Saturday, No. 7 Alabama put together another impressive game, blowing out Kentucky 78-52 and advancing their SEC record to 3-0 for the first time since the 1986-1987 season.
While the matchup featured two of the top players in the nation, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, who leads the SEC in scoring with 19.1 points per game, and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads the nation in rebounding with 13.8 rebounds per game, Miller was the only star that showed up for this big matchup.
Alabama came out of the gate fast, going on a 6-0 run capped by a Noah Clowney transition dunk that caused Kentucky head coach John Calipari to burn an early timeout. The early 6-0 set the tone for the game and the Crimson Tide never looked back, leading the entire game; in fact, the only time Kentucky tied the Crimson Tide was 0-0 to start the game.
For the first half, the Alabama offense, which was great, took a backseat to their defense, holding the Wildcats to just 29% from the floor. In fact, the lockdown Crimson Tide defense held Kentucky’s top scorer and last year’s national player of the year, Oscar Tshiebwe scoreless through the first half. Cason Wallace, Kentucky’s second-leading scorer, was also held scoreless for the first 20 minutes, causing the Wildcats to lean on Antonio Reeves and Sahvir Wheeler, who combined for 20 of Kentucky’s 24 points in the first half.
Coming out of the second half, Alabama had a commanding 11-point lead in which they quickly extended it 20 points and even touched a 31-point lead late in the second half but consistently kept the Wildcats at a 20-plus point deficit. Alabama was led by big second-halves from Mark Sears and Brandon Miller, recording 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Nearly every Alabama game, freshman sensation Brandon Miller is the Tide’s most valuable player, and it’s a competition for second place, but Mark Sears gave Miller a run for his money for the top spot on Saturday. Sears only scored three points in the first half, all coming from the free throw line, but his performance on the defensive end resulted in a team-high four rebounds, four assists and four steals in the first half. In the second half, Sears turned up his offense scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half with eight of those coming on Alabama’s 11-3 run to open the second half. Sears would finish second on the team in scoring with 16 points, just three points behind Miller’s team-high 19 points.
Next up for Alabama is a tough road test against another top 25 foe as they travel to play No.13 Arkansas on Wednesday, January 11.
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