Syndication: Tuscaloosa News

Any hope that Kentucky's consecutive wins over Louisville and LSU signified a positive trajectory for the Wildcats' otherwise directionless season dissipated Saturday in a cloud of Alabama fast breaks. The No. 7 Crimson Tide eviscerated the Wildcats 78-52 at Coleman Coliseum, where Oscar Tshiebwe failed to score until the 11:14 mark of the second half and Jacob Toppin made just 1 of 10 shots. With the loss, Kentucky falls to 10-5 (1-2 SEC) on the season. 

For a team that began the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25, the loss marks another concerning sign for a proud program that last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2019. While the next two months provide ample opportunity for Kentucky to turn things around, nothing about Saturday's performance inspired confidence that this version of the Wildcats will return to the heights they once enjoyed under 14th-year coach John Calipari.

Alabama finished with a 21-4 edge in fast-break points and used an 19-3 run over the end of the first half and beginning of the second to pick up the most lopsided win over Kentucky in program history. The Crimson Tide improved to 13-2 (3-0) and looked like the class of the SEC in the process. They are already one of just three SEC teams still unbeaten in league play and look like a well-oiled machine under fourth-year coach Nate Oats. 

Kentucky's peril

The Wildcats entered Saturday as a projected No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. A road loss against Alabama shouldn't hurt their résumé too much, but the manner of Kentucky's defeat raises cause for serious concern over whether this team has what it takes to reach the Big Dance.

The Wildcats shot 51.9% and committed only five turnovers in a 74-71 win over LSU on Tuesday, which followed a 60% shooting performance in an 86-63 victory against Louisville last Saturday. Against an Alabama defense that entered ranked No. 13 nationally in defensive efficiency according to, however, the Wildcats wilted.

Kentucky shot just 28.8% from the floor and totaled only seven assists as its offense ground to a halt against Alabama's length and quickness. Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year, finished just 1 of 7 from the floor. His four points were his second-lowest since joining the Wildcats last season, and his six rebounds marked the fewest he's corralled in a UK uniform.

Alabama's dominance

Freshman phenom Brandon Miller led Alabama with 19 points and 7 rebounds on 7 of 15 shooting, and he got plenty of help. Mark Sears added 16 and Jahvon Quinerly scored 12. Four more Crimson Tide players added at least six points in what amounted to a total team effort from a freshman-laden squad.

Given that Texas, UConn and Purdue each suffered losses this week while ranked ahead of Alabama, it will be interesting to see how high the Crimson Tide rise in Monday's poll. Alabama's highest ranking of the past two decades is No. 4, which came earlier this season, and the Crimson Tide may still have some work to do in order to surpass that mark.

But with a showdown at No. 13 Arkansas coming Wednesday, Alabama will have a chance to make yet another statement the next time it takes the floor. For now, three consecutive double-digit victories to begin league play suggest the Crimson Tide are the favorites to win the SEC.