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Alabama now has another “opportunity” to show its NCAA worth against Kentucky

UK Athletics Photo

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — Alabama overcame a 38-24 halftime deficit to know Mississippi out of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday night with a 62-57 victory that earns the Crimson Tide a match with Kentucky in the tourney quarterfinals Friday night.

Alabama outrebounded Ole Miss 50-30 after coach Avery Johnson went to a bigger lineup and outscored the Rebels 36-20 in the paint.

Kentucky lost at Alabama to open SEC play and now has a chance to avenge that defeat that UK freshman guard Ashton Hagans said Tuesday the Cats all wanted.

“We’ve had some tough matchups against Kentucky. Coming into the season, one of the things we talked about was we never had success against them in my four years here. That was a highly contested game (in regular season play),” Johnson said.

“Now we’ll have another opportunity to see if we can play a hard-nosed, tough game, with a lot of discipline. Hopefully our guys continue to pay attention to all the minor details. It’s just amazing how alert they’ve been in practice and even this morning in shootaround.

“I think we’ll be ready to go. We know we’re playing against an awfully tough opponent.”

Alabama got 21 points — including four 3-pointers — and six rebounds from Tevin Mack along with 15 rebounds and seven points from Donta Hall. Johnson played Galin Smith 29 minutes to keep a bigger lineup on the court and he had 11 points and seven rebounds. Point guard Kira Lewis had 13 points, four steals and three assists while Riley Norris had just two points but added nine rebounds, five assists and one steal.

Alabama likely needs at least one more win to get into the NCAA Tournament. Alabama is now 18-14 after going 8-10 in SEC play.

Johnson says his team has “no choice” but to be in desperation mode against UK.

“We have a really good résumé. I know the negative folks, they love, love, love, like the five percent or 10 percent, they like to focus on your ‘bad losses.’ We also have some outstanding wins,” Johnson said.

“Hopefully the outstanding wins trump any of our bad losses. We play in a tough conference. Maybe four years ago when I first arrived in the SEC, there’s no way in the world a team could go 8-10, make it to the tournament. Now it’s a different SEC. That’s why I think an eight or nine team also make it to the tournament. Hopefully we’ll get our names called.

“In the meantime we’re going to focus on how to play another outstanding basketball game tomorrow with hopefully a little less turnovers, better execution in both the first and second half.”

3 comments

  1. If we aren’t focused to play 2 quality halves from here on out, we will heading for exit ramps very early. There are a lot of teams out there that know they can take us out if they play their best and we don’t. UNC is playing as good as anyone now, and if Zion comes back and at anywhere near his best, it will be TAPS.

  2. Your right Mike I agree that the tar heels are playing best ball in the country. I just hope the cats gets back to playing like they did back in the 10 game winning streak or I’m like you this postseason could be short live.

  3. Not sold on Duke as a TEAM at all…if UNcheats gets a fair shake with the refs,
    and mixes in a little zone, they can win. If Zion is allowed to play FOOTBALL, then the first thing “hog jaw” Roy needs to do is call a time out, instruct one of his players to knock the crap out of Zion on a drive, start a confrontation at the get go, and put the FOCUS on how the refs are going to call the game. Is it going to be “ticky tac touch fouls”, or is it going to be”Football,” with grabbing, no charges called, and going over the back with impunity? Coach Roy just needs to remind the viewers at his half time interview, that he regrets any physical display and that all he wants is consistency from the refs. In other words, put the spot light on the refs. Coach K’s team doesn’t have any size inside and his lack of a bench dictates a football game. If Duke scores a very high percentage of threes, like they did against us, they probably win, however they generally don’t. UNcheats, is a bad match up for Duke, have a deeper bench, and are superior in defense. Coach Rupp said about Pistol Pete, “we’ll give him his 50pts and beat em by 30”. I’m aware that Duke has 2 other lottery picks, but that does not make them a good team, since one jacks up 3s like Langford of IUse2be and the other takes plays off consistently when he doesn’t get touches. He’s no Herro without the ball. I expect the refs to shade this game in favor of Duke since it is a money game for ESPN/NCAA, so I ‘d like to see it made hard as hell for the refs to skew it.

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