Alabama basketball remains unbeaten in SEC play with road win at Kentucky
Undefeated seasons are en vogue in Tuscaloosa, Ala. at the moment, and the Crimson Tide basketball team made sure to keep up with the latest fashion Tuesday night. Alabama extended its unbeaten conference run to five games with an 85-65 victory at Kentucky.
Alabama (10-3, 5-0) handed Kentucky (4-7, 3-1) its first conference loss of the season. The victory marks the Tide’s first win in Rupp Arena since 2006, snapping a string of eight straight road losses to the Wildcats. Alabama is currently riding a six-game winning streak, its longest string of victories since the 2014-15 season.
"Big win for our program," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "Looking at the schedule to start the year, I thought our first six games were probably the toughest six games in the league. If we could be 5-0 heading into a home game against Arkansas I certainly would have taken it. I'm proud of our guys."
While the Tide continued its hot run, the win might have come at a cost as it saw two starters leave the game due to injury.
Herbert Jones exited midway through the first half after he landed awkwardly on his left hand during a layup attempt. The senior appeared visibly upset on his way to the locker room and did not return to the game. Later in the game, Jordan Bruner suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury as he hobbled to the locker room midway through the second half. The starting forward exited the game with 11:33 left to play and did not return.
Jones’ injury comes after he had surgery on his left wrist last January. That setback caused the forward to miss three games before playing the final game with a cast on his left arm.
Jones was Alabama’s leading scorer with 8 points over eight minutes before picking up the injury. However, Alabama was able to survive his absence Tuesday night.
With its star forward in the locker room, the Tide went on a 13-1 run capped off by a 3 from Jaden Shackelford to build an early advantage. Following Jones’ injury, Alabama outscored Kentucky 25-15 over the remainder of the first half to take a 42-30 lead into the break.
The Tide extended its lead to 17 points in the second half as a 3 from Joshua Primo put the Tide up 53-36 with 15:02 remaining. Alabama would increase its lead to as many as 20 points on multiple occasions as it rolled to a rare rout in Lexington, Ky.
Alabama shot 46 percent from the floor, including 14 of 30 (47 percent) beyond the arc. The Tide was especially hot from deep in the first half, making 10 of 22 3-point shots before the break. Alabama also took advantage of 19 Kentucky turnovers, converting them into 29 points on the other end.
On top of the early exits from Jones and Bruner, Alabama was already without starting point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who has missed the past three games with an undisclosed medical condition.
Without the three starters, the Tide relied on senior John Petty, who scored a game-high 24 points while shooting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Shackelford and freshman Joshua Primo also recorded double figures with 18 points and 12 points respectively.
"Even though Herb went out, we still got leadership on our team — guys that have been through the system, that have been through these type of games that know what to do," Petty said. "So it's just a collective effort. Everybody holding each other accountable and everybody adapting to adversity. So I feel like all our guys did a great job with focusing and staying locked into the game plan to get the W."
Kentucky is currently mourning the loss of baseball player Ben Jordan, who walked on to the basketball team last season. Jordan, 22, passed away on Tuesday. No cause of death was given.
Next up for Alabama will be a home matchup against Arkansas as the Tide hosts the Razorbacks on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Following Tuesday night’s win, Oats provided updates on the status of Jones and Bruner. Both forwards are set to be evaluated Wednesday morning following their injuries.
“Herb's is a hand or finger injury and Bruner's got a knee deal that they're gonna get them up to Birmingham and have the guys look at the injuries in the morning," Oats said. “We’ll have an update hopefully by tomorrow afternoon.”
Oats was later asked if Jones underwent any X-rays at the game. The head coach said he believes the forward did not break a bone but could still be out for “a little while.” Oats said Jones’ injury does not involve his wrist which the forward had surgery on last January.
On a positive note for Alabama, Oats said he’s hopeful to get Quinerly back by Saturday’s game against Arkansas. The five-star point guard hasn’t played since the Jan. 2 game against Tennessee while dealing with his medical condition.
“We’re going to see,” Oats said of Quinerly’s status. “The training staff’s really stretched this year with everything going on. Hopefully one of those three (will be back), Bruner, Herb or Quinerly. But shoot, we had all three of them out for most of the second half today and we were able to pull away from a pretty good Kentucky team.”