Alabama basketball ready for the big challenge of facing Kentucky
By WVUA-23 Sports Reporter Tyler White
Alabama Basketball is preparing to host the Kentucky Wildcats (10-4, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. UK is not currently ranked in the Top 25, despite opening the year No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. But don’t think that Kentucky has lost its reputation as a “Blue Blood” of college basketball.
“We’ve had big games here (and) I think this one will be as big as any this year,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said about Saturday’s game. “This is a big game against a team that was picked to compete for a national championship. This is a game at home that we have to figure out how to win and it isn’t going to be easy, they are a good team.”
Later, Oats was asked if he thinks his team has earned the reputation as the new “bad guys on the block” in the SEC. Oats says he does not think his team is there yet.
“No, it’s still Kentucky,” Oats said. “I think you’d have to do this year-after-year-after-year. Now I will say this, I think people’s memories have probably gotten a little shorter here of late. Kentucky is Kentucky – they’ve been doing it for multiple years, especially since (head coach John Calipari) took over. We won the SEC two years ago, (finished in the) middle of the pack last year (and were) middle of the pack the year before. We have to do this for multiple years in a row (then) I feel like before people are going to look at us like they look at Kentucky.”
Saturday will be Alabama guard Mark Sears’ first time facing the Wildcats as a member of the Crimson Tide. Sears transferred to Alabama in the offseason after spending his first two college seasons at Ohio University. Last season, Sears and the Bobcats played a road game at Kentucky’s home gym, Rupp Arena but this will be the first time he will face UK as a member of the home team.
“I heard their fans travel, but it will be really good, especially being a home game with our fans coming back (from winter break),” Sears said. “There will be great energy in (Coleman Coliseum) and we’re looking forward to that.”
No. 7 Alabama (12-2, 2-0 SEC) is scheduled to play Kentucky on Saturday at noon. TV coverage of the game will be on ESPN.