It was a much needed win for UK Hoops on Thursday when they took on Alabama at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky’s defense had a weak start, allowing Alabama to score eight of their first 13 points in the paint. Like the South Carolina game last week, turnovers were another big issue UK Hoops faced, with seven early turnovers by the end of the first quarter. But the Cats held on, scoring over 60% from the field in the first half, a trend that would continue throughout the game. The score by the end of the first quarter was 17-16, with Alabama holding a slight lead.
Alabama started the second quarter with a 7-2 run, but UK Hoops answered with four straight shots to cut Alabama’s lead from six to two. The Cats took a three-point lead after a 9-0 run, but a three from Alabama’s No. 23 Shaquera Wade brought the game to a tie at 27-27 late in to the second quarter. No. 24 Taylor Murray responded to this and, after scoring a team-high 12 points in the first half, hit a three at the buzzer to give UK a five-point lead. While the Cats still faced a large number of turnovers, Alabama was dealing with their own turnover issues. By halftime, UK Hoops had made 13 points off of turnovers from Alabama. The score at halftime was 34-29.
A three from No. 22 Makenzie Cann and an and-one from Murray helped to increase Kentucky’s lead. While a few turnovers from the Cats helped Alabama on a 5-0 run, UK Hoops still managed to hold the lead, with the score 54-49 at the end of the third quarter.
Memorial Coliseum was filled with deafening roars from excited Kentucky fans as UK Hoops started the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run. A second and-one from Murray and multiple threes from Cann and No. 4 Maci Morris helped secure Kentucky’s victory. Murray was the top scorer for the Cats tonight, hitting a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists. It is UK’s first point-assists double-double since February 2016. Kentucky also ended the game with a season high 64.7% from the field, which is the second best field goal percentage in school history. The final score was 79-54.
“I thought there was some real joy from the players because it’s been a tough road and there’s a tough road ahead. During the bye week, we really had to adjust our attitude and they’ve worked really hard. I’m overjoyed for them because they really worked to earn that victory,” Coach Mitchell said in the post game press conference.
Kentucky plays the University of Arkansas at the Bud Walton Arena on Jan. 29 and 7 pm. UK Hoops will be back in Memorial Coliseum to take on Auburn University on Feb. 1 at 7 pm.