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Archive for Sunday, January 26, 2003

Wildcats snap Crimson Tide’s home win streak - No. 8 Kentucky 63, No. 15 Alabama 46

January 26, 2003

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— With a swarming defense and a barrage of uncontested shots, eighth-ranked Kentucky showed No. 15 Alabama how a true basketball power plays.

The Crimson Tide found out they weren't quite there yet.

Gerald Fitch scored 16 points, and the Wildcats kept Alabama in a freefall, ending its school-record 28-game home winning streak with a 63-46 victory Saturday night.

"We're going to get it back," said Tide coach Mark Gott-fried, whose team has lost three straight and four of its last five. "We've got to find some answers."

The Wildcats (15-3, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) picked up their ninth consecutive win. It's Kentucky's longest winning streak since winning the final 13 games and the national title in 1998 and the first four games of the following season.

It was the lowest-scoring game for the Tide (12-5, 2-4) since they scored 45 points against Florida in the 1987-88 season. Ranked No. 1 just four weeks ago, Alabama shot 10-of-42 (23.8 percent).

"I'm sure we can play better defense, but I don't think I've seen us play better defense," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We talked about that killer instinct earlier in the year.

"We challenged them to be a better defensive team than past teams here. I can feel the guys' confidence growing as we defend and as we win games."

By the end, Kentucky was getting uncontested shots nearly every time down the court.

Marquis Estill and Keith Bogans scored 12 points apiece, with all of Bogans' points coming in the second half.

Alabama's stars, meanwhile, were nonfactors. Erwin Dudley and Kenny Walker were a combined 0-for-13 shooting. It was the first time in Dudley's four-year career he hadn't had a field goal.

Leading scorer Mo Williams was 2-for-9 for eight points and had all four of Alabama's assists.

"A lot of their offense runs through Mo Williams, so we felt if we could contain them, we'd be all right," Smith said.

The Wildcats also double- or triple-teamed Dudley and Walker every time they got the ball.

"I think they did a great job of not allowing them to get any easy looks around the basket," Gottfried said. "I thought they disrupted our guys probably more than anyone else has this year."

Emmett Thomas led Alabama with 13 points. Dudley and Walker did have success on the boards, getting 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Alabama committed 15 turnovers and forced only seven, and was saved from an even bigger losing margin only by a 22-of-30 performance at the free-throw line.

The Tide cut it to 34-29 on Antoine Pettway's layup with 16:15 left. Alabama missed its next 10 shots and managed one point in a span of 13 possessions.

The Tide's only other field goal the rest of the way was Williams' layup with 1:40 left and the game out of reach.

Alabama had a similar stretch of offensive futility in the first half. The Tide went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal, but still trailed only 26-21 at halftime.

It was Alabama's first loss at Coleman Coliseum since a 66-63 defeat to Arkansas nearly two years ago.

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