Alabama at Kentucky
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
When: 11 a.m.
Records: Alabama 8-6, 1-1 SEC; Kentucky 11-3, 2-0 SEC
Radio: 95.3 FM
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The 2020 University of Alabama basketball team lives or dies by the 3-point shot.
The Kentucky Wildcats could take 3-pointers or leave them. So something has to give at Rupp Arena on Saturday.
Alabama ranks 21st in the country in terms of 3-point shooting as a component of their offense. Kentucky, meanwhile, gets just 18.9 percent of their points from beyond the arc, ranking 351st out of 353 Division I teams.
Both head coaches stress that their teams have to be adaptable in the SEC matchup.
“We’ll play the way people want to play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said at his Friday press conference. “If they want to slow it down, we’ll slow it down. If they want to play fast, we’ll try to score 100. But they’re different. Even when they drive, they are driving to kick out for a three.”
Calipari continued to praise Alabama in later comments.
“You can’t look at their record,” Calipari said at his Friday press conference. “You watch them at Florida, they should never have lost that game. Penn State led them for about two minutes out of the entire game. When you look at their early losses, they hadn’t bought into this system yet. Now they have and it doesn’t matter if we are playing them at home, on the road or on I-95, it’s going to be a tough game.
“We’ll play the way people want to play. If they want to slow it down, we’ll slow it down. If they want to play fast, we’ll try to score 100. But they’re different. Even when they drive, they are driving to kick out for a three.”
Alabama coach Nate Oats agreed but said the Crimson Tide would play its own style.
“As long as they are good shots, I don’t care how many 3’s we shoot. It would be nice if they missed some 3’s but you can’t count on that. We’ve just got make some.
“They’ve got guys that can shoot. (Tyrese) Maxey is a good shooter. (Immanuel) Quickly can shoot it.”
Kentucky’s main emphasis will be slowing Alabama guards Kira Lewis and John Petty, the hottest 3-point shooter in the SEC after the opening week of play.
“Our guys are a pretty confident bunch,” Oats said. “They think they belong in that conversation with some of the best players in the country. I’m sure they’ll try to take Kira out, take JP out, but that’s part of the challenge of playing Kentucky.”
Alabama center Javian Davis did not practice Friday due to what Oats called “a minor hamstring deal” but is expected to be available for Saturday’s contest.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt