By Chris DePew
March 11, 2016
The third time was no charm for Alabama against the Kentucky Wildcats, as the Crimson Tide faded down the stretch of an 85-59 loss in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Nashville.
What did we learn today?: How big the gap is between Alabama and a Final Four contender. The Tide may have been blown out by UK for the third time this season, but there was no shame in Friday’s effort. Bama competed hard and hung with Kentucky until almost midway through the second half, but the Cats were just on another level. Three players had 17 or more points and eight made the score sheet as UK shot 54.5 percent from the floor. The Wildcats put on a passing clinic, rolling up 18 assists with only seven turnovers. And with Bama determined to plug the lane after being embarrassed twice before by the frontcourt, Kentucky caught fire from behind the arc, going 13-for-22. There might not have been a college team that could have handled the Cats on Friday.
What were the biggest concerns?: Too many players went missing on offense again. Arthur Edwards and Retin Obasohan were the only players to score in double figures. Shannon Hale had a respectable eight points (although he again managed to finish with zero rebounds) but nobody else managed more than four points. Obasohan again encountered first half foul trouble, this time on a pair of dubious offensive whistles, and only had one of his 18 points in the first half. Riley Norris and Justin Coleman, arguably Bama’s two best players in the Ole Miss win, each went 0-for-5 from the field against UK.
What was the best part of the game?: Granted it is hard to generate rebounds when you shoot as well as the Cats did, but Alabama held its own on the glass, tying Kentucky 33-33. The Crimson Tide gameplan was to make UK earn its points via jump shots, and while it was disappointing to see Kentucky light it up from deep, it was a sensible strategy against a team that is only 10th in the SEC in 3-point attempts and makes. Avery Johnson admitted in the postgame press conference his front line has “a long ways to go” but this at least was a foundation to build on,
Who was the star?: Edwards looked so comfortable shooting in Bridgestone Arena that the Nashville Predators may want to give him a try on the power play. He went 6-got-10 from 3-point range and ended with a team-high 20 points. That comes after his 17-point performance against Ole Miss on Thursday, leaving him at 12-for-20 for the tournament.
What’s next?: The Crimson Tide returns home and waits to see whether it is included in the 32-team NIT field. The selection show on ESPNU begins Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris