Kentucky 55, Alabama 48
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Power forward Julius Randle had his 17th double-double of the season and No. 25 Kentucky survived its poorest offensive half of the season to top Alabama 55-48 at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.
Randle finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. His two free throws with 3:10 to play gave Kentucky a 55-47 lead. The Wildcats did not score after that, but Alabama was just as cold and mustered only one free throw in the final five minutes.
Alabama guard Trevor Releford’s free throw with 2:46 to play was Alabama’s final point.
The Tide led 32-28 lead with 19 minutes to play, but a 15-2 run capped by center Willie Cauley-Stein’s putback dunk with 9:58 left gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the night.
Senior reserves Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood served as Kentucky’s starting guards on senior night and the two scored the team’s first two baskets, both 3-pointers. But Kentucky’s offense remained as cold as it was in a 72-67 upset loss at South Carolina on Saturday.
After Polson hit a 3-pointer to give Kentucky a 6-4 lead with 16 minutes to go in the first half, the Wildcats went the next six minutes without a field goal.
Meanwhile, Releford had the hot hand. He scored nine points in the first 10 minutes and led the Crimson Tide to a first-half lead as large as four points.
Even though Kentucky’s offense was ice cold, the Crimson Tide could not create space. Alabama went into the locker room at halftime with a 28-25 lead, but the deficit could have been much worse than three points for the Wildcats.
Kentucky was 6 of 25 from the floor in the first half, but 11-of-15 first-half foul shooting kept the Wildcats in the game.
NOTES: Kentucky has never lost three games in a row under coach John Calipari. The Wildcats lost Thursday at home to Arkansas and on the road Saturday to South Carolina. … G Jarrod Polson and G Jon Hood started on senior night. It was Hood’s first career start. A fifth-year senior, Hood is the only player left from Calipari’s first signing class at Kentucky. … Alabama is 6-22 at Rupp Arena since it opened in 1976.
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