ST. LOUIS — University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said he didn’t watch Alabama’s 81-63 dismantling of Auburn on Friday.
He didn’t need to watch in order to have a feel for what the Wildcats will be facing on Saturday in the SEC Tournament semifinals.
“I didn’t watch the game, so I didn’t really see, but somebody just said (Collin Sexton) made five in a row from the three, went crazy, went off. So I imagine that he really played well. And I know how good he is.”
Alabama vs. Kentucky
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: ScottTrade Arena, St. Louis, Mo.
Records: Alabama 19-14, Kentucky 22-10
TV: ESPN, SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
Sexton has been the individual star of the tournament with 58 points. Kentucky is the perennial favorite in the event, even when it is not the top seed, and had little trouble in dispatching Georgia 62-49 in Friday’s quarterfinal game. Calipari also has seen Alabama first-hand recently; the Wildcats defeated the Crimson Tide 81-71 in Lexington three weeks ago, the start of a five-game losing streak by UA.
“They’ve got size,”Calipari said. “They’ve got scoring ability. They’ve got length. They’ve got toughness.”
Calipari, whose Wildcat team had a four-game losing streak earlier this season, dismissed Alabama’s five-game skid, focusing instead on the Crimson Tide’s two St. Louis wins.
“They went through what we went through,”Calipari said. “They lost four, five in a row. They did exactly what we went through. You don’t like going through that. But normally, if you can survive it, it makes your team better. It makes them stronger… (and) makes them appreciate winning more. It makes it so they think ‘I’m not going to be selfish so we lose. I’ll give up something so that we win.’ And that’s what happened to this team. This team became a very happy team. They went from being shell-shocked and rocked, a little fearful, to a happy, aggressive team when we started winning. Part of it, we just had to win a game.
“In Alabama’s case, they had to win, and Sexton made that runner late and wins the (Texas A&M) game, and now all of a sudden, the season changes. They’re an NCAA Tournament team. They’re that good.”
There will be a quick tour around for both teams, especially the Wildcats, who played in the later game.
“Well, what I’ll do is I’ll go back and watch our game tape first,”Calipari said. “Then I’ll watch our game tape with Alabama. Then I’ll watch the two games they played here. Then, to build my confidence, I have to go watch a game that they got beat. I can’t watch them winning every game. So I’ll have to go watch one where they lost, where I’ll say ‘OK, we’ve got a chance.’”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.