Alabama coach Mark Gottfried wanted a packed house, an enthusiastic crowd and a tough opponent like Kentucky. It was the perfect environment for national TV. Gottfried saw Tuesday night as a challenge, a way to find out how his team would react following a blowout loss to Arkansas.
|Alabama's Rod Grizzard soars above Kentucky's Keith Bogans on his way to a 25-point effort.|
Gottfried got his answer as his Tide rolled down the stretch. Coleman Coliseum was rocking and rolling. The SEC is so tough because there is so much balance. There are no easy games, no cupcakes.
Speaking of cupcakes, I had heard that Alabama fans were going to bring some to the game. That would have been in honor of my naming the Tide as the team with the cupcake schedule. I'm still waiting for the cupcakes, baby! I'm hungry, man!
Alabama did a great job shooting the trifecta in the first half. I've said it many times, the 3-pointer has revolutionized the game.
Rod Grizzard was the key to the Tide win. Give Gottfried credit for putting Grizzard back in the game with four fouls at an important point as Kentucky was taking charge. At 6-foot-8, Grizzard can see over defenses. He gives Alabama great perimeter presence. When Grizzard hits the threes, he's so dangerous.
He also shows great versatility, capable of throwing super passes. While Grizzard can flat-out shoot the jumper, shot selection can be an issue for Hot Rod.
I was impressed with the performance of diaper dandy Gerald Wallace. He's a high riser whose electrifying dunks can get the crowd going. The place went wild after one dunk; they showed a replay on the scoreboard and the crowd erupted.
You could see why Wallace was a great high school player. He had to dominate with his athletic ability. Wallace is able to finish plays, though he had been struggling early in SEC play. Remember, he was averaging 18 ppg earlier this season.
Alabama used the zone to challenge Kentucky. The Wildcats could not hit enough long-range bombs to escape Tuscaloosa with a W. This was a big one for the Tide. Coming off the blowout loss to Nolan Richardson's Razorbacks, this was a game to restore confidence. Alabama shot well, defended and got the victory.