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Lexington, KY 2-9-23

The ‘Cats (10-12, 2-8 SEC) returned to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (17-6, 6-4 SEC) after having a week off in a basketball season “bye” week. The ‘Cats fell to undefeated No. 1 South Carolina in Columbia the last time they saw the hardwood by a score of 87-69. Kentucky was victorious the last time they played in Memorial Coliseum, however, winning their first conference home game of the season over the Missouri Tigers, 77-54 on January 29. The ‘Cats check in ranked No. 82 in the latest NET rankings, while the Crimson Tide checked in at No. 24. Alabama arrived in Lexington coming off a 76-69 win at Missouri last Sunday. The Crimson Tide check in ranked 5th in the SEC standings. Brittany Davis (18.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG), Megan Abrams (8.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG), Aaliyah Nye (8.0 PPG, 45% 3PT), and Hannah Barber (7.8 PPG, 2.6 APG, 48% 3PT) lead the Crimson Tide’s offensive attack on the season. Robyn Benton (17.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 SPG), Jada Walker (13.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.5 SPG) and Maddie Scherr (10.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.3 SPG) are the ‘Cats primary offensive producers in a three-guard attack. The trio averages over 6 steals per game for the ‘Cats on the season.

The ’Cats starting lineup featured Walker, Benton, Scherr, Green, and Leveretter.

Game Recap:

The first points of the game came via a driving layup by Alabama. The ‘Cats answered that basket with a step-back jumper from Green to tie the game at 2 apiece. Each team traded successful three-pointers with the ‘Cats basket coming off a Benton assist to find an open Scherr. Teams continued to trade buckets each trip down the floor with Walker and Scherr converting for the ‘Cats. Two Walker free-throws pushed the ‘Cats in front 11-10 with 6:09 to play. Each team continued their hot offensive starts (50% FG for Alabama, 56% FG for Kentucky) to the tune of a 15-13 Crimson Tide lead at the media timeout. An assertive drive by Walker tied the game at 15 all. Walker again drove in for a score, this time converting an and-one opportunity that pushed the ‘Cats in front 18-15 with 1:49 to play in the first quarter. Russell split the defense for an easy driving layup that brought the score to 20-15 ‘Cats. The ‘Cats finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run over the final 4:43-minutes of the quarter. Kentucky shot 53% in the quarter and committed just 3 turnovers. Walker led the ‘Cats offense with 9 first quarter points, while Scherr mixed in 5-points.

The second quarter scoring began with a good passing display from the ‘Cats that led to an easy score for Leveretter. Russell went coast-to-coast to find Petty for an easy lay-in and followed that up with a coast-to-coast take for a score of her own to push the ‘Cats in front by a score of 26-15 with 7:46 to play in the half. The Crimson Tide had not scored since the 5:06-minute mark in the first quarter. Alabama finally scored again at the 5:48-minute mark in the second quarter to narrow the ‘Cats lead to 26-18. Alabama followed that three up with two more consecutive threes that brought the score to 26-24 Kentucky (9-0 Alabama run in 1:10-minutes). Benton converted a Kentucky three-pointer as the shot-clock was winding down that extended the Kentucky lead to 29-24. Two more Crimson Tide threes brought Alabama within 1 by a score of 31-30 ‘Cats with 1:50 remaining in the half. A Benton jumper finished off the scoring for the half as the ‘Cats led 33-31. Alabama hit 5 of their last 6 field goals but did not make a field goal in the final 2:37-minutes of the half. The ‘Cats shot 50% from the field in the half and limited their first half turnovers to just 7. Walker led the ‘Cats in first half scoring with her 9 first quarter points. Benton and Scherr each scored 5 first half points while Russell provided a spark off the bench with 4 first half points and 3-rebounds. Kentucky legend Rhyne Howard was honored at halftime in her first return to Memorial Coliseum since last season.

The second half started slow on the offensive end for both teams, with the first points coming via two free-throws from Leveretter to push the ‘Cats lead to 35-31 with 7:50 to play in the quarter. The first field goal of the half did not come until the 6:30 mark through a Crimson Tide layup that brought the score to 35-33 Kentucky. The score at the media timeout saw Alabama take a 1-point lead at a score of 36-35 with 4:53 to play in the quarter. The ‘Cats first field goal of the quarter came with just 3-minutes left to play and ended a 9-0 Alabama run, bringing the score to 40-37 Crimson Tide. After a Petty layup, Alabama continued to stretch their lead with an and-one opportunity that brough the score to 48-39 Crimson Tide. Benton nailed a corner three for the ‘Cats to narrow the Alabama lead to 48-42 with 25-seconds left to play in the quarter. The quarter ended with a score of 49-42 Alabama. Kentucky made just 3 field goals in the quarter and scored just 9-points.

The fourth quarter scoring began with a steal and transition layup by Alabama that brought the score to 51-42 Crimson Tide. A three-pointer gave Alabama their biggest lead of the game at 12 by a score of 54-42. The ‘Cats first field goal of the final quarter came via an Adeyeye layup with 7-minutes to play in the game that narrowed the Alabama lead to 54-45. A couple more Alabama threes stretched their lead to 62-49. The score was 65-53 Alabama with 2-minutes to play. A Walker three narrowed the Crimson Tide lead to 9 at 65-56. After a defensive stop for the ‘Cats, Benton hit another three that brought the score to 65-59 Crimson Tide with 57-seconds to play. Scherr hit a corner three for Kentucky that kept the Alabama lead at 6 with a score of 68-62 with 28-seconds left in the game. After a pair of free-throws for Alabama, Benton again responded with a three for the ‘Cats, that brought the score to 70-65. Alabama hit 8 of their 11 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. The final score was 72-65 Alabama.

Alabama shot 45% from the field and 46% from 3PT, going 13-28. The ‘Cats shot 39% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc, 7-21. Both teams collected 33 rebounds. Kentucky finished the game with 17 turnovers while Alabama committed 18 in the game. Davis posted 22-points and 11-rebounds to lead all players. Walker led the ‘Cats in scoring with 15-points (5-16 FG, 1-5 3PT). Benton was close behind with 14-points (5-14 FG, 4-7 3PT). Scherr posted 11-points and 3-rebounds. Adeyeye added 9-points and led the team with 9-rebounds. Eniya Russell played very well in her limited run (16-minutes), posting 4-points, 5-rebounds, and led all ‘Cats with 4-assists. Adeyeye posted a team-high plus/minus total of +5 in 19-minutes, while Russell posted a +4 in her 16-minutes of action.

The ‘Cats (10-13, 2-9 SEC) hit the road for their next game as they head to Oxford for a matchup versus the Ole Miss Rebels (19-5, 8-3 SEC). Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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