- Tuesday, January 23 2001 -
Kentucky - 60 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||9||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||1||0|
Alabama - 70 (Head Coach: Mark Gottfried) - [Ranked 18th by AP]
|Terrance "Doc" Martin||28||4||5||2||2||2||2||3||3||6||2||0||1||0||2||12|
Halftime Score: Alabama 32, Kentucky 25
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Mississippi 55 - 65|||||Vanderbilt 86 - 75|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats Blow It
A lot of things can change in five minutes. Last night in Tuscaloosa, that's just about how long it took for Kentucky to blow a seven point lead and drop their second consecutive SEC road game and lose by ten. With 5:36 remaining in the game, Kentucky had scratched and clawed its way to a 54-47 lead. Rod Grizzard, who had been sitting on the bench, saddled with four fouls, re-entered the game with a message for his point guard. "I was like, 'Tarik, get me the ball,"' said Grizzard after scoring 11 consecutive points to rally Alabama to a 70-60 victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night. "It was my time." Tarik London complied, and Grizzard hit a 3-pointer and eight consecutive free throws in the final five minutes. Grizzard finished with 25 points and a career-high 11 rebounds despite picking up his fourth foul with 13 minutes left and going to the bench until the 6:39 mark.
"We just didn't show much toughness going down the stretch, and Rod Grizzard, obviously, is a very good player," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said,"Rod Grizzard came back and hit a big 3 over Tayshaun. I thought that was big shot. You could see their energy level go up when their star player came back in the game and produced a big play."
"It was a good win for us tonight," said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried. "I'm happy for our players and I think they're growing up. They played well offensively and defensively."
For most of the second half, Alabama looked beaten. The turning point came when Grizzard hit that clutch three-pointer to pull the Tide to within four, "I thought that was the shot of the game," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said of the 3-pointer. "His 3-pointer got our emotions back in the game." Grizzard capped a 13-0 run with a jumper. Taking over the game, he said, is "what I do." "That's what they look to me for," he said. "Either we're going to go down shooting or we're going to win it." Grizzard, the SEC's leading free-throw shooter, was 10-for-11 from the line and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He calmly nailed eight consecutive free throws in the final 4:00.
In addition to Grizzard's blistering hot hand, the Wildcats hurt themselves with poorly timed, ill-advised fouls at critical times, "We started fouling them almost like we were behind instead of ahead by seven," said an exasperated Tubby Smith, "I never thought the game was under control, but I thought we were in good position to coax them to come out and foul us. But we played right into their hands by fouling them."
Kentucky's record fell to 10-7 (3-2 in the SEC). The Wildcats were beaten soundly on the boards as its big men failed to beat their Alabama counterparts to the ball, "(Rebounding) was an area we worked extremely hard on because they're such an outstanding rebounding team, "Smith said, "We challenged our team to do a better job in the second half, but they didn't."
The game served as a homecoming of sorts for Huntsville native Marvin Stone, who had 11 points and led the Cats with 4 rebounds, "I thought Marvin did a good job," coach Smith said, "He was mixing it up inside, and he played hard. He had a good game, a good homecoming, against some very athletic players."
Also returning home was UK assistant coach David Hobbs, who had coached the Crimson Tide. The 51-year-old Hobbs spent 13 years at Alabama, the first seven as an assistant to Wimp Sanderson from 1985-92, and the next six as Alabama's head coach from 1992-98. Hobbs spent the last two years in Richmond, Va., enjoying his personal life as he assessed his professional future. "It'll be different for me," Hobbs said before the team left Lexington. "I didn't think a lot about this game until now. I didn't circle the date when I got the job. I haven't tried to make it anything other than what it is. It's a conference game."
But Alabama fans thought of this game as more than just another conference game. Fans turned out in record numbers. London, a senior who had seven assists, said the season-high crowd of 14,434 played a big part in the game. "It was the most electric crowd I've ever played in front of," he said. "When we got down and needed them to gave us a big push, and they did that. They paid big dividends for us."
Kentucky returns to the friendly confines of Rupp Arena to face Vanderbilt, before hitting the road again for two more tough games against Georgia and South Carolina, "This game was disappointing... We just didn't play very smart," Coach Smith said, "We just have to go back to the drawing board and find a way to get tougher and win on the road."
Keith Bogans defends a shot by Alabama's Rod Grizzard (#21)