Kentucky defeated Alabama 81-71 to end a four game losing streak.
From UK Sports Video
From UK Athletics
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.
- 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.
- 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.
By: Ryan Page
Q. Avery (Johnson) thought rebounding was a big key here. What do you think of the effort and the impact it had on the game?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, you know, I thought, again, Jarred (Vanderbilt) and Wenyen (Gabriel), just go get balls, and Jarred is — you know, and I told him after. I said, “You know, you’re a beast and what you did and how you changed the game.” I said, “There’s some shots you tried to shoot. Just don’t shoot them if they are not a dunk layup or something you can easily make. Don’t force it because everything else you’re doing is great.” You know, it’s nice to have another passer on the floor, and he’s a willing passer.
Today I went with a big lineup. I went with a scoring lineup, like the best team that I could put on that could play offense, and then I just hoped that they could guard a little bit, but I just put — I’m trying whatever I can to see if we can crack through this.
And again, I thought Nick (Richards) started the game really well. Sacha (Killeya-Jones) went in and got a great rebound. It was a big play, that rebound he got.
But it’s, you know, Quade (Green) and Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), and those guys, made some shots. Wenyen, poor Wenyen, it doesn’t seem like he can make a three with his feet in the water shooting it in the ocean right now. You know, but he will. I mean, he’s making 60 in five minutes (shooting). He gets in the game and he just can’t make them.
Q. It seemed like Vanderbilt came out a little nervous like he has been in every game, but then once he made a few shots, he settled down.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah.
Q. Is this the player you’ve been looking for?
COACH CALIPARI: And he’s got to slow down some, too. Just slow down. I mean, it doesn’t — it means, play fast but don’t be in a hurry. I want you to fly but don’t be in a hurry, and sometimes he gets anxious. He starts running and his mind is moving as fast as his feet.
But I’ll tell you, he is a — I’ll tell you who I’ll compare him to: Dennis Rodman. That’s who he is. How about this, be Dennis Rodman. He did all right. He can guard every position. He rebounds offensively. Defensively he can pass. He’s skilled. Made his free throws.
So until the very end, we really — it was nice to see us go to the line and not have the other team go 1-2,, and us go, 0-0, and then they go 2-2 and we go 1-2. It starts demoralizing you. Today either the right guys were at the line or more guys just made free throws.
Q. Can you talk about the play of Quade (Green), it seemed like to this untrained eye late in the game he played as good of defense as he’s played?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, what it’s amazing, he did. What he can do is bother the ball. So he got up there and bothered the ball and did a good job. Yeah, I was proud. The only thing that got me mad, was he missed the free throw, and then gave up a layup. I mean, immediately.
Was he mad about the layup or the free throw? The free throw. And I went nuts. That’s our problem right now. You’re more concerned about you than us. You missed a free throw. So what. You gave up a layup. That don’t bother you, it’s okay. Can you believe I missed that free throw? That’s what we’re kind of busting through right now.
But his shooting and his ability to make shots, four assists, no turns, made every right play. He and Shea on the court together are pretty good.
Q. After the Auburn game, you were asked about being so composed, even with the losing streak. Now you know your team better than anybody else.
COACH CALIPARI: We had a losing streak? (Laughter).
Q. Four games.
COACH CALIPARI: Whoo.
Q. You know your team better than anybody else but they seem to play with a little bit more of a sense of urgency. I think Coach Johnson said desperation today. Is it possible that when they see their head coach so composed that may tone them down? Maybe they need a sense of panic every once in a while.
COACH CALIPARI: I keep telling them, this is not about me. My job is to help each individual player get better and have a team that understands for everyone to benefit, they have to do this together. This is a basketball team. It’s a team sport more than any other sport out there and it happens real fast.
If you’re not about each other, your mind is not going to move quick enough to be about your team. Your mind is always thinking about yourself. You’ve got to lose yourself in the team and I keep saying to them, you know, this thing gets going, and we start taking this to the next level, it’s not changing me. But it puts those guys in a different light.
If we struggle, I mean, maybe some people mad at me and that’s fine. But it doesn’t change — for them, it really is devastating at time. It’s about you getting better. It’s not about what I am, what I do. This team has to be empowered at some point. I thought they felt a little bit but I had to stop them at times and drag, drag, drag. They don’t see some of the stuff. They are just kind of playing at times.
But they played desperate. Let me say, we gave away some games this year. I mean, I can — you know, I can tell you that we had leads late and just gave the game away. We have to start taking games from people, which means desperation and I told them that prior to the game. We gave some away and now we’ve got to take some back. Got to go get some, and this was a good one.
This team, again, seventh in the country on defense, No. 1 on defense in our league, and we did all right. And we made some shots we had to make, but the biggest thing is, we are what we are. Like let’s go get rebounds. Forget about missing shots. Go rebound. We’ve got 20 offensive rebounds. That was like the difference in the game.
Q. Usually when we’re talking about Gilgeous-Alexander, it’s about his scoring, but today he had four rebounds, four assists, only one —
COACH CALIPARI: And big ones. You remember that one that was bouncing around in the middle? Now there was another one that one of my guards looked at that came right to him at the elbow in front of their bench and he never went after it and I went berserk because loose balls are why we lost at Auburn. They got every one of them and we still have guys that don’t think there’s an importance to that, going in, well, I thought so and. So well, hit heads with him. Two of you hit heads going after the ball then, do that.
But he came up with balls. Still, his decision-making on some of these plays late, you know, he had a turnover, when there was a chance, he could have thrown the ball to Quade, I tried to lob it to Jarred; turnover. And there are other plays, and we’re working hard on him coming to stops and doing different things.
Now, I’ll tell you, these guys have been in in the mornings and evenings and working on their own and they have been spending the extra time and it’s starting to show.
Now we’ve got another game. Now we’ve got to go to Arkansas who is beating the crap out of somebody right now. It’s going to be a hard game for us. It’s another hard game. Let me say this, there are no easy games in this league, none. And this league should get nine teams in.
You had a team that lost, and they said — and they he had is if Bam (Adebayo) was still here, we would have lost again. Oh, hey, Bam, I didn’t see you back there.
Well, they lost to so and so in the league, and that means they are out of the NCAA Tournament. What? That team that they were talking about, Vanderbilt, had us beat twice. It’s crazy. Whether it’s South Carolina, whoever it is, these, this league from top to bottom, nine teams, let’s go. We should have the same respect that all these other leagues are getting with this league this year.
I think our strength of schedule is still five in the country with all freshmen, five. Our RPI is probably 15. Wait a minute, you lost four in a row; you wanted to jump off a bridge. I know but think about who we lost to: At A&M, at Auburn, Tennessee at home, at Missouri. I mean, if we’d have won one, I probably would have been surprised.
You’d like to win the home game but we didn’t. But getting this one, you know, like I told them, hopefully it makes them feel better but it better not make them arrogant. This is like, hey, feel that we’re making strides. My thing, are we getting better; you have people that know nothing about basketball, only if we won or lost, and they will go nuts.
I’m not listening to them. You don’t — what, you just want to know won or lost. Are you seeing that the team is getting better? Now, you may say, well, you’d better do a better job late because your team is giving you a chance to win and you keep dropping these games. Okay, you can put that on me. But the reality of it is, we’re getting better. We are. Now, I’m getting older, and I’m getting very tired. But we are getting better as a team.
Q. You’ve talked to us really from the beginning about players-first program. How do you balance nurturing Hamidou Diallo along for him versus what the team needs and was today a step forward for him?
COACH CALIPARI: All right. So let’s think about, it’s your son, and he’s struggling. It’s your son now, not somebody else’s son, your son. Would you want me to just bench him and say, we’ll worry about it next year? That’s what you’d want me to do with your son.
I would say, you’d say: Hey, coach, he’s responsible for himself but please keep coaching him and let him know you love him and keep being there for him but hold him accountable. If he’s not going to listen to you, you should not play him.
That’s what I think a parent, who is not trying to enable their son; who says, well, he takes him out, if you didn’t take him out, he takes you out — that parent is killing their son versus making them be responsible for who they are.
In his case, I’m with Hami. He’s trying. He’s working. He’s got some habits that are so bad, and they are habits; that they pop out sometimes at the wrong time. My job is to make sure he’s not hurting the team — ready for this — or himself, and to keep working with him. But when I go in my office at 10 o’clock at night or 11, I’d better see him in there every once in a while, and you know what, I am.
Now, if he’s willing to do that and put in extra time and extra work, I’m for him. Now, if you’re playing all of, I may not play you as much. But I’m going to play you, and if you are doing what we’re asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you. That is someone’s son, just like the others. Now, it would probably be easier when a guy plays poorly, just say you’re out and I’m going with these seven.
I’m just not going to do that. I’m just not. I told Wenyen and Sacha today, yesterday and prior to the game, I need you to rebound, set screens, block some shots and run like crazy. If one of you is doing it more than the other, that’s who is playing. I don’t care if you score or dunk or do whatever. A big play was Nick got out-rebounded on a free throw. What did they do with that free throw? Three-point. “How did that happen?”
“He ran around me.”
“Okay, Sacha, you go in. See if you can do it.”
I mean, this isn’t hard. I’m telling you, you rebound, you run that floor, you defend it like crazy, set great screens. Everything else is a bonus. If you can’t do those, I’m playing the other guy. If both of you can’t do those, I’m playing somebody else.
So it’s clear what they need to do, and I’m trying to be honest with them. But I have to — you know, these guys, they are all freshmen. They were a little bit scattered now, a little bit rattled. If they looked at me and I was like, oh, it’s going to be five and (imitating crying) how would they have played today? I mean, think about it? How would they have played?
I’m like, I’m old now. I used to be the young coach. I am now the old coach. I’ve been through just about everything you could be through, including absolute about a bazuka shots from the media my whole career. No, bazuka shots, agenda-driven stuff, my whole career. And I’m old now. If you shoot me now, it goes through a bazuka hole that’s in my body and doesn’t even hit bone. It doesn’t hit anything.
So at the end of the day, this is about these kids, how do I help — how do I help Hami? How do I help Sacha and Nick?
Now, I’ll tell you what becomes hard is if they are going to listen to somebody else. Can you help them now? You can’t help them. And if they are listening to an enabler, whoever that enabler is, I can’t help you. I’m going to tell you, I’m going to – Willie (Cauley-Stein) was in the gym and so was Bam.
Is Bam still back there? I asked both of them, in front of my team: “Why did you trust me? Why, Willie, did you trust me?”
You know what he did, he pointed to all the NBA players on the wall. “That’s why I trusted you.”
Why don’t they trust me? I’ve got a couple guys in here that do not trust me right now. Why? Bam, you never got the ball. And you trusted me. And Miami thinks they have got the best player in the draft.
“So tell me why you trusted me.”
He said, “I didn’t trust you.” Yeah, he did. He didn’t say that. (Laughter).
These are steps at a time. You can’t skip steps. I’m happy we won. It would have been a tough loss, but you know what, if we got better, and we did something at the end, I would have taken responsibility and we move on. I’m not putting this on these kids. They are all young. I can take it. I’m older. I’ve been through the wars. I can take the heat. I’ve got some calls that people like, these people — like I don’t read it, so I don’t know. Am I getting attacked? Is anybody attacking me?
Well, I’ve got friends calling. They are probably sensitive. I don’t know because I don’t read it. But if you are, be mad at me. Don’t be mad at the kids. Be mad at me. I recruited them. I’m coaching them. I’m the one that’s buying time for guys which may be costing us some games but I’m going to continue to do it. I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first, and I’m trying to stay that course.
But, they are responsible for themselves. If they can’t perform, I’m going to play you but when you’re not performing, you can’t be in there. I mean, it’s pretty simple.
Q. Along those lines of trust, you were talking about — Shai said yesterday it’s going to be up to each individual guy to decide to trust you. You said, I can’t trust him for you. Is he one guy that has —
COACH CALIPARI: Did you see, he did a Tony Barbee move today. Tony Barbee used to run down the other side of the court for me. So when he screwed up, he would just go down the other side. He’d never come to this — “Tony!!!” — and he’d be down the other side of the court and act like he couldn’t hear me. He go like this, what? They are shooting free throws.
Today, Shai did it, the last play where he dribbled down the sideline and threw a course court bullet across that almost got stolen in a nine-point game, they could have made a three; 30 seconds, all of a sudden it’s six, we miss two free throws, it’s another three and I could see us going into overtime and us losing because my man dribbled down the sideline when we work every day on driving it to the middle of the court. He knew what he did. He saw it. He waved the guys over. He walked on the other side, if you watch, he got in the fall lane on the other side and never looked at me and I was yelling to him. He would not look at me and then I got him at the end if you saw. I said, “Get over here” when he was in the middle of the court.
He did a Tony Barbee. He is one, that he’s right, like he trusts, he’s totally bought into, what do you want me to do. He’s still at the end of games got to make better decisions, but that’s us helping him.
Q. How important is having a post presence down the stretch in a a close game and how well did P.J. give you that?
COACH CALIPARI: He did and early on he bumbled balls and turned it over. He had five turnovers today and they were all like fumbles balls and maybe a charge. He and Wenyen had nine of our 13 turnovers. We had 13 turnovers and those two had nine. When the game got in the balance, P.J. made every play he was supposed to make. We need him to play 40 minutes that way, or 30, whatever minutes he’s playing.
But even if he’s playing poorly, I have all the faith in the world to go to him and that’s what we did. We went at him.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
#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.”
Alabama Coach Avery Johnson Quotes
Opening statement …
“I’ll be brief. Kentucky played an outstanding game. Especially with their offensive rebounding, we knew coming into the game that we had to slow them down and transition and really do a great job on the board. Unfortunately this wasn’t our best night rebounding. They made us pay the price for it. They got great production from their bench, specifically (Jarred) Vanderbilt and PJ (Washington), but again we played some pretty good defense overall, we just couldn’t get the rebound. We pride ourselves on being a good defensive team, and had we’d have been able to get some more of those rebounds we thought we could got out in transition and hurt them on their transition defense. Give them credit, they played like a really hungry basketball team, lots of energy. We didn’t play out best game, but we still have a high, high ceiling, another level to go to on both ends of the floor. We showed flashes of it, and hopefully in the next week or two we’ll get there.”
On Jarred Vanderbilt offensively …
“You know, he was a guy that we had a couple of stars by his name in the scouting report, and I know you’ll say, ‘Coach, did you really have stars by his name?’ Yes, and I know everybody talks about (Kevin) Knox and obviously (Shai Gilgeous-) Alexander and what they can do offensively, but in games like this you need a utility guy. If you measure our success, it’s not always about (John) Petty or (Collin) Sexton or Donta (Hall). It’s guys like Dazon Ingram and Braxton Key and Herb Jones. Their utility guy was huge for them tonight, five offensive rebounds. We thought we had a couple of stops there at the end, but he either gets the rebound or he keeps it alive. Basically had a double-double almost, one rebound short, but that’s why we were really concerned about (Jarred) Vanderbilt.”
On defense on Kevin Knox …
“Well in the second half, the first play of the second half, we didn’t get any protection behind our pick-and-roll coverage. We just got to do a better job of finding guys like him, and I thought they did a nice job of trying to move him around a little bit. He wasn’t just a three-point shooter. They posted him up. He was aggressive at trying to take the ball to the basket. Sometimes you get benched. That’s a great teacher. The bench, right?”
On what is your assessment of the Kentucky team and how far you think they can go in the tournament …
“Well, they are still a dangerous team, having the depth and the length and size that they have on their team. It’s just a matter of if they can make some boards. We did a pretty good job of defending at the three point line, but they beat us up on board. We have a team that’s capable, where everybody on the team gets an offensive rebound. A bunch of second chance points, and it should’ve been even more if it wasn’t for our interior defense. The one thing about the SEC and this is what I was sharing with some of the guys. They may have four losses, but they weren’t against a YMCA team. They played Missouri, Tennessee, A&M, Auburn. Pretty good teams, right? We had the chance to win in a tough environment. We have got to be better in the last four minutes of a game, but this is a tough team. They are still a tournament team. There are 82 teams in the tournament, and that’s why it’s important for us to win games and continue to build a resume.
On The last four minutes of the game …
“I think they didn’t take care of the ball in terms of ball security. We got two defenders on the ball; we didn’t make the right play to the open man. I don’t know if it was sped up, we just need to give their defense some credit.
On what you saw on rebounding …
“We’re not good enough to win a jumping contest with a team. We jumped as high as we could they just jumped a little bit higher. Had it not been for 20 offensive rebounds, it probably would’ve been something different. It means we can run more and transition with the way we can run and transition. More shots at the basket, and they wont have as many second chance points.
Donta Hall, #0, F
On getting the ball more down low in the second half …
“I had to rebound to score the ball more; and work them on the boards.”
John Petty, #23, G
On why they were getting so many boards …
“They just outworked us on the boards, they were the hungrier team; we just go to come back next game and outwork the next opponent.”
On the last couple of minutes …
“I think we just got caught up in the moment, we start rushing and moving too fast. We really wasn’t paying attention, we had plenty of time, we just let the game speed us up and we made careless turnovers.”
On how he felt about playing in Rupp Arena and what did Coach Cal say to him after the game …
“It felt great, always been a good atmosphere here, great fans. He didn’t really say anything to me after the game, we shook hands, he said good game and that was it.”