildcats out rebounded Alabama 44-27. Kentucky had 10 assists compared to 13 turnovers. Getting 10 assists on 28 baskets is not exactly moving the ball around, but coach Cal will take it.

UK has some work to do as they travel to Arkansas for a Tuesday matchup before coming home to try to get revenge on the Missouri Tigers next Saturday, the 20th. Then it is Senior night and the final home game of an up and down season with a game against Mississippi on Wednesday February 28th. After that UK will travel to Florida to try to make up for a 64-66 home loss to the Florida Gators on March 3rd in Gainesville.


Final Score: Kentucky 81, Alabama 71

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 18-9 overall, 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 17-10 overall and 8-6 in the SEC.
  • Kentucky leads the series 111-37, including 57-10 in Lexington.  
    • UK has won nine in a row vs. Alabama.
  • Next for the Wildcats: Kentucky travels to Arkansas Tuesday with tipoff slated for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.  


In the First Half


  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the third time this season. UK is 2-1 with this lineup.
  • Richards scored Kentucky’s first four points with two dunks.
  • He’s scored Kentucky’s first points of the game nine times, tied for the team lead.
  • He’s started a game with a dunk six times this year.
  • Quade Green hit a made 3 with 9:28 to play, extending UK’s streak of 1,040 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
  • UK’s largest lead was five points when Diallo hit a layup with three seconds remaining in the half.


  • Kentucky’s 39 points in the first half was its most before halftime since scoring 41 vs. Louisville, which UK beat 90-61.


In the Second Half


  • Nick Richards scored the first two points of the half with a layup at the 19:42 mark, giving UK a seven-point lead, its largest since winning at West Virginia on Jan. 27.
  • Alabama never led by more than three, and its last lead was 59-58 with 8:34 to play.
  • UK opened up its largest lead, 11 points, with 44 seconds to play in the second half.
  • UK had not led by more than seven since the win at West Virginia on Jan. 27.
  • UK led by more than 10 points for the first time since defeated Mississippi State on Jan. 23.



Team Notes

  • Kentucky snapped its first four-game losing streak since the end of the 2008-09 regular season. It was Calipari’s first four-game losing streak since Memphis lost four in a row to end the 2004-05 regular season. 
  • UK is 43-12 in “bounce back” games under Calipari following a loss.  
    • The Wildcats have only lost back-to-back games 12 times during the Calipari era with three of those losses having come during the just lapsed four-game losing streak.
  • Kentucky won rebounding 44-27, and offensive rebounding 20-9.
    • UK’s offensive rebounds were one outside the top 10 for most of the Calipari era.
    • Alabama’s 27 rebounds were tied for the second fewest by a UK opponent this year.
    • UK’s plus-17 rebounding margin was its highest in SEC play. The only higher rebounding margin UK had this year was plus-23 in two straight games against Troy and Fort Wayne in November.
  • Kentucky scored 39 bench points, just under half of UK’s total for the game.
    • UK won bench points 39-19. UK is 8-8 this season and 3-6 in the SEC when leading bench points.
    • UK also won points in the paint 40-32
      • UK is 13-7 overall, and 5-6 in the SEC with more points in the paint this year.  
  • Five Wildcats scored in double figures for the first time since Nov. 26 vs. UIC.


Player Notes  


  • Quade Green came off the bench to score 12 points and dish four assists.
  • He’s scored 10 or more in 12 games this year, two of the last four and three of the last six.
  • Nick Richards scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.
  • He reached double figures for the seventh time this year, but the first time since scoring 10 vs. Vanderbilt on Jan. 30
  • Kevin Knox scored 13 points, all in the second half.
  • Scoreless in the first 26:38 of the game, he proceeded to score 11 of Kentucky’s next 13 points between the 13:22 and 8:17 marks in the second half.
  • He also grabbed five rebounds.
  • PJ Washington came off the bench to score 16 points and grab five rebounds.
  • He’s scored in double figures in two straight after not reaching that threshold since playing Mississippi State on Jan. 23.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt scored a career high 11 points in this the 10th game he’s played.
  • He came up a rebound shy of a double-double.
  • Vanderbilt has 69 rebounds in 151 minutes this season.



Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 712-202 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 267-62 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 148-8 in Rupp Arena.
  • Calipari is 14-3 against Alabama.

UK Student-Athletes

#2, Jarred Vanderbilt, F

On Coach Calipari comparing him to Dennis Rodman…

“I think he just means the effort with rebounding and stuff like that; just impacting the game.”


On how familiar he is with Dennis Rodman…

“ I didn’t really watch him that much but I hear he plays hard and gives all effort. ”


On making late shots helping his confidence…

“I saw a couple of them drop. That obviously boosts your confidence. I missed some early in the game but I just kept playing and they ended up falling late in the game.”


On his offensive rebounding game …

“Definitely. Any extra possessions we can get for the team, I try to go after them. I just tell my guys, we go up that way. We can get them off the rim. With shots coming off the board, it gave us the chance to offensive rebound.”


On how Kentucky beat Alabama on offensive rebounds…

“It was just mental. It was like we are going to kill the boards. That was our mindset going into the game and told the guards if they can get it up, obviously try to make it. But, if not, we are coming right there for the put back.”

#25 PJ Washington, F
On Cal’s trusting Washington to know what to do with the ball… “At the end of the game, I tried to get the guys up in the air tried to get easy fouls and get to the line. I did that and I made my free-throws. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of my team for giving me the ball.”


On the four game losing streak… “It was a great learning experience for us. We learned a lot from losing those four games, I feel like we’re going to be a lot better the next couple of games.”


On Coach Cal’s comment on Jarred Vanderbilt being like Dennis Rodman… “I definitely know who Dennis Rodman is. Jarred is a great player, he can pretty much do everything on the floor. He rebounds like crazy, just every put back he just got to start making them. Once he starts doing that, he’s going to be great for us.”


On Jarred Vanderbilt’s energy… “He’s got a great energy. Every day in practice, every day during the games. He’s a great player and a great guy.”


On today’s game… “If we play like this, we feel like we can beat anyone in the country. We need to keep doing this in practice and eventually in the games. We’ll keep working on it every day.”

#0, Quade Green, G

On being a defensive player …

“I always could play defense. I was just a little unconfident on the defensive end. Now, I’m really confident on the defensive end.”


On avoiding problems that caused them the 4-game losing streak…

“Everybody’s in the gym throughout this whole week. So, everybody’s hitting shots and everybody’s confident. We got to win as a team on our own floor.”


On how the team got to the point where losing was enough…

“I don’t think anyone in the locker room has ever lost four games in a row in their life. Through AAU and high school so this was really hard for all of us. We had to step it up.”