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10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET6:00 PM GMT2:00 PM 北京时间11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST, Jan 5, 2019
Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Alabama  Attendance: 12,424

Kentucky-Alabama Preview

Southeastern Conference play begins on Saturday, and of the big opening matchups will be in Tuscaloosa, where No. 13 Kentucky visits Alabama.

"Anytime you're playing on the road, the true test of a player, the true test of a team is can you go on somebody else's court and have success?" Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne told the media on Thursday. "As a player, I wanted to be the player that had better games on the road than I did at home. I hope that we teach these guys that.

"Playing at home is one thing, but if you're going to be a championship team, you've got to go into the other team's home and beat them," Payne said. "Find a way to beat them. And it doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to be a W."

Alabama (9-3) got off to a rocky start with losses to Northeastern, UCF and Georgia State to stand at 5-3 on Dec. 4. The Tide have righted the ship, however, with four straight wins heading into conference play. Included in the streak are victories over Arizona and Penn State.

Kentucky's start was perhaps more startling -- a 118-84 blowout loss to Duke in the season opener Nov. 6. The loss dropped the Wildcats (10-2) from No. 2 to No. 10 in the AP Top 25. Since a Dec. 8 triple-overtime loss to Seton Hall, however, they have won three straight -- including back-to-back wins over North Carolina (80-72) and at Louisville (71-58) to end 2018.

"We're getting better," coach John Calipari recently said. "The guys are all dialed in right now. I like where we are. More of a team, player-driven practice than a coach-driven practice. We really had to define roles a little bit better and I had to help them with that. As we did that, people rolled into those positions and started playing better."

One key battle in the game Saturday will be rebounding. Kentucky ranks No. 5 in the nation with a plus-11.8 rebounding margin. Alabama is No. 38 at plus-6.7.

"We've got two really good rebounding teams, teams that are good in transition. We have to be ready for a physical contest," Alabama coach Avery Johnson told the media. "We know what Kentucky can do, but we have improved our offensive and defensive rebounding, taking significant steps from last year. But we'll need more from our guards in this game, too, because we feel if we can rebound it will help us in transition. A game like this is about easy baskets."

Kentucky places four players in double figures scoring - freshmen guards Keldon Johnson (16.4) and Tyler Herro (13.3) and two big men, grad transfer Reid Travis (14.6) and sophomore PJ Washington (12.6). Washington is the top rebounder at 8.4.

"We're playing against an outstanding team, a team that's picked to win the SEC," Johnson said. "It's a team that knows what it's doing on both sides of the ball."

Alabama has three players in double figures - Kira Lewis at 15.0 and Donta Hall and John Petty at 11.1 each. Hall is the top rebounder at 8.2 per game.

"Big, athletic, really active around the basket," Payne said of Hall. "We have to keep him off the glass. He's a force around the basket. He's going to be a big piece of them having success, but we've got to make sure he doesn't have success."

Updated January 4, 2019

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