Daimion Collins waited his turn and stood out in Kentucky’s 66-55 win over Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
The freshman forward came off the bench and scored 10 points, his best performance since collecting eight points from the bench in a 76-64 win over Southern on Nov. 7. The fifth-seeded Wildcats weren’t surprised by Collins’ performance. , including freshman guard TyTy Washington, who led Kentucky with 15 points.
“Everyone in the program knows what Daimion can do,” Washington said. “Before this point, we knew what he could do.
He spends extra hours in the gym and whenever I go there late at night he is always there. I knew his good match was coming and he had the opportunity to play. He didn’t pout or anything and just went out there and played – that’s what he showed tonight, he showed his athleticism on both sides of the ball.
Kentucky coach John Calipari knew he could exploit the Crimson Tide defense by using Colins and his other post players with lob plays in an effort to keep Alabama off balance on the defensive side of the field. The plan worked perfectly, thanks to Collins and his vigilance around the basket.
“Damion Collins was a difference maker,” Calipari said. “I’ve watched their tape enough, they’re falling apart (on defense) so you’ve got that (lob opportunity) if you’ve got a guy to throw it at. I told him at the shoot-around that we had this lob (game) and I put you for that reason and he played really well. He played very well defensively and what I like about it, I only played him for (eight minutes). He has now forced me to figure out how to play him.
Boosted by Collins, the Wildcats (19-4, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) got 21 points off their bench and won their fourth straight line since losing an 80-71 loss to top-ranked Auburn, January 22. Overall, Kentucky has won eight of its last nine games.
Washington and Collins combined for 25 points. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kellan Grady and Keion Brooks each added 10 points.
Tshiebwe added 15 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Alabama (14-9, 4-6) swept the Wildcats last season and one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league and nation, made just 3 of 30 long-range attempts. distance while leading scorer Jaden Shackelford (17 points per game) was limited to just six points.
“When you shoot that many (three), if they go you win, if they don’t you lose, unless you keep bouncing back,” Calipari said. “That was my thing the whole game. If you kick them, they won’t have enough attack to beat you.
Calipari was pleased with his side’s ability to overcome a slow start and put together another tough encounter.
“They never lose here,” he said. “Kansas doesn’t lose at home either (at Allen Fieldhouse).
Over the past two weeks, the Wildcats have proven that winning on the road is something this team can achieve despite the challenges at the start of the year.
Game tracking: Kentucky at South Carolina, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK radio network.
Keith Taylor is a sportswriter for Kentucky Today. Reach him at [email protected] and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.