TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 15 Kentucky snapped a two-game road losing streak and maintained a share of first place in the Southeastern Conference with a 67-58 victory over Alabama on Saturday.
Kentucky improved to 20-5 overall, 10-2 in the SEC. Alabama fell to 14-10, 7-5.
"Listen, we were worried about just playing hard, showing energy, having the world look at us and say, 'These guys care. These guys can be good defensively,'" Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "But they gotta be engaged in it. It's gotta be about a defense first, and it was. And then we stunk offensively."
Said Alabama coach Avery Johnson: "I've got a lot of respect for Kentucky, but I was thinking, 'Wow, this is a great afternoon to beat them.' They haven't been clicking on all cylinders. I'm thinking if we could hold them to 65 points, we could very well win this game."
Kentucky built a 20-point lead and then held on down the stretch for the nine-point victory after Alabama got as close as six points. With 2:08 left, sophomore Isaiah Briscoe drove the lane to score and at 1:18 senior Derek Willis drilled a 3-pointer to keep Kentucky in control.
"When you're playing against an outstanding team, a team with players who will be in the NBA in a few months, you don't have much margin for error, but you don't want to beat yourself either," Johnson said. "Once we made our run, we became undisciplined."
"We're not a total grind-it-out team," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "That's what we looked at today, but I'd rather be that than a one-pass, no-pass shot team. I'd rather be what we are. We're something in the middle of what you saw today. That means we got a lot of work to do.
"But if you can't grind it out some games, you're season's gonna end earlier than you want. You gotta be able to grind, you gotta be able to execute in the halfcourt after seven, eight passes, get it to nine seconds on the clock, make a play."
Freshman forward Braxton Key topped Alabama with 21 points and freshman guard Dazon Ingram added 12.
"I thought this was gong to be a very winnable game, but we didn't have the energy," Johnson said. "We gave them too much respect, too much fear. We were on our heels the first half for some reason."
Kentucky shot 43.5 percent from the field, but only 20 percent from 3-point range on 3-of-15. Alabama shot 45.1 percent, including 57.7 percent in the second half.
However, the Crimson Tide made only 9-of-26 free throws.
Kentucky built a 29-20 lead at halftime behind eight points each from Monk and Adebayo. Senior guard Dominique Hawkins came off the bench for five points.
The Wildcats shot 41.4 percent in the first half, but only 2-of-8 from 3-point range. The Wildcats had 22 rebounds and seven assists.
Alabama got five points each from Norris and Ingram in the first half. The Tide shot only 32 percent, including 14.3 percent from 3-point range, and made only 3-of-11 free throws.
-- With its three 3-pointers, Kentucky stretched its NCAA record of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer to 1,000.
-- Kentucky coach John Calipari has 23 consecutive 20-win seasons, more than any other active coach.
-- Braxton Key leads Alabama in scoring and rebounding, one of 10 freshmen in the nation to do so for his team.