TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama freshman Brandon Miller had 19 points and seven rebounds Saturday in front of NBA scouts and a capacity crowd at Coleman Coliseum, and the seventh-ranked Crimson Tide dominated to beat Kentucky 78-52 in a Southeastern Conference matchup.
Alabama (13-2, 3-0) posted its largest margin of victory over Kentucky in the series' 150-game history. Meanwhile, the Wildcats (10-5, 1-2) matched their lowest-scoring SEC game under John Calipari, who was hired in 2009.
"I can't say enough about our guys — how hard they played on defense, how locked in to the scouting report they were," Alabama coach Nate Oats said.
Alabama football coach Nick Saban was in attendance and saw a defensive performance that would make him proud as the Tide held Kentucky to 29% shooting. Jahvon Quinerly had one of his best games since returning from an ACL injury in November, scoring 12 points, while guard Mark Sears locked in with 13 second-half points and finished with 16 plus six rebounds, six steals and four assists.
"It's definitely one of his best defensive performances," Miller said of Sears. "I feel like he's even better than what he did tonight. And I feel like it's just up from here on out."
Miller, a 6-foot-9, 260-pounder from Antioch, Tennessee, had one of the Tide's nine steals as well as one of their six blocks.
Alabama pushed the lead as high as 31 points, and Oats liked the way his players were able to maintain their energy to the end.
"I was proud of our guys for not letting their foot off the gas," he said.
The Wildcats struggled to get into any sort of rhythm offensively. Antonio Reeves and Sahvir Wheeler accounted for 20 of Kentucky's 24 first-half points. Reeves finished the game with 20 points and Wheeler had 15.
Big man Oscar Tshiebwe finished with season lows in points (four) and rebounds (six). It was also just the third time this season he finished a game with single-digit rebounds.
"He's still player of the year, reigning player of the year — didn't play that way ... but none of us did," Calipari said. "And I didn't coach that way. We all got beat. I got beat, and our team did."
Calipari said the Wildcats have to start playing better on the road after dropping their first two away games in league play.
"We are better than we played, and I told them after that most of the time you're not as good as you think and as bad as you think," Calipari said. "Let's just hope we're not as bad as we looked today."