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Alabama loses Nick King, Brandon Austin to transfer

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Alabama is losing a pair to transfer as junior Nick King and sophomore Brandon Austin are planning to transfer, according to a release.

The 6-foot-7 King is expected to graduate and be eligible to play anywhere right away as a graduate transfer while the 6-foot-5 Austin will likely have to sit out a season before playing.

King started his career at Memphis but transferred to Alabama. A former starter at small forward, King played the first seven games of the season until a lung infection shut down his season. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before shutting it down.

A former top-50 recruit from the Class of 2013, King will look to jumpstart his career elsewhere during his final season of college basketball.

Austin only appeared in six games and played a total of 44 minutes this season as he also dealt with injuries like an early bone bruise.

The Crimson Tide are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country next season as their freshmen could see a lot of playing time. So it comes as no surprise that players like King and Austin would transfer to assure more playing time.

No. 15 Kentucky takes down Alabama

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Kentucky survived foul trouble and a late Alabama rally as the No. 15 Wildcats held on for a 67-58 SEC road win on Saturday afternoon.

Coming off of a recent sluggish stretch that included a blowout loss at Florida and a poor defensive effort in a home win over LSU, the Wildcats (20-5, 10-2) had an impressive early surge to build a lead as big as 18 as they led by double-digits for much of the game.

Things started to turn when Kentucky freshman big man Bam Adebayo (14 points, seven rebounds) fouled out with a little over six minutes left, giving the Crimson Tide a sliver of hope. Alabama cut it to within six with under two minutes left but sophomore Isaiah Briscoe (11 points, 11 rebounds) made a lot of key buckets down the stretch to keep the Crimson Tide down.

Freshman Malik Monk (17 points) had a so-so shooting game but ended up with 14 points while senior Derek Willis had a key three-pointer out of a timeout with just over a minute left to effectively seal the game.

Kentucky only shot 21 percent from three-point range but their defense looked way better than recent performances as they closed out harder on shooters and helped force 16 Alabama turnovers.

Alabama (14-9, 7-4) shot themselves in the foot with a lot of missed free throws and turnovers as they did everything they could to dig out of the early hole. The slower tempo certainly helped the Crimson Tide but shooting 9-for-26 from the free-throw line is going to kill you.

Braxton Key led the Crimson Tide with 21 points while Dazon Ingram added 12 points. Alabama lost this hard-fought battle to Kentucky, but they played hard in front of a sold-out crowd that got to see some of this team’s young talent.

Alabama keeps recruiting momentum going in Class of 2017 with another commitment

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Alabama kept its recruiting momentum going late this week by landing its third commitment in two days on Friday afternoon.

After receiving pledges from Class of 2017 four-stars Alex Reese and Herb Jones on Thursday, three-star center Galin Smith joined the Crimson Tide with his commitment.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Smith hails from Clinton, Mississippi and gives the Alabama Class of 2017 an imposing three frontcourt players. All three commitments are 6-foot-7 and taller and the trio gives head coach Avery Johnson a lot of incoming size and talent in the class.

No. 16 Kentucky rolls Alabama 85-59 in SEC Tournament

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Despite statistical proof that playing Alabama brought out his best this season, Kentucky forward Alex Poythress summed up his outstanding play against the Crimson Tide as pure coincidence.

Wherever his motivation came from, the No. 16 Wildcats benefited.

Jamal Murray scored 23 points, Poythress made a career-best four 3-pointers and Kentucky had an easy time in an 85-59 rout of Alabama on Friday night in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Playing about 50 miles southeast of his Clarksville, Tennessee, home, Poythress put on an offensive show in his final SEC tournament with 7-of-8 shooting including 4 of 5 from long range for 20 points. It was his third 20-point game this season and first since posting a career-best 25 at Alabama on Jan. 9.

Not that that meant anything.

“Sometimes it happens, sometimes it don’t, you know,” said Poythress, who averaged 19.6 points in three games against Alabama this season. “Everybody was just great offensively. We played a complete game today.”

Murray added perimeter shots as second-seeded Kentucky finished 13 of 22 from behind the arc to beat the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide (18-14) for the third time this season. The Wildcats advanced to Saturday’s semifinal against the Georgia-South Carolina winner.

Tyler Ulis added 17 points for the Wildcats, who beat the Crimson Tide by an average margin of 22 points this season.

Arthur Edwards had 20 points and Retin Obasohan 18, but Alabama couldn’t keep pace with the hot-shooting Wildcats.

The Crimson Tide certainly had no answer for Poythress, especially when he stepped out behind the arc.

“We came into the game trying to minimize his success in the paint and wanted to contest him at three,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said, “but we didn’t expect him to shoot the ball like Jamal Murray. He made some shots. He had it going.”

Kentucky’s postseason prospects were already set, and the aim this weekend is to earn the highest possible seeding when the field is announced on Sunday. The Wildcats took an impressive first step toward being high in the bracket with 55 percent shooting from the field.

Alabama’s postseason chances remain up in the air, but the Crimson Tide’s second game in as many nights ended with 42 percent shooting and 13 turnovers. They were also outrebounded 31-27.

Kentucky wasn’t so good at the start, making just 4 of first 11 shots and showing a little rust from having not played because of their double bye. The Wildcats regrouped to hit 10 of their final 15 first-half shots to lead 37-27 at the break and were even better from behind the arc (6 of 10), with Poythress making a couple to help them gain some distance.

The Crimson Tide meanwhile struggled more for baskets than the previous night against Mississippi, making just 10 of 26 from the field. Three-point shooting (5 of 12) provided a bright spot, and Alabama had just one fewer rebound than the Wildcats but needed big games from nearly everybody in order to pull off the upset.

Even at their best, the Tide faced an uphill battle keeping pace with Kentucky’s outside game that stayed hot in the second half. Ulis made back-to-back shots before Murray added one to build a 55-37 lead, and the Wildcats were well on their way toward a semifinal appearance.

“We shot the ball well,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

TIP-INS

Alabama: The Crimson Tide finished 9 of 25 from 3-point range.

Kentucky: Dominique Hawkins and Skal Labissiere each added seven points for the Wildcats, who also had 18 assists.

UP NEXT:

Alabama: Awaiting postseason announcement.

Kentucky: Faces Georgia-South Carolina winner in Saturday’s semifinal.

Five-star 2016 wing Terrance Ferguson decommits from Alabama

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Alabama lost a huge recruit on Tuesday when five-star Class of 2016 wing Terrance Ferguson decommitted from the Crimson Tide, NBCSports.com confirmed.

First-year head coach Avery Johnson has done an admirable job in his first season on the floor and Ferguson was the centerpiece of a solid recruiting class but now the native of Texas is opening things back up.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound Ferguson also took an official visit to Kansas during the recruiting process and it’s going to be interesting to see which other schools get involved since he’s a five-star prospect. Rivals considers Ferguson to be the No. 12 overall prospect in the loaded Class of 2016. Ferguson committed to Alabama in the fall, but never signed his Letter of Intent, so he’s free to go wherever he wants.

Without Ferguson, Alabama still has some talent coming in as they have commitments from four-star forward Braxton Key and junior college wing Ar’Mond Davis.

No. 16 Kentucky pulls away from Alabama for a 78-53 victory

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Jamal Murray scored 23 points, Tyler Ulis added 19 points and 10 assists and No. 16 Kentucky pulled away from Alabama for a 78-53 victory Tuesday night.

Senior Alex Poythress returned after a five-game absence because of a right knee injury to come off the bench and score 14 points, helping the Wildcats (21-7, 11-4 Southeastern Conference) bounce back from Saturday’s overtime loss at Texas A&M.

Poythress’ return was needed for a Kentucky squad that played without starting forward Derek Willis, who sprained his right ankle against the Aggies.

Isaiah Briscoe scored 10 points and Marcus Lee grabbed 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, who limited the Crimson Tide (16-11, 7-8) to 35 percent shooting and handed them a second straight loss. Kentucky outscored Alabama 40-22 inside, outrebounded the Crimson Tide 41-29 and made 22 of 28 free throws.

Retin Obasohan scored 29 points for the Crimson Tide.

Isaac Humphries had four points and four rebounds in his first start as Kentucky maintained its one-game conference lead and swept Alabama.

The Wildcats certainly needed a lift after the A&M loss that ended on Tyler Davis’ buzzer-beating putback – a game-winning play that followed a controversial technical foul on Humphries for spiking the ball cost them the game.

Humphries was immediately apologetic about his gaffe, but teammates and especially Wildcats fans seemed to have forgiven the 17-year-old Australian as he was introduced to loud cheers for his first career start. Grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds certainly boosted the 7-footer’s cause for this game, especially with the 6-9 Willis on the bench with a boot on his foot.

The Wildcats got another lift physically and emotionally when Poythress entered in the early minutes. He quickly contributed two baskets and two free throws to get Kentucky started toward a 15-8 lead as it benefited from the Crimson Tide’s cold shooting start.

Alabama regrouped to get within two points but the high-scoring Obasohan (15 points) was the only one hitting shots in the first half as the Crimson Tide made just 26 percent from the field and went scoreless for nearly 7 minutes. Their 33-12 halftime deficit could have been worse if Kentucky (38 percent) hadn’t also cooled off.

The Wildcats offset that by making 10 of 13 free throws and outscoring Alabama 18-8 inside.

Kentucky steadily pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 24 points with 4:46 remaining. Alabama first-year coach Avery Johnson couldn’t find much scoring help for Obasohan other than Justin Coleman, who had eight points.

TIP-INS

Alabama made just 1 of 16 shots during one first-half stretch. …. The Crimson Tide fell to 4-3 against ranked teams this season.

Kentucky: Ulis has recorded double-digit assists in four of six games.

UP NEXT

Alabama hosts Auburn on Saturday.

Kentucky visits Vanderbilt on Saturday.