Game Rewind | Cats cruise to quarterfinal win – The Courier-Journal

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No. 2 seed Kentucky (23-8, 13-5) opens Southeastern Conference tournament play against No. 10 seed Alabama (18-13, 8-10) in the first game of the evening session Friday.

Follow along here (and refresh often) for updates from Bridgestone Arena and make sure you’re following Courier-Journal staffers Kyle TuckerJon HaleTim Sullivan and Matt Stone on Twitter for more updates from the game.

FINAL: Kentucky 85, Alabama 59

UK 83, Alabama 57 (2:14, 2H): This one is over. Calipari getting some reserves in now. Jamal Murray topped the 20-point plateau for the 11th consecutive game with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Alex Poythress finishes with 20 points and seven rebounds. Tyler Ulis had 17 points and five assists.

UK 76, Alabama 55 (3:52, 2H): Tyler Ulis has headed to the bench with 17 points and five assists and UK up 21. It would be a big boost for Kentucky if Calipari can leave him on the bench for the rest of the game considering the upcoming schedule. Alex Poythress is up to 20 points and seven rebounds. As a team UK is 12 for 21 (57.1 percent) from 3-point range. Alabama is 9 for 23 (39.1 percent) from 3-point range. UK has a 29-24 advantage in rebounds and 18-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

UK 74, Alabama 55 (5:05, 2H): UK has hit six of its last eight shots, capped by a Derek Willis dunk in transition to force an Alabama timeout. Jamal Murray now up to 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Tyler Ulis has 15 points and five assists.

UK 67, Alabama 52 (7:24, 2H): Alex Poythress is certainly making the most of his final postseason run so far. He’s now up to 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He’s doubled his season 3-point total in one game with four made 3-pointers tonight. Derek Willis has not played a ton tonight, but with Poythress shooting like that from deep, Kentucky’s offense has enjoyed the same benefit. Alabama has managed to keep UK from stretching its lead to more than 18 points, but one has to wonder if John Calipari will consider resting some players at some point with the possibility of three games in three days and a quick turnaround to the afternoon game tomorrow.

UK 57, Alabama 42 (11:55, 2H): Jamal Murray now up to 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He is 3 for 5 from 3-point range, and his latest bow-and-arrow celebration involved Mychal Mulder catching the fictional arrow on the bench and breaking it over his knee. Tyler Ulis has 11 points thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers. He also has four assists. Kentucky has slowed down Alabama’s Arthur Edwards, who has just three of his 17 points in the second half. Retin Obasohan now has 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting for Alabama.

UK 46, Alabama37 (15:51, 2H): Alex Poythress leads UK with 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting. He is 3 for 3 from 3-point range despite hitting just 2 of 16 3-pointers in the entire regular season. In three games against Alabama this year, Poythress has 52 points on 17-of-20 shooting. UK actually trails Alabama by one point in the second half as the Crimson Tide are 4 for 6 from the field since intermission. Alabama’s Arthur Edwards is up to 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He is 5 for 7 from 3-point range. The rest of Alabama’s team is 8 for 23 (34.8 percent) from the field. UK junior guard Dominique Hawkins is up to seven points. That’s his highest total since scoring 13 against Louisville on Dec. 26.

HALFTIME: Kentucky 37, Alabama 27

Jamal Murray and Alex Poythress leads Kentucky with eight points as a balanced scoring attack has seen the Wildcats climb to a 10-point lead at halftime. Eight of the nine players who saw the court for UK in the first half has scored. Poythress totaled eight points and five rebounds, and Murray hit 2 of 4 3-point attempts. As a team UK shot 53.8 percent (14 for 26) from the field and 60 percent (6 for 10) from 3-point range. Tyler Ulis was limited to 15 minutes before picking up two fouls and has three points and three assists. Skal Labissiere has five points and three rebounds. Alabama’s Arthur Edwards leads all scorers with 14 points, but the Crimson Tide shot just 38.5 percent (10 for 26) from the field and 41.7 percent (5 for 12) from 3-point range. UK holds a 15-14 advantage in rebounds and 10-5 advantage in bench points.

Alex Poythress has joined in the bow-and-arrow fun.

UK 27, Alabama 19 (3:57, 1H): We have our first Jamal Murray bow-and-arrow celebration of the night after his first 3-pointer. This time EJ Floreal simply removed the pretend arrow from his chest instead of going through the full resuscitation routine. Balanced scoring night for UK as seven of the eight players who have seen time tonight have scored with each of those players ranging between three and five points. Tyler Ulis has gone to the bench with two fouls, but Alabama star Retin Obasohan also has two fouls. Alabama has hit just one of its last seven shots and just two of its last nine attempts.

UK 21, Alabama 15 (8:05, 1H): An 8-0 Kentucky run has forced Avery Johnson into a timeout. Dominique Hawkins is making another of his patented postseason contributions with five early points, including a 3-pointer in the corner. Alex Poythress also has dive points to go with four rebounds. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Derek Willis and Hawkins really brought the crowd into the game, and now Bridgestone Arena could easily be confused for Rupp Arena by the noise level in favor of Kentucky. UK has hit four of its last five shots to bring its mark to 8 for 16 in the game.

Alabama 12, UK 10 (11:43, 1H): Cats sluggish early here in front of a heavily partisan crowd that has finally filled up Bridgestone Arena. UK is just 4 for 11 from the field with four turnovers. Alabama is 5 for 11 from the field and 2 for 4 from 3-point range. Alabama’s Arthur Edwards has a game-high eight points thanks in large part to two 3-pointers. UK did have some success on one possession when John Calipari called for Isaiah Briscoe to bring the ball up the court and play point guard instead of Ulis. Briscoe answered with a strong layup in traffic that turned into a three-point play. Will be interested to see if Calipari uses more of that look moving forward.

UK 7, Alabama 5 (15:55, 1H): Somewhat sloppy start to the game as Kentucky is just 3 for 8 from the field. The good news for the Wildcats is three offensive rebounds on one possession eventually led to an Alex Poythress 3-pointer. Poythress had the first two offensive boards of the sequence, and Skal Labissiere had the third. Alabama is doing an excellent job so far of shadowing Jamal Murray and making it hard for him to get open off screens. Murray is 1 for 3 from the field. Alabama is 2 for 5 as a team and 1 for 2 from 3-point range. UK has a 5-3 advantage in rebounds.

STARTING LINEUP: UK keeping its late-season starting lineup intact: Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere. UK players were just awarded their trophy for sharing the regular-season SEC title in front of a sparse crowd. Almost all the fans here are wearing blue, but the arena is at less than half capacity. Doors were not opened for the evening session until recently, so it could be a late-arriving crowd.

PREGAME: Alabama is playing to keep what is left of its NCAA tournament hopes alive, but the Crimson Tide may need to win the league’s automatic bid to secure a tournament berth even with the upset of Kentucky. The Wildcats will look to improve their own tournament stock with current bracket projections listing UK between a No. 3 and No. 5 seed. The SEC tournament also offers an important chance for Kentucky to build the momentum from its impressive final week of the regular season into postseason play.

Perhaps the biggest note of progress for Kentucky late in the season has been the sudden reemergence of freshman forward Skal Labissiere. Make sure you’ve read Kyle Tucker’s story about assistant coach Kenny Payne’s role in that development and check out his pre-quarterfinal preview.

John Calipari says team ready for SEC tourney. ‘We’re a deep team.’
Matt Stone, The C-J

Game Rewind | Cats cruise to quarterfinal win – The Courier-Journal

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