One day after the Crimson Tide football team earned Saban’s 7th national championship (6th at Alabama), the Alabama basketball program will play a pivotal SEC game in Lexington. Kentucky (4-6, 3-0) is surging, and the Tide (9-3, 4-0) will hope to continue their winning ways in SEC play.
The fact that the Tide and Wildcats are at the top of the standings this early in the season is a surprise since both teams struggled in nonconference play.
Alabama began the season 5-3 before conference play began. Kentucky had their worst start since the 1925-1926 season, at 1-6. Both have been unbeatable through the first few weeks of SEC competition.
Alabama stretched their overall winning streak to five games with their 94-90 win over Auburn last weekend, while the Wildcats romped to a 76-58 victory at Florida for their third consecutive win.
Joshua Primo (22 points), Jordan Bruner (20) and Herbert Jones (19) combined for 61 points to lead the Tide’s first win in the Tigers’ arena since 2015. The back-and-forth affair featured 16 lead changes and nine ties.
“I think our guys are learning how to win close games,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “It’s something we struggled with last year, and now guys are making tough plays down the stretch.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he saw the turnaround coming for his typically young Wildcats despite their early struggles.
“I could always tell, slowly but surely, we were heading in the right direction,” he said. “Especially with the new year, people make resolutions to reset their minds and regroup themselves.”
The Wildcats placed four players in double figures and nearly had six in a balanced scoring effort. Davion Mintz and Brandon Boston Jr. led with 13 points each.
Keion Brooks Jr., playing his first game after missing the first nine with a left calf injury, scored 12 after gaining medical clearance late last week. Olivier Sarr had 10 points and Devin Askew and Isaiah Jackson added nine each for the Wildcats.
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