Red-hot Alabama aims to stretch its winning streak to 10 games when it hosts Kentucky on Tuesday night in SEC play at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The No. 18 Crimson Tide (13-3, 8-0 SEC) equaled their longest victory streak since the 2002-03 campaign when it defeated Mississippi State 81-73 on Saturday. Theywon their previous three games by 20 or more points, including an 85-65 trouncing of Kentucky in Lexington on Jan. 12.
Now a squad that has topped 80 points in six straight games is out to complete the regular-season sweep of the struggling Wildcats (5-9, 4-3).
Kentucky coach John Calipari acknowledged his team will have its hands full after the recent setback against Alabama.
"These are the games you want to play to where you know you're not supposed to win the game," Calipari said. "Now you go and it gets you going, you play. Instead of playing not to lose, you play to win."
The Wildcats halted a three-game losing streak with an 82-69 home win over LSU on Saturday. The 82 points were a season high.
Kentucky badly needs a victory if it intends to make a charge toward securing an NCAA Tournament spot. The recent stretch in which the Wildcats lost to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia put those hopes on life support.
Calipari has been highly dejected during a season that has included a six-game skid during nonconference play. The win over LSU allowed him to burn off some of that frustration.
"We needed to win a game," Calipari said. "I mean, I'm still disgusted over the last couple. Literally disgusted. But we needed to win this."
The Crimson Tide are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They followed up their win at Kentucky with blowouts of Arkansas, 90-59, and LSU, 105-75.
Alabama made an SEC-record 23 3-pointers against LSU and connected for 14 more in the win over Mississippi State.
John Petty Jr. made four 3-pointers (for all 12 of his points) against the Bulldogs and is 21 of 36 from behind the arc over the past four games. Petty holds the school mark of 277 3-pointers. He made four against Kentucky while scoring 23 points. He leads Alabama in scoring average (14.1) and 3-pointers made (43).
"We think every shot he takes is going to go in," teammate Alex Reese told reporters after the Mississippi State game.
Herbert Jones recorded 17 points and seven assists as the Crimson Tide had five double-digit scorers against the Bulldogs. Joshua Primo was 4 of 5 from 3-point range while adding 16 points.
Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats gave mixed reviews of a victory that was just the third decided by single digits during the team's nine-game winning streak.
"I think it was good to play in a close game as well," Oats said. "We have been hitting shots at a pretty good pace and blowing teams out, so it was good to get in a late-game situation. I am a little disappointed with our performance, but I am happy we figured out a way to win."
As for Kentucky, Brandon Boston Jr. scored 18 points and Keion Brooks Jr. matched his career high of 15 points in the win over LSU. It marked the second straight game in which Boston scored 18 points.
The Wildcats committed just nine turnovers.
In the first matchup with the Crimson Tide, Kentucky committed 19 turnovers and shot just 34.4 percent from the field. It was just Alabama's second win in the past 14 meetings with the Wildcats
--Field Level Media