Alabama dominates Kentucky to keep top spot in SEC
LEXINGTON, Ky. — — John Petty Jr. scored 23 points, including four of Alabama’s 14 3-pointers, Jaden Shackleford added 18 points and Alabama never trailed Kentucky to earn an 85-65 rout Tuesday night in a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s top two unbeaten teams.
The Crimson Tide (10-3, 5-0 SEC) won their fifth consecutive game to remain atop the conference. They never trailed, and after the second-place Wildcats tied the game at 17-all, soon answered with consecutive 3s by Shackleford, Petty and Alex Reese (eight points) to regain the lead for good. The Tide led 67-47 with 6:49 remaining and Kentucky never got closer than 12.
“The first four minutes of the game basically tells who’s come ready to play,” Petty said. “Our coaching staff and our team harped on coming out, being the more aggressive team and focused team in the first four minutes.”
Petty was 4 of 7 from behind the arc and 9 of 15 overall as Alabama snapped an eight-game losing streak at Rupp Arena with its first win since Jan. 14, 2006 (68-64). Shackleford was 6-of-15 shooting including two 3s, among seven players to hit at least one from deep as the Tide finished 14 of 30 (46.7%). It marked their second-highest total this season and the eighth time they’ve reached double digits.
“Obviously, it helps when you make 3s,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said.
Alabama’s 3-point shooting was slightly better than its overall percentage (31 of 68, 46%). Joshua Primo had 12 points with a 3 for the Tide. Alabama handily won despite losing starters Herbert Jones in the first half and Jordan Bruner in the second with what Oats said afterward were hand and knee injuries respectively. Both will be evaluated on Wednesday. Isaiah Jackson had 14 points off the bench, Devin Askew 12 points and Keion Brooks Jr. 10 for Kentucky (4-7, 3-1), which had won its previous three contests. The Wildcats controlled the boards 44-36 and recorded nine blocks but played catchup throughout against Alabama’s outside shooting and fast pace. They finished 21 of 61 from the field, including 4 of 18 from long range.
Said Askew, “We didn’t show up today, we didn’t execute that well.”