Alabama Beats Defending National Champion Wildcats 59-55

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Tuscaloosa, Ala. – In a game that went back and forth throughout, the Alabama men’s basketball team defeated Kentucky 59-55 Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama is now 12-6 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play while Kentucky drops to 12-6, with a 3-2 mark in the SEC.

“I’m just really proud of our guys’ effort,” UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. “There was great energy in the building, and there was a lot of emotion, and I thought our emotion got the best of us in the first half. A thing we talked about at halftime was calming down. Just understand it’s a basketball game just like any other game and we have to do the things that we do that allow us to have success. I thought we did that in the second half.”

Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs had 14 points coming off the bench to go with five rebounds. Junior guard Trevor Releford added 13 points to the Crimson Tide’s total. Sophomore guard Levi Randolph scored 11 points by going 4-8 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line. Junior center Moussa Gueye had a season-high five blocks, as well as five rebounds and four points.

Trailing 33-24 at halftime, the Tide rebounded in the second half. Jacobs played a big part in Alabama’s latest comeback, finishing the night with six straight field goals after getting his first three shots of the night blocked by Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel. Alabama’s defense in the second half came up big again. Kentucky shot 48.3% (14-29) in the first half, and only 29.6% (8-27) in the second half.

The game tightened up in the second half, with eight ties and six lead changes.  Alabama, which came away with 10 steals on the night and 11 points off turnovers, is now 11-1 this season when they grab eight or more steals. The Tide also broke Kentucky’s streak of 53 straight wins when leading at the half, a mark that included a 12-0 record this season.

“I thought our defense was solid [in the second half], we set it in, we started to guard, we got stops, we got good effort from a lot of different guys on the defensive end, and we made enough plays from an offensive standpoint,” Grant said.

Kentucky sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer led the Wildcats with 14 points off the bench, to go with seven rebounds. Freshman Nerlens Noel had eight points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks.

Alabama plays again Saturday (Jan. 26) against Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., as the Tide look to win its fifth SEC game in a row. Tipoff is set for 1:00 PM.

Courtesy UT Media Relations

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