John Clay

Kentucky basketball: Dark clouds and silver linings after loss at Alabama

John Calipari: ‘We didn’t deserve to win the game’

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari speaks to the media after the Wildcats' 77-75 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The game was the SEC basketball opener for both teams.
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Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari speaks to the media after the Wildcats' 77-75 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The game was the SEC basketball opener for both teams.

Dark clouds and silver linings after Kentucky basketball stumbles in its SEC debut:

Dark cloud: Saturday’s 77-75 loss at Alabama was the first time since the 2010-11 season that UK dropped its conference opener. That year, the Cats lost 77-70 at Georgia.

Silver lining: That 2010-11 team made it to the Final Four.

Dark cloud: This is the first time since 2013-14 that Kentucky has had as many as three losses through 13 games.

Silver lining: That 2013-14 team made it to the national championship game.

Dark cloud: Dating back to last season, UK is now 3-7 in its last 10 SEC road games.

Silver lining: Saturday’s loss did not hurt the Cats much in the computer rankings. Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings place UK 12th. Jeff Sagarin’s computer formula has the Cats 14th. (The NCAA’s NET had not been updated since Friday.)

Dark cloud: Kentucky was outrebounded 24-15 in the second half on Saturday and 40-32 for the game.

Silver lining: Despite grabbing just six offensive rebounds out of 39 opportunities for the game, Kentucky is still eighth nationally in offensive rebound percentage at 38.4 percent.

Dark cloud: UK forward Reid Travis managed just two points, one rebound and turned it over three times in the second half on Saturday. Two of those turnovers were offensive fouls.

Silver lining: Travis is smart enough to adjust to the way games are called in the SEC. He’ll figure it out.

Dark cloud: Alabama’s Tevin Mark went a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range on the way to a 20-point first half.

Silver lining: Two of UK’s three losses have come against teams with a ridiculously hot shooter that day. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell threw in some miraculous threes during the Pirates’ 84-83 overtime win over the Cats in New York.

Dark cloud: With Alabama making 10 of 23 three-point shots, opponents are now shooting 38.4 percent from three-point range against UK, which puts the Cats’ three-point defense at 325th-best nationally.

Silver lining: In the three games prior to Saturday, UK’s foes had made just 19 of 61 threes for 30.6 percent.

Dark cloud: After scoring 24 points for MVP honors in the win over Louisville, freshman guard Tyler Herro was just 4-of-12 from the floor and scored 12 points against Alabama.

Silver lining: Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans continues to improve offensively. Hagans had 12 points, six assists and three steals against Alabama. After scoring 11 points against Louisville, it’s the first time this season he has scored in double figures in back-to-back games.

Dark cloud: Keldon Johnson finished with just 13 points, the freshman’s fewest since he scored 10 points against Seton Hall on Dec. 8. (Johnson did have four assists and three steals on Saturday.)

Silver lining: After scoring just two points each against North Carolina and Louisville, Immanuel Quickley scored eight points in 15 minutes on Saturday.

Dark cloud: There are still times when you think PJ Washington should be asserting himself more.

Silver lining: And yet, the sophomore forward finished with 15 points and seven rebounds at Alabama.

Dark cloud: Saturday, Kentucky trailed by 11 points with 3:12 to go.

Silver lining: Saturday, Kentucky rallied to within a point at 76-75 and had a chance to win it at the buzzer only to see Herro’s three-pointer miss.

Dark cloud: Alabama had lost to Northeastern and Georgia State.

Silver lining: Alabama now has six top 100 kenpom wins — Ball State (63), Murray State (61), Arizona (57), Liberty (66), Penn State (49) and UK (12).

Dark cloud: Kentucky had won 10 straight over Alabama before Saturday’s loss.

Silver lining: Maybe the Crimson Tide was due.

Dark cloud: If Kentucky can’t beat Alabama on the road, how will it win at Tennessee, Auburn or Mississippi State?

Silver lining: Next three games, the Cats are home against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt — each lost its SEC opener on Saturday — before traveling to Georgia, which lost by 46 at Tennessee on Saturday.

Next game

Texas A&M at No. 13 Kentucky

7 p.m. Tuesday (SEC Network)

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