NASHVILLE — Kentucky began its SEC tournament title defense Friday night against Alabama at Bridgestone Arena.
The No. 2-seeded Wildcats beat the No. 10-seeded Crimson Tide twice during the regular season, and made it a clean three-game sweep to open tournament play. Kentucky still has not lost to Alabama in the conference tournament since 1983.
Live updates (second half)
Kentucky 85, Alabama 59 (FINAL): Read our game recap here
Kentucky 83, Alabama 57 (2:14 remaining): Jamal Murray follows up a 3-pointer with a breakaway dunk. Consider this one over. Kentucky will advance to play either Georgia or South Carolina in Saturday’s semifinals (3:30-4 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Kentucky 79, Alabama 56 (3:03 remaining): The crowd gives a louder ovation to Alex Poythress, who checks out with 20 points (7-for-8 shooting) and eight rebounds.
Kentucky 76, Alabama 55 (4:29 left): Tyler Ulis hits two free throws, then checks out of the game to a small ovation from the Kentucky crowd. He has 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting, one rebound and five assists.
Kentucky 74, Alabama 55 (5:05 left): A breakaway dunk by Derek Willis is the sixth made field goal in Kentucky’s past eight attempts, and the Wildcats are running away with a quarterfinal victory at Bridgestone Arena. Just before Willis’ dunk, Jamal Murray added another 3-pointer to Kentucky’s long-distance count; the ‘Cats are currently shooting 12-for-19 from deep.
Kentucky 67, Alabama 52 (7:24 left): Alex Poythress drains his fourth 3-pointer of the night to get the arena on its feet, and Jamal Murray nearly brings the house down with an ambitious dunk attempt that gets blocked at the rim. Alabama is running out of time to climb back into the contest.
Kentucky 60, Alabama 49 (10:00 left): Retin Obasohan hits a 3-pointer for Alabama and Isaiah Briscoe responds by going to the line for the second straight Kentucky possession. The guard hits just one of his four free throws.
Kentucky 57, Alabama 42 (12:09 left): Shannon Hale halts a 13-2 Kentucky run with a 3-pointer, but Alabama can’t piece together two good offensive possessions. Murray goes to the line and hits a pair of free throws to keep momentum away from the Tide.
Kentucky 52, Alabama 37 (14:22 left): After getting his shot rejected in the lane, Tyler Ulis responds with two straight 3-pointers to put Kentucky up 15. The point guard now has 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting to go with three assists.
Kentucky 46, Alabama 37 (15:51 left): Alex Poythress hits a pair of free throws and Retin Obasohan responds with a driving layup. Poythress leads Kentucky with 13 points on the night.
Kentucky 44, Alabama 35 (16:52 left): Both teams revert back to their starting lineups and trade several baskets to open the period. Alex Poythress drains his third 3-pointer of the night, and is now 4-for-4 from the field.
Kentucky’s halftime leaders: Jamal Murray/Alex Poythress (8 points), Poythress (5 rebounds), Tyler Ulis (3 assists)
Alabama’s halftime leaders: Arthur Edwards (14 points), Riley Norris (4 rebounds), Norris/Retin Obasohan (1 assist)
Live updates (first half)
Kentucky 37, Alabama 27 (HALFTIME): Alex Poythress drains a last-minute 3-pointer — and does Jamal Murray’s “bow and arrow” celebration — but the Crimson Tide tip in a shot at the buzzer to make the halftime deficit 10 points.
Kentucky 34, Alabama 25 (47.5 seconds left): A furious John Calipari calls timeout after Alabama goes on a 4-0 run.
Kentucky 34, Alabama 21 (1:33 left): Jamal Murray hits another 3-pointer and caps it with his “bow and arrow” celebration. This particular arrow hits reserve player Jonny David in the heart. He slumps backward into his seat as teammate EJ Floreal gently pushes David’s eyelids closed.
Kentucky 27, Alabama 19 (3:54 left): Retin Obasohan ends Alabama’s scoreless drought at 5:36 with a free throw, and Arthur Edwards follows with a 3-pointer before Jamal Murray stems the mini-run with a 3-pointer of his own.
Kentucky 24, Alabama 15 (5:39 left): Tyler Ulis completes a three-point play as Kentucky begins to take command. Alabama’s scoreless drought is now at 5:15.
Kentucky 21, Alabama 15 (6:43 left): Alabama’s scoreless drought reaches 4:09 as Alex Poythress swats a layup attempt into the stands.
Kentucky 21, Alabama 15 (8:06 left): A free throw from Skal Labissiere and a jumper from Alex Poythress extend the Wildcats lead to six. Alabama star Retin Obasohan (0-for-3 shooting, two offensive fouls) is off to a slow start for the second night in a row. Coach Avery Johnson might need to take him “to the streets” at halftime again.
Kentucky 18, Alabama 15 (9:18 left): Derek Willis, Shannon Hale and Dominique Wilkins (Kentucky’s third player off bench) trade 3-pointers on back-to-back-to-back possessions, with the Wildcats faithful reaching a fever pitch on the latter. Wilkins follows with a floater to give Kentucky a three-point edge.
Alabama 12, Kentucky 10 (11:42 left): Following a three-point play by Isaiah Briscoe, Alabama is on a 7-0 run. Jamal Murray appeared to injure his left ankle on one turnover, and continues to fidget with his left shoe. The Wildcats look out of sorts in the early going.
Kentucky 7, Alabama 5 (14:17 left): Derek Willis is Kentucky’s second player off the bench. He fills in for Alex Poythress.
Kentucky 7, Alabama 5 (14:49 left): Marcus Lee — Kentucky’s first substitution — checks in for Skal Labissiere.
Kentucky 7, Alabama 5 (15:18 left): Alex Poythress and Arthur Edwards traded 3-pointers before Skal Labissiere took and made his first shot of the night, a one-handed turnaround from the free-throw line. Kentucky has already collected four offensive rebounds, which have fired up the blue-clad crowd.
Kentucky 2, Alabama 2 (17:41 left): Jamal Murray drains the first made basket of the night, following a miss from 3-point land with a floater. Jimmie Taylor responded with a dunk on the other end.
Tipoff: Kentucky’s starting lineup consists of Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere. Alabama’s starting lineup consists of Arthur Edwards, Riley Norris, Retin Obasohan, Jimmie Taylor and Michael Kessens.
29 minutes before tipoff: Kentucky is listed as a 12.5-point favorite over Alabama by VegasInsider.com.