Kentucky shows offensive firepower in 22-point win over Alabama. And it wasn’t that close.

In a battle of two of college basketball’s best offenses, one team took it to another level.

No. 17-ranked Kentucky ran 13th-ranked Alabama out of Rupp Arena on Saturday, winning 117-95 after taking a 30-point lead with more than 11 minutes left to play and hitting the 100-point mark with 8:47 still on the clock.

It was an unbelievable offensive performance for the Wildcats, who made 41 of 65 shots from the field — a 63.1% clip — and 13 of 24 from 3-point range. UK came into the game with the No. 9 offense in the country, according to the KenPom efficiency ratings. Alabama was No. 1 on that list and entered as the nation’s highest-scoring team with 91.0 points per game.

On this evening, Kentucky’s offense was in another stratosphere.

Justin Edwards scored a career-high 28 points, blowing away his previous personal best of 17 in his 26th game of the season. The UK freshman added five rebounds and two steals, drawing several appreciative ovations from the Rupp Arena crowd.

Antonio Reeves scored 24 points three days after joining UK’s 1,000-point club in the team’s loss at LSU.

Zvonimir Ivisic also scored a career-best 18 points and blocked four shots in 20 minutes, which was also a personal high for the Kentucky freshman.

Rob Dillingham added 16 points, Adou Thiero had 12 points, and Reed Sheppard tallied eight points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Seven minutes into the game, Alabama led Kentucky 22-17, and the Tide were having their way with the Wildcats’ defense. At that point, Bama had scored on 10 of its first 11 possessions, averaging 2.000 points per possession during that time.

The Cats — plenty potent themselves offensively — answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Reeves and Sheppard, and UK took the lead for good shortly thereafter.

Over a stretch of fewer than six minutes later in the half, Kentucky went on a 20-2 run and led 48-31 by the end of that flurry. Alabama made one shot in nearly 8 minutes as the first half came to a close, missing seven consecutive attempts during that drought.

UK led by as many as 18 points in the first half, and Thiero’s long 2-pointer just before the buzzer gave the Wildcats a 58-42 halftime lead.

Edwards extended that lead to 60-42 with a dunk on Kentucky’s first possession of the second half. The former No. 1-ranked recruit tied his previous career high of 17 points with 17:57 still left in the game. He surpassed that total on a free throw with 16:01 left and then nailed a 3-pointer — and was fouled — with 15:15 remaining to give UK its first 20-point lead of the game.

The UK freshman was a perfect 10 of 10 from the field, and four of those shots were 3-pointers. His four-point play with 15:15 left came in the middle of what ended up being a 12-0 run for the Cats, who stretched a 68-54 lead to an 80-54 advantage and took less than two minutes to do it. After that, Bama never challenged again.

Kentucky improved to 19-8 and 9-5 in the SEC with the win. Alabama is now 19-8 and 11-3 in the league with four games to play for each team.

Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) reacts after scoring against Alabama during Saturday’s game at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) reacts after scoring against Alabama during Saturday’s game at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky’s next game

The Wildcats have another tough road trip coming up next, with a Tuesday night game at Mississippi State, which came into the weekend just one game behind UK in the SEC standings. The Bulldogs (18-8, 7-6 SEC) had a late game at LSU on Saturday night. They’re 6-1 at home in league play so far this season, with the exception being an 82-74 loss to Alabama on Jan. 13.

Mississippi State started the day at No. 35 in the KenPom ratings, and the Bulldogs rank No. 12 nationally in defensive efficiency. They were projected as a 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the most recent ESPN Bracketology update.

Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 90-77 in Rupp Arena on Jan. 17.

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