What Was Said After Alabama Basketball Swept Kentucky, 70-59

Alabama basketball swept Kentucky for the first time since 1988-89, and improved to 9-0 in SEC play
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There was a lot to unwrap following Alabama's 70-59 victory over Kentucky at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night. 

Alabama Coach Nate Oats 

"I would like to thank the crowd. Everyone that showed up was great and we needed them late in the game, they brought the noise to help pull us through. A lot of credit goes to Kentucky. They could have folded after we jumped on them early, but they fought back and ended up taking the lead. They competed and fought hard over the course of the game, but our guys are older, veteran guys that know how to win and show that they know how to win in close games. 

"They were up two, and then we went on a 10-0 run. We almost shut them out there in the last four minutes except some free throws and a three. I thought our defense was great. We had Keon Ellis in there and I thought he gave us great minutes defensively, especially late. With the bigs that Kentucky has and without (Jordan) Bruner right now and (Alex) Reese banged up, I thought Juwan Gary was huge with his minutes. 

"For our seniors to get the first sweep of Kentucky since 1988-89 is special. I am happy for those guys. Petty had a tough game because Kentucky did a great job on our shooters. We only got 20 threes up which is not how we usually play, but we figured out a way to win with defense and rebounding. We were even on the glass with them and I will take that without the bigs we would normally have. It was a big win because we are half way through conference play at 9-0. I am really proud of our guys and the culture that they have created here and being able to win in some close games."

For more from Oats and Alabama, or check out the video of the player interviews

Kentucky coach John Calipari 

On the offensive effort tonight …
"Yeah, we passed up shots and then the toughness. We got the ball where we wanted to at times and then we didn't have the toughness to hold on to it. My guys: 'They're grabbing my arms!' Dude, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to get thrown out again? You've got to be strong with the ball. And again, look, we don't have a guy that you throw it to and he goes one-on-one and gets by everybody. We don't have that guy. So, we've got to do it different. And I keep telling them, you can't--'Well, there's only seven seconds.' I don't care. If there's two, shoot it. If not, pass it to somebody. One of those fours or fives and let them go get it. But, again, we had a two-point lead, with the ball, miss a shot, they make one, we come down, you know, don't execute. And we did stuff at the end where we had our chances and, you know, you can't. 

"You've got to really be an aggressive player and that means a tough, aggressive player. And if you're not tough, you're going to lose balls. I mean, did we turn it over three or four times down the stretch? Come on. Come on. They switched on the weakside stuff. Well, we know what you do. You screen your own man. 'Nope. I'm so out of it right now, I can't do it.' But let me say this about my team: They fought like crazy. We changed how we played them. They end up, one of those teams that scores all of those points, and, you know, they're in the 60s. Think about that. We guarded it different, we played it a little different, we still gave them a couple of 3s. But, you know, I mean, we had our chances. 

"We, again, got out-toughed. Just makes me sick. We got out-toughed. Not throughout the game. We fought like crazy. The last three minutes, dudes backed away. Playing – you ready? – not to lose vs. playing to win. Play. We're running simple stuff with, put it in guys' hands. But, look, in a sense, I'm proud of how hard they fought. This team has beaten everybody pretty good and we did our thing that we were trying to do defensively. But you can't pass up open shots and if you go 0 for 10 that's on me. That was my choice to leave you in the game. And then, if I'm you, I go back in the gym and I really put up some tough shots. I catch it in the lane, I've got to get a shot up. I can't bounce it, spin it. I can't. There's too many people in there.

On if this is who the team is offensively and how they get past that …
"Yep. Yeah. Pass the ball. We had 17 turnovers again. You know what I'm saying? You keep that to 10 or 12 and get your assists up to 15, 16, 17, 18, you win. We win this game. Same deal. Why did you make that kind of pass? Why did you go and charge on a breakout? Why'd you do that? You're trying to score instead of play. There were things that we do that, you know, or you can figure out how to win. You've got to figure out things that keep you from losing. Like a breakout charge. It's a breakaway. You don't have it, or you do. 'I don't.' So don't charge. Don't keep going. A cross-court pass that, I keep saying, make the easiest pass. He had a guy up, he had a guy at the top, he throws it cross court. He said, 'Well, the guy grabbed my arm.' I mean, it's, again, those kind of plays. And we're playing faster. I'm telling everyone in the world that, 'Shoot the ball! Shoot it.' And you still saw us pass up some shots today. Again. Then you've got to ask the question, why wouldn't you shoot that? 'Well, I missed my last two, so I didn't feel.' Then you shouldn't be in the game. Very selfish passing up open shots. Especially with our team, where we're struggling to score. 

"Now, I'm going to say to all of you watching, when we pass up a good shot, what ends up happening the next play? What happens? [Reporter: You get a bad shot then.] Or a turnover. So, why wouldn't you shoot it? 'Well, I just.' How about the shot that Jacob (Toppin) had in the first half, a two-pointer, he went in, drove it, spun and threw it. You had a 15-footer with no one on you. Why wouldn't you shoot that? That's where we've got to get through, to where guys trust themselves enough and know I'm not taking you out for missed shots. We're missing a lot of shots. No one would play. I'm taking guys out because we're passing up on open shots or you're not fighting. And again, for 37 minutes, we fought like crazy. Had the ball up two. Got the shot we wanted, missed it. Again, that's mental toughness. Mental toughness. And then all the sudden, they make a couple of tough baskets on us, we turn it over. I mean, I'm proud that they fought. I know we're getting closer. But you just want to win these games. Just like the LSU game. You want to win the games. Just like the two before those. These are wins for us. And we're letting go of the rope or not mentally tough enough to not turn it over, make the play you need to make, be able to function with the stuff swirling. 

"We're not there yet. But, you know what, I'm not stopping. We're going to try to figure out. We're a team that, we need to get to 70-75 every game. And we were on point until–what did we score the last five minutes of the game, Eric (Lindsey)? [Lindsey: Held nearly the last four minutes without a point after going up 54-52.] Yeah. I mean, come on. And again, we could ask them, you only had 52 with three minutes to go. I mean, they only had 52. So, I'm just disappointed. I thought before the game, I thought during the game, I thought we were going to win the game. Up with a timeout. All right, we're going to get the shot, we got the exact shot we wanted. Miss it. Now, all the sudden, they make and then the toughness comes into play and then we fumble two balls and they get them. Shot clock, we had an open shot, but we pass it so now we have nothing. It's just, reality of it, this team isn't giving up, they're not quitting, they're fighting, they just don't know how to finish a game mentally or physically yet. And I've just got to keep working on it."

On the SEC Tournament and whether it should be played or not …
"You guys know I love conference tournaments. That's one of my favorite times of the year. So, I will be very disappointed if we're not playing a conference tournament because I just love the conference tournament."

On if it's too early to think that the SEC tournament is the team's ticket to the NCAA Tournament …
"Yeah, it is, because we've got all kind of games left. We're going to have six or seven ranked teams. I mean, what happens to us, Terrence (Clarke) comes back and all the sudden we're a different team. My belief is let's just put ourselves in a better position. This was one of them, right here, right here. Beating LSU, winning this game. Now, all of the sudden, all right, let's go. And life changes. But we're just not ready to finish a game off. We're inexperienced, we don't have the physical toughness, the mental toughness to make shots late. My belief is that we're going to break through."

On how concerned he is that his team keeps coming close but isn't getting that positive reassurance of a win …
"They won their last game and they know we let go of a couple before that, and now they know we let go of this game. I think we've got a good group of kids. The attitudes are right. They still listen respectfully. Don't hear enough. But they're getting better at it. And, you know what, I've got to teach them how to win with three minutes to go. 'Here's exactly how you have to play.' Right now I think some of them think they know and obviously when you watch it they don't know. So, let me do my job and let me get them to finish games off. 'When there's four minutes left, let's win the last four minutes of every game. And let me show you how you do it. And let me show you when the shot clock winds down, you are not the guy going one-on-one and throwing a ball that has no chance of going in.' We've got to do something different. We don't have that guy. And so, we'll see from there."

On Alabama shooting 26 free throws in the second half …
"Must have fouled and they didn't. They must not have been fouling. I don't know, I'll watch the tape."

Senior forward Olivier Sarr

On how to stay positive after a loss …
"I think you try to keep it positive. Even though it's hard but keep it positive. Learn from the negative and move on. It's hard to say right now. Our record is hard to look at, but we've got to think next game and learn from our mistakes."

On what they can do to fix the struggles at the end of games …
"I think for us it's just staying locked in all the way. All the way through the 40 minutes. We see what we can do for a good part of the game. We did some great things defensively. We just can't break down at the end. We can't let go. We've got three more minutes to go or four or whatever it is."

On how Alabama got to the foul line so often in the second half …
"I think we got messed up sometimes on our rotation. We got beat on the dribble, man-to-man. We weren't tough enough to stay in front of the guy a lot of times at the end and that's what cost us."

On reasons to be hopeful about improving scoring …
"We saw what we did. We did a pretty good job during some possessions. We've still got to do a better job finding the open man and taking a shot when we are open, but I think for us it's playing together. We've got great weapons. We have to learn how to play better offensively by executing offensively and being patient but taking the open shot once we are open."

On Coach Calipari saying they got "out-toughed" at the end of the game …
"The result shows it, I think. They scored eight points in a row I think, something like that. We didn't. No stop. So yeah, that's pretty much it."

On what the team has to do without a "go-to guy"…
"You execute. We showed that we're a great strength, us five players on the court. Playing together, executing and sharing the ball. And that's our strength and we've got to play through that."

On postseason possibilities …
"I'm just trying to think next game."