By Chris DePew
Feb. 11, 2017
Alabama held No. 15 Kentucky to more than 20 points below its scoring average but couldn’t find enough offense of its own in a 67-58 loss at Coleman Coliseum.
What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide isn’t taking the next big step forward until its freshmen take better care of the basketball. Thanks to a late flurry, Bama wound up shooting slightly better from the floor than the Wildcats (45.1 percent vs. 43.5) but it had four less baskets and 11 fewer shots. One big culprit was 16 turnovers, including five each from Dazon Ingram and Braxton Key. It’s a trend that is getting worse as the team goes deeper into the SEC schedule, but it’s hard for Avery Johnson to apply the typical treatment (i.e. bench time) because an already shaky offense goes further into its shell when one or both are out of the game.
What were the biggest concerns?: A 9-for-26 showing at the foul line completely undermined Bama’s promising strategy of driving to the basket and forcing UK into foul trouble. And while the frontline players were notably atrocious, that’s expected by now. But Ingram and Key were only a combined 6-for-12 as well. Until he fouled out, Alabama had few answers inside for Bam Adebayo on either end of the floor. Donta Hall continues to lose minutes due to ineffective play, collecting just four points and three rebounds. And the bench players did virtually nothing when they got their chance, shooting a combined 3-for-16 from the floor.
What was the best part of the game?: Driving to the basket to force whistles didn’t get the Crimson Tide the points it needed from the foul line, but it did pay off by opening the lane in the closing minutes. Adebayo fouled out with 6:04 left and Isaac Humphries picked up his fourth moments later. With Kentucky’s shot blockers absent, Bama began attacking the paint with glee, scoring 19 points from that point on. By contrast, the Tide only had 20 points in the entire first half.
Who was the star?: No one benefited from Kentucky’s foul trouble more than Key. Held to six points midway through the second half, he finished with 21 on 8-for-13 shooting.
What’s next?: After back-to-back games against Top 25 teams leading the conference, the schedule takes a sharp swing to the league’s two biggest cellar dwellers, beginning Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Central at Missouri on the SEC Network.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris