BBL: Alabama’s guards outplay Kentucky’s guards

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Jerry Tipton of Herald-Leader: “In a one-point game with two minutes to play, Kentucky did not score again until the final nine seconds. What better evidence could a 59-55 loss at Alabama Tuesday night provide that this freshman-dependent UK team doesn’t have a so-called go-to guy? When asked who the Cats intended to lead the way down the stretch, UK Coach John Calipari said in a quiet voice, ‘We don’t even know yet.’”

Matt May of the Cats Pause: “John Calipari’s teams have always been defined by their guard play but he’s finding life much more difficult and frustrating this season with the continued inconsistency of Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow. The two guards combined to score 13 points on 5-of-24 shooting, continually driving into a thicket of Alabama defenders before flinging the ball in the general direction of the basket while trying to draw a foul. Correct calls or not, the officiating crew allowed an abundance of contact all night and were mostly consistent in that approach, which UK coach John Calipari said he told his two young guards over and over again as he implored them to shoot runners and pull-up jumpers. Goodwin and Harrow never adjusted.”

Kyle Tucker of Courier-Journal: “UK whiffed in every category, reverting to bad habits that had been on the mend. Despite another stat-stuffing night — eight points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks — Noel was back to biting on every ball fake and launching himself into orbit in crunch time. ‘I should have stayed on my feet and stayed disciplined,’ Noel said. ‘I definitely owed that to my team.’”

Brett Dawson of Cats Illustrated: “Alabama (12-6, 4-1) never led by more than seven points, and that margin came with 13 seconds to play in the game. The Crimson Tide trailed 33-22 with 3:34 to play in the first half and took a 35-34 lead with 13:29 to play in the second. From there, it was anyone’s game. The Tide took it. Kentucky couldn’t.”

Kevin Scarbinsky of Birmingham News: “Who’s giving the halftime speeches in the home-team locker room here – Anthony Grant or George S. Patton? Or were you thinking Nick Saban? No fire and brimstone was necessary, Grant said. He thought the emotion of the evening overwhelmed his team’s execution in the first half so intermission was more about calming his players than igniting them. Mission accomplished. It’s becoming a habit.”

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News: “There weren’t many statistical categories in which Alabama surpassed Kentucky on Tuesday night. But there is no line on the statistics sheet that measures intestinal fortitude. Alabama overcame an 11-point first-half deficit by making the game a battle of wills and gradually overcame visiting Kentucky 59-55, giving the Crimson Tide its fourth straight win in Southeastern Conference play.”

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