Avery Johnson says UK took away Tide’s confidence

By LARRY VAUGHT

Alabama coach Avery Johnson had no problem explaining why his team was no match for host Kentucky in Tuesday’s 78-53 loss.

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

“Tonight was a tough night for us. Kentucky was on top of their game,” Johnson said. “They played well, (Tyler) Ulis and (Jamal) Murray are hard to handle and we had one guy in Retin Obasahan who did his best to be competitive against both of those guys, but it was basically two against one. Give them credit, they were the aggressor, we fouled a little bit too much – careless fouls – but overall we didn’t have the energy and confidence to be as good as we have throughout SEC play.

Calipari on Alex Poythress: “I was really proud of him.”

By LARRY VAUGHT

He only played 17 minutes, but it was an impactful 17 minutes for Kentucky.

Alex Poythress returned from a knee injury and minor surgery that kept him out of five games to score 14 points in the 78-53 win over Alabama. He only had one rebound, but that mattered little because just having him back was a plus for Kentucky.

Kentucky 78, Alabama 53: Avery Johnson convinced Tyler Ulis can be a pro

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis had another double-double against Alabama. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis had another double-double against Alabama. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Not having Derek Willis turned out not to be much of a problem for Kentucky here Tuesday night because it got an unexpected boost from Alex Poythress.

Willis twisted an ankle in Saturday’s overtime loss at Texas A&M and no timetable has been set for his return. But Poythress, who had missed five games with a knee injury, had 14 points in 17 minutes in the 78-53 win. He had 25 points in UK’s win at Alabama earlier this season.

Kentucky-Alabama postgame notes and numbers

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Alabama at No. 16/14 Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Feb. 23, 2016
Attendance: 24,262

Final Score: Kentucky 78, Alabama 53

Hall of Famer Louie Dampier did the Y at Tuesday night's game. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Hall of Famer Louie Dampier did the Y at Tuesday night’s game. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Team Records and Series Notes
• Kentucky is now 21-7 on the season. The Wildcats are 11-4 in Southeastern Conference action and retain sole possession of first place in the league race.
• Alabama is 16-11 overall, 7-8 in SEC play.
• Kentucky leads the all-time series 107-37 and has won five in a row.
• Next for the Wildcats: UK begins a two-game road swing Saturday at Vanderbilt. Game time is 4 p.m. EST, 3 p.m. CST in Nashville and will be shown nationally on CBS.

Guest post: Numbers favor Cats by 16 and UK may need to win out to win SEC

By RICHARD CHEEKS

The Cats gave the good fight against Texas A&M on Saturday, falling to the Aggies 79-77 in OT. This game featured one of the most bizarre endings ever for a UK basketball game. However, the injury that Derek Willis sustained to his ankle is probably more important for this team than the bizarre ending that turned a likely win into the eventual loss.

Most concede that Derek Willis’ insertion into the starting lineup was the trigger that started the surge back into the SEC race and into the national championship conversation. Now Derek Willis is out of action. No one in a position to know is saying whether Derek Willis will be able to return to action before the end of this season.

Galilean Christian Academy wins state again

Vaught’s note: The Galilean Home Ministries in Casey County is a special place that helps those in need of all ages and includes the Galilean Christian Academy, a private religious school. The boys basketball team recently won it second straight Kentucky Christian School Athletic Association state title. The team now needs help raising $3,000 to attend the national tourney in Tennessee in hopes of winning a second straight national title and has a gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/GCAtoNATIONALS if you would like to help. Enjoy the story.

 

By Quincy Burt
Sports Correspondent

Different Alabama will test Kentucky tonight

By LARRY VAUGHT

Isaiah Briscoe got Alabama coach Avery Johnson's attention with his play earlier this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Isaiah Briscoe got Alabama coach Avery Johnson’s attention with his play earlier this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

First-year Alabama coach Avery Johnson called Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray both “first team all-SEC caliber players” Monday when discussing his team’s game with Kentucky Tuesday night.

“Ulis, obviously, could be in the conversation for player of the year, and they’re just two tough guys to guard on the perimeter. Kentucky really leans on them for most of their point production, so we have to do a really great job defending their backcourt,” Johnson said.

Josh Allen could be key in revamped UK defense next year

By ALEX OTTE

Josh Allen (41) could be Jason Hatcher's replacement next season. (Alex Otte Photo)

Josh Allen (41) could be Jason Hatcher’s replacement next season. (Alex Otte Photo)

With the loss of Farrington Huguenin, Cory Johnson, Melvin Lewis, Josh Forrest, Khalid Henderson, Ryan Flannigan, and others to graduation, and the recently announced dismissal of Jason Hatcher due to a reported drug trafficking charge, Kentucky’s defense may be losing some of its defensive prowess in the SEC unless other players step up to fill the roles of those that came before.

Wildcats know Willis and Poythress want to play

By LARRY VAUGHT

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday afternoon that injured junior forward Derek Willis is being “real diligent” with his rehabilitation from Saturday’s ankle injury

“I know he’s going to want to get out there with his teammates tomorrow,” said Barbee.

He also said that senior forward Alex Poythress, out with a knee injury, was scheduled to “resume activities” Monday but he wasn’t sure if he would play against Alabama or not tonight.

Cats keeping positive approach with Isaac Humphries

By LARRY VAUGHT

UK players are continuing to support Isaac Humphries, seated on bench. (Vicky Graff Photo)

UK players are continuing to support Isaac Humphries, seated on bench. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Just as Kentucky coach John Calipari and players did after Saturday’s overtime loss at Texas A&M, UK assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday that everyone has stayed positive with Isaac Humphries.

The freshman got called for a technical foul for spiking the basketball with less than 10 seconds left in overtime and UK leading by a point.