The Kentucky Wildcats recorded their 100th all-time victory in SEC play Saturday with a 76-67 win over Alabama at Rupp Arena.
The Wildcats got off to a 4-0 lead early after a Keion Brooks jumper and Nick Richards bucket in the post. Kentucky would take an 8-4 lead into the first media timeout of the half after jump shots from EJ Montgomery and Ashton Hagans.
Alabama would tie the game at eight after the quick break as Alex Reese hit a pair of free-throws, and Kira Lewis Jr. scored in the paint. The Tide would then take the lead as Lewis dunked home a pair of fast-break points to force a UK timeout with 14:11 left in the half.
After the John Calipari timeout, Kentucky promptly tied the game at 10 with a Tyrese Maxey jumper. Kentucky would retake the lead after Hagans was fouled on back to back possessions and knocked down three out of four free-throw attempts. Soon after, Kentucky made it an 8-0 run thanks to a three-pointer from Nate Sestina. After a Immanuel Quickley jump shot, the Wildcats took an 18-12 lead into the second media timeout of the half.
Kentucky’s hot shooting continued after the short break as Sestina drilled another three to put Kentucky up nine. The Tide would answer back with buckets by Lewis and Herbert Jones to cut the lead down to five. Kentucky would extend the lead back to eight with a Quickley three, but Alabama answered right back with a three of their own from Jaylen Forbes to cut the lead to 24-19. The Wildcat lead would be cut down to three before the timeout after Lewis hit a layup and drew a foul.
With the lead cut to two, EJ Montgomery delivered a baseline jumper to make it 28-24 UK. The Cats would extend the lead to six as Richards also knocked down a shot from the baseline. Kentucky would take a nine-point lead into the final media timeout of the half after Quickley knocked down a three to put UK on top 37-28.
The Wildcats would take a 10 point lead into halftime as Maxey nailed a three for UK, and John Petty answered back with a three of his own for the Tide.
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, Alabama 35
The second half got off to a quiet start as neither team found the scoreboard until the 18:10 mark when Kentucky’s Montgomery scored from close range. Kentucky’s offense would heat up after the Montgomery basket as Maxey scored on a putback and Quickley nailed a three to give Kentucky a 15 point lead. The lead would be cut down to 13 before the first media timeout after a Javian Davis lay-up.
After the timeout, Alabama began to chip away at Kentucky’s lead with a pair of quick baskets. The Tide continued to close the gap as Lewis connected from close range to give Alabama a 10-2 run and cut Kentucky’s lead to seven. Kentucky would take a nine-point lead into the second media timeout of the half after a Maxey baseline jumper.
Alabama would cut Kentucky’s down to seven after the break with a Petty jumper. Then, a monster one-handed slam by Alabama’s Alex Reese cut the lead to 57-52 with under nine minutes to play. Kentucky pushed the lead back to seven with a Maxey score, but Alabama again responded as Jones scored in the paint and drew a foul to make it 59-54, heading into the media timeout of the half.
Jones would knock down his free throw attempt after the timeout to cut Kentucky lead to four. Kentucky would twice push the lead back to six, but the Tide answered each UK basket to keep the lead at four. With the lead cut down to three, the Cats got a massive shot out of Quickley, who nailed his fourth three of the game to put Kentucky back up by six. The lead would be cut down to four before the final media timeout of the game after a Jones lay-up was followed by a Hagans three for UK and Petty three for Alabama
After a Hagans free throw, Alabama answered back and cut the lead to three with just over two minutes to play after Petty forced a Richards goaltend. With a four-point lead with 1:01 to play, Calipari called a timeout as he looked to draw a up a play to put the game away.
Calipari’s play worked to perfection after the timeout as Quickley nailed a three to give UK a seven-point lead with under a minute to play. Quickley would put the game away for good at the free-throw line as he gave the Cats a nine-point lead they would not surrender.
Final Score: Kentucky 76, Alabama 67
MVP: Immanuel Quickley
Whenever Kentucky needed a big shot, Saturday Immanuel Quickley delivered. Quickley finished the game 5-6 from downtown, including a dagger three with under a minute to play. He led all scorers with 19 points to lead UK to victory.
Honorable Mention: Ashton Hagans
Ashton Hagans flirted with a triple-double Saturday as he dropped 15 points, grabbed a carer high nine rebounds and recorded nine assists to help guide Kentucky to their fourth straight win.