No. 10 Kentucky Rolls Past Alabama, 73-48
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Back at home, Evelyn Akhator and No. 10 Kentucky regrouped from their first loss of the season.
Akhator scored a career-high 21 points and the Wildcats beat Alabama 73-48 Thursday night.
On Sunday, the Wildcats (12-1, 1-1 SEC) lost to Auburn 66-61. They breezed past Alabama to remain undefeated at home at 9-0.
"I'm really proud of our team for bouncing back from the disappointment of Sunday," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I'm happy for them tonight. They worked hard to get this victory. We needed this victory very badly."
Mitchell said the Wildcats focused on defense and rebounding, and it showed. Kentucky outrebounded the Crimson Tide 45-30 and limited them to just 30 percent shooting (17 of 56). The Wildcats also held the Crimson Tide to just 10 points in the paint.
"We did not work a lot on our offense," Mitchell said. "You could really see what we worked on, trying to make sure Alabama didn't score in the paint. If you let them get paint points, they're very, very dangerous."
Alabama coach Kristy Curry wasn't surprised by the Wildcats' ability to recover from their first loss of the season.
"I don't think they were very happy at all," Curry said. "I think they responded with an exclamation point."
Akhator did most of her scoring in the second half with 13 points. Alexis Jennings added 12 points, and Janee Thompson, Makayla Epps and Maci Morris each finished with 10.
Morris didn't score in the first half, but connected on a pair of 3-pointers and had 10 points to fuel Kentucky's offense in the third quarter.
"That was big for us," Mitchell said. "Those were some shots that weren't falling on Sunday. Maci making those shots was really, really a big lift. It lifted everybody's spirits."
Karyla Middlebrook led Alabama (12-3, 1-1) with 12 points and Hannah Cook added 10.
The Wildcats led 29-19 at halftime despite making just seven baskets. They hit eight of their first 11 shots in the third quarter to pull away.
Mitchell said it took more time than he thought for his team to recover from the loss to Auburn and added his team regained the offensive boost it needed in the second half.
"I thought (the loss) Sunday really affected our confidence in a major way, you would even see it in practice," Mitchell said. "We were shaken by that (loss). Some shots started falling that didn't fall on Sunday. It was a great lesson for us and for me as a coach."