Meeks leads Kentucky to win over Alabama

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, January 24, 2009

AUBURN — Jodie Meeks scored 16 of his 27 points in the second half to lead Kentucky to a 61-51 comeback victory over Alabama on Saturday.

The Wildcats (16-4, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) overcame a six-point halftime deficit and the collapse of starting guard Ramon Harris outside the locker room before the second half started.

Harris was taken to a nearby hospital. There was no immediate update on his status. He had missed five games with a back and neck injury sustained in a collision with a teammate on Dec. 3 against Lamar, but had played significant minutes in the last five games.

Meeks continued his scoring tear to help Kentucky overcome that and an off game by Patrick Patterson, remaining the league’s only team without an SEC loss. Patterson returned after a long absence due to foul trouble and quickly hit a pair of baskets to start an 8-0 run and give Kentucky a 55-47 lead with 3:36 left.

Alabama (12-7, 2-3) couldn’t come closer than six points after that and missed 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch.

Perry Stevenson scored 16 points and DeAndre Liggins had 11 for the Wildcats off the bench.

The Wildcats held Alabama (12-7, 2-3) to 29 percent shooting. JaMychal Green led the Tide with 15 points, but guards Alonzo Gee (eight points), Senario Hillman (nine) and Mikhail Torrance (zero) were a combined 6-of-30 shooting and got few open looks.

Torrance had averaged nearly 23 points over the last three games since replacing injured point guard Ronald Steele, who announced Tuesday that he was leaving the team. He missed all eight attempts.

Meeks took care of much of his team’s scoring, including 18 of Kentucky’s first 28 points.

The nation’s No. 3 scorer, he made 10-of-18 shots and had nine rebounds. The rest of his team was just 9-of-31. He also made all but one of the Wildcats’ four 3-pointers.

Patterson picked up his fourth foul with 16:24 left, but Alabama couldn’t take advantage of his time on the bench to keep the lead.

Alabama did manage to hold Kentucky to 39 percent shooting, well below its 51 percent average that ranked No. 2 nationally.

The Wildcats were down 25-19 at the half after both teams hit less than 31 percent from the floor.

Alabama scored the final five points of the half to match its biggest lead. Gee scored on a turnaround and after a Kentucky turnover, he drew a foul from Meeks with 23 seconds left.

That gave the Tide a chance for the final shot. Green passed outside to Anthony Brock on the left wing, and Brock drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer.