- Wednesday, February 2 1994 -
Alabama - 67 (Head Coach: David Hobbs) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 82 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Halftime Score: Alabama 37, Kentucky 36
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Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 3 No. 22. (All Rights Reserved)
Cats Capsize Crimson Tide:
Alabama put on a fine first half display of basketball in every area except ball control (they had 16 turnovers), but once again Kentucky came through in the second half to record an 82-67 win. This was Kentucky's 33rd home victory in a row (Indiana continues to maintain the longest streak in the nation, recording their 40th consecutive victory against Ohio State last night) [JNB note - of course it was also ESPN announcers who said that IU got its 40th vs. Minnesota last week. I don't know what number to believe now! :-)]
Alabama had won their previous 5 games in a row, and they got off to a good start against the Cats with extremely fast, physical play. Their freshman center, 6'9" 220 lb. Antonio McDyess, put on a phenomenal show in the first half, going 6-6 and working relatively unmolested in the absence of a true UK big man. He wore a mask to protect a cheekbone broken in an earlier game.
UK did poorly in the first half from 3 point range, going 0-10! Pitino had challenged Delk to drive to the basket more often (like Rhodes), and he responded in this game, getting several scores this way. Rhodes also worked hard in low post moves, but he also had several steals which resulted in easy breakaway baskets. Gimel Martinez had a couple of turnovers on a bobbled Rhodes pass and a poorly controlled rebound, and he did not look good early on. Jeff Sheppard also did poorly when he first came in, walking and committing a charge.
There were several flurries of activity under both team's baskets which did not result in scoring. On one amusing play, McCarty lost the ball but it went right to Jeff Brassow who shot it in while falling down, and he was fouled. His FT put UK up 20-18. Kentucky's pressing started to bother the Tide a bit, and they picked up additional turnovers as the half wore on. At one point, Riddick air-balled a FT attempt but made another. He had 6 rebounds by halftime.
Travis Ford made many more bad passes and poor decisions regarding penetration in heavy traffic which cost UK. Neither he nor Delk could hit 3 point shots, but fortunately the Tide couldn't either. Kentucky forced 16 Tide turnovers in the opening period, committing 11 themselves. Bama had a 37-36 halftime lead. Just before the half, Rhodes had one of his shots blocked by an Alabama player named Roy Rogers! [JNB note - I guess ol' Rodrick wasn't quick enough on the Trigger...sorry. :-)]. There were 10 lead changes during the first half.
In what is almost becoming a Kentucky trademark, UK hit back hard to start the second half with what would eventually blossom into a 21-5 spurt, led by more Rhodes steals and drives, and several Delk shots. McDyess missed his first shot in the second half, and the very aggressive trapping UK press forced more and more Bama miscues. Tony Delk finally connected on Kentucky's first 3 pointer to put the Cats up 45-39. Alabama cut Kentucky's lead to 3 on a few occasions, but good shooting by Riddick and Rhodes pushed the Cats out to 51-45 lead. Then freshman Anthony Epps hit a driving basket and a 3 to put UK up 56-45, and it was all over but the shouting.
Alabama might have been obliterated in the second half, had it not been for very poor UK rebounding and blocking out which gave the Tide many scoring attempts on individual possessions, which they usually cashed in on. Prickett was almost totally useless in this game, scoring no points and getting no rebounds (but making several turnovers) by the time he acquired his 4th foul. Martinez on one occasion lost the ball in the paint when he brought it down low while attempting to twist around the defenders (this was one of Pitino's complaints about Gimel on his weekly TV program - see the Odds and Ends article below). Travis Ford missed another free throw in this game (he has become quite human since his long string was ended!).
UK led by as many as 17 at 77-60 before settling down for a 15 point victory, 82-67. The 24 turnovers committed by Alabama was a new school record. Riddick had 5 blocks, and helped keep UK on pace as the SEC's leading team in blocked shots.
Anthony Epps defends against Alabama's Jamal Faulkner