Rupp Arena can be a challenge for opposing teams and former Kentucky recruit John Petty found out how challenging it can be firsthand last season.
The Cats defeated Alabama 81-71 to snap its uncharacteristic four-game losing streak, but with 3:35 to play the Tide were down only two points. Kentucky would go on to outscore Alabama by eight in the final few minutes.
“I remember playing them last year at Rupp,” Petty recalled. “I remember we were in the game and then Rupp exploded and next thing you know we were out of the game. That was my first time ever playing at Rupp Arena and it was amazing.”
10 of Petty’s 11 shots in that game were from behind the arc. He hit three treys and finished with 13 points, but it was a rough game for Petty as he finished with a team high three turnovers.
Petty, who picked Alabama over Kentucky despite the Cats being the longtime leader in his recruitment, said the environment played a factor.
“What really made it amazing was when we first got (to Rupp) there really wasn’t that many people in there when we were warming up,” Petty said. “So I didn’t think anybody was going to come to the game. We went to the locker room and came back out there were no seats left. I was like ‘Wow!’.
“The game started and they started getting on runs and it got so loud you couldn’t hear anything. And it was like very impressive.”
Alabama would get another shot at the Cats later in the season during the SEC Tournament semifinals, but things actually were worse for the Tide. The Cats cruised to a 86-63 win.
Petty will get another shot at the Cats this season, but this time in Tuscaloosa. UK travels to Alabama on Jan. 5th.
“I know Kentucky is Kentucky,” Petty said. “They always have a decent season or a great season. Me and my guys are going to come out and compete the best we can even though we got a couple young guys we need to teach up and stuff.”