Women’s basketball opens SEC Tournament with Kentucky rematch

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The Alabama women’s basketball team was always going to have a rematch in its first game at the SEC Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, on Thursday, and now it’s official. That opponent is the Kentucky Wildcats.  

The Crimson Tide (20-9, 9-7 SEC) earned the 6-seed in the bracket, granting the team a first-round bye. While Alabama was in the hunt for a coveted double bye, losses in the last three games of the regular season derailed these hopes. The first meeting between these two teams on Feb. 9 was the last time the Crimson Tide won away from home. 

The Wildcats are the 14-seed in the tournament but toppled the Florida Gators in opening round play to move on and face Alabama again. Kentucky is the defending SEC Tournament champion, having parlayed a Feb. 2022 comeback win in Coleman Coliseum into a 10-game winning streak in which the final act was a title-winning upset over South Carolina. 

“It’s a brand-new season,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “We like where we’re at. … Excited for the opportunity to play a really good Kentucky team. It was a hard-fought game in Lexington. We were fortunate to come out on a positive note.” 

That game featured a 72-65 Alabama win with 13 Crimson Tide three-pointers and four players in double figures. It was the fifth and final win in a conference road win streak that was the longest in program history. Kentucky did not make it easy, fighting all the way through at home even when facing a double-digit deficit. 

“You just don’t have a lot of margin for error [in SEC play]” Curry said. “[We have to] go back to being what ’Bama needs to be and understand that we’ve got to minimize some errors.” 

Alabama is less than a month removed from facing the Wildcats, and that is a potential positive because some aspects of the first game might be fresh on players’ minds. It has been a rough patch for Kentucky. Prior to the Florida win, the Wildcats were mired in a seven-game losing skid.  

However, Kentucky has won five consecutive conference tournament games dating back to last season. The Crimson Tide would do well to maintain its scoring and versatility from the first meeting. A team’s chances of winning increase substantially when it hits 13 threes, and while that will not happen every game, it’s important to have games like those in tournament season. 

Alabama has placed an emphasis on rebounding the basketball throughout the season, and this is an area that will need to improve in tournament play. The Crimson Tide lost the offensive rebounds battle by 10 in its penultimate regular season showing. Alabama needs to create second chances for itself and minimize them for the Wildcats. Minimizing turnovers can go a long way in achieving this. 

Tipoff for the rematch between the Crimson Tide and the Wildcats will be on Thursday night, 25 minutes after the conclusion of the 5 p.m. CT game between Georgia and Auburn. The contest will be available to watch on the SEC Network. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]