TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — In an unfamiliar situation trailing late, No. 9 Alabama came out of the under-four media timeout on a mission to get stops against Kentucky.
“We came to the huddle, and we just told each other that we know how to win these games and kind of rallied together and decided to get a steal coming out, and that’s what we did. We came out and got stops,” said Alabama guard Herb Jones.
Jaden Shackelford scored 21 points to help Alabama beat Kentucky 70-59 on Tuesday night and complete its first regular season two-game sweep over the Wildcats since 1989.
After a back-and-forth second half, Davion Mintz’s 3-pointer put Kentucky up 54-52 with 4:52 remaining in the game. The Alabama defense then made stops on five straight possessions which led to a 10-0 Crimson Tide run that essentially put the game away.
The Crimson Tide (14-3, 9-0 Southeastern Conference) extended their winning streak to 10 games.
For a team that came in known for its 3-point shooting, Alabama made its first three attempts and then struggled for the rest of the game. The Crimson Tide didn’t hit their first 3-pointer of the second half till Shackelford made one with 9:48 to put Alabama up 47-43.
“We only got 20 3s up which is obviously not how we usually play, but figured out a way to win the game with defensive rebounding,” said Alabama head coach Nate Oats.
Jones finished one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double and went 9-for-10 from the free throw line down the stretch to help seal the game for the Tide.
This game was much more tightly contested than the 85-65 Alabama win on Jan. 12, but in the end the Kentucky (5-10, 4-4 SEC) offense couldn’t convert in the final few minutes of the game until it was too late.
“We had our chances,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “We again got out toughed. Just makes me sick. Not throughout the game, we fought like crazy. The last three minutes we backed away, playing not to lose versus playing to win.”
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Mintz, Dontaie Allen and Olivier Sarr all with 12 points.
The 10-game win streak for Alabama is its longest since the 1996-97 season.
“Big win halfway through conference at 9-0,” Oats said. “Really proud of our guys and the culture that they’ve created for themselves and just winning some close games.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats fall to 0-10 on the year when scoring 65 points or less.
Alabama: Even while only make six 3-pointers, its second lowest total of the season, the Alabama offense still found a way to convert, especially from the free throw line where they finished 24-28.
Alabama takes a break from conference play and travels to No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday to take on the Sooners in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Kentucky will have to rebound quickly as they host No. 5 Texas as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.