LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky needed a win in the worst way and Saturday’s 10-point home victory over a good Alabama team was quite a cure for what ailed the Wildcats.
Host Curtis Burch and beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the win and what’s next for John Calipari and Co. on the latest episode of Wildcat Country, your daily UK podcast presented by SEC Country. The rundown:
- How big were those final five minutes for the Cats? They didn’t have a turnover, swiped four steals and grabbed eight rebounds (four offense) to turn a 2-point lead into a double-digit victory. Kentucky hasn’t closed a game like that in a while.
- Jarred Vanderbilt admits he might lead the nation in missed layups, but he’s all-in on the role Calipari laid out for him: “Be Dennis Rodman.” He had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and is playing at the five some for UK now. That could be a great spot for him.
- Quade Green was terrific offensively (5 of 6 shooting, 2 of 2 from three, 12 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander swiped three steals in the span of two minutes to seal the victory. The Cats’ two point guards were poised against the Crimson Tide and Kentucky didn’t have a turnover for the final 11-plus minutes Saturday.
- Hamidou Diallo is trying. He’s also still struggling. And still starting. Calipari explained why he remains in Diallo’s corner — “what if that was your son?” — but also said he won’t sacrifice team success to stubbornly stick with him. To that end, Diallo’s minutes have dipped dramatically the last six games and he was notably not on the court in that 5-minute finishing push against Bama.
- After that victory, all the NIT and NCAA Tournament bubble talk has gone away. In fact, CBS has the Cats a No. 6 seed now in its latest projection. Kentucky could still climb (or fall) a couple of spots with remaining games at Arkansas, home against Missouri and Ole Miss and at Florida, plus the SEC Tournament (which should be a doozy this year).