Date story published: Thursday, January 19, 1989
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- "Oh, Hell Yes" one of the signs in the Alabama student section read.
Riding a 13-0 second-half run, Alabama beat Kentucky just that emphatically here last night.
Much to the delight of a Coleman Coliseum capacity crowd of 15,043, Bama whipped UK 76-64. Intent on partying from the beginning, the crowd roared repeatedly down the stretch.
But only then was the Tide finally able to break away from a gutty Kentucky team battling at less than full strength.
LeRon Ellis got more rests than usual and appeared to need them. He shot three air balls and finished with only eight points.
Chris Mills sprained an ankle in practice earlier this week. He had seven points.
Ellis and Mills combined to make just five of 16 shots.
The loss was costly for UK. The Cats slipped back beneath .500 at 8-9 overall. UK also slipped to 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference, two games behind Tennessee. The Vols beat Florida 83-76 last night and will be host to UK on Saturday.
Alabama, which won its fourth straight home game, improved to 12-3 overall. The Tide went to 4-2 in the SEC. Wimp Sanderson became the first Alabama coach to beat Kentucky eight times. C.M. Newton and Hank Crisp beat UK seven games.
The celebration began before tip-off. The Alabama mascot wore a plaid jacket similar to those worn by Sanderson, and Sanderson, who has whipped up the students this season, was given a plaid megaphone.
Alvin Lee exploded for 11 points in the final 6:30 of the first half, shooting Alabama into a 37-32 halftime lead.
Lee, who had missed his only two shots in the first 13 minutes, began his spree with a three-pointer at the 6:30 mark. The shot from the right side extended Bama's lead to 22-18.
Lee's catapult-like shooting style quickly became familiar.
After Ellis missed a short jumper in the lane, Lee hit another three- pointer from about the same spot.
When Lee hit another long-range jumper -- this time the 6-1 senior guard was standing on the line -- UK switched defenses.
Derrick Miller, who was stationed in the zone on Lee's side, moved to the other side and Chris Mills stood in front of Lee.
But Alabama's Keith Askins hit a three-pointer on the left side over Miller. Askins' shot gave Alabama its largest lead, 32-24.
Lee's third three-pointer of the half got the lead back to eight at 35-27.
Back-to-back baskets by Sean Sutton and Richie Farmer cut the lead to 35-32. Sutton, suddenly a reckless driver to the hoop, drove to a layup to finish a nine-point half.
Farmer, only in the game for the final 2:14, hit his only shot, a three- pointer, with 48 seconds left to make it 35-32.
Typical for a half in which UK got few breaks, Alabama stole its final two points. Contested by Ellis, Lee finally missed and Mills grabbed the rebound.
Bama guard James Sanders ripped the ball from Mills and banked a short jumper at the buzzer.
Until Lee's explosion the two teams played -- to put it politely -- evenly.
In the first 10 minutes, the two teams shot a combined 10 of 30. Bama was 5-of-16. UK was 5-of-14.
Rebounding hurt Kentucky. The Cats were outrebounded 21-13.
There were 12 lead changes in the first 11 minutes.
Lee's shooting put Kentucky in a catch-up mode.
It took UK about 19 minutes to pass Alabama. Miller had the shot, a three- pointer, that put UK ahead 49-47 at the 11:28 mark.
Alabama called time six seconds later, probably to cool off the streaky Miller.
Miller hit his first three-pointer, a shot from NBA distance, with 12:55 left to bring UK within 46-45.
Bama regained the lead after the timeout. Michael Ansley, who had 19 points, tipped in Waites' wild shot on the drive.
Perhaps sensing the game getting away, UK called time when Ellis shot an air ball on the next possession. It was Ellis' third air ball of the game.
UK came out in a matching zone and confused Alabama. The shot clock was inside five seconds when Waites went up for a rushed three-pointer that went in. The shot put Alabama up 54-50.
Momentum kept on Bama's side. Miller hopped beginning a drive and was called for walking.
Bama milked the shot clock, then found Ansley inside for a short jumper that made it 56-50.
When Sutton rushed a three-pointer and Askins drilled one from the left corner, Bama led 59-50. UK called time with 7:42 left.
But the Tide wouldn't stop. Ansley stripped Mills at the foul line.
When Ansley cut in front of Hanson, stole a pass and drove to a layup, Bama's lead grew to 62-50. That shot completed Bama's 13-0 run.
UK got no closer than 10 thereafter.
Bama led by as many as 15 in the final minutes.
Askins set the first 15-point lead in spectacular fashion. After UK closed to 62-52, Askins hit a three-pointer, then took a fastbreak pass from Lee for a stuff that made it 67-52.
The party was on.