— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Anthony Grant kept his halftime message simple. Settle down offensively, step it up defensively.
The Crimson Tide heeded his advice right out of the locker room. Nick Jacobs scored 14 points and hit his final six shots and streaking Alabama beat Kentucky 59-55 on Tuesday night for its fifth win in six games.
"The thing we talked about (at halftime) is just to try to settle in and understand what we needed to take away and make them work for every basket that they were going to get," Grant said. "Unfortunately, in the first half it kind of got away from us."
With that second-half effort, the Tide (12-6, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) held Kentucky (12-6, 3-2) to a season-low scoring total, 22 points below its average.
Levi Randolph and Trevor Releford each hit two free throws in the final 13 seconds to secure the win for Alabama, which had lost seven of the last eight meetings.
"They were aggressive We were tentative," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "Three offensive rebounds killed us late. It got rough in there and we didn't mix it up."
Releford had 13 points and Randolph added 11 for the Tide. Jacobs more than doubled his season average of 5.8 points a game.
Kyle Wiltjer led Kentucky — which had won four of five games — with 14 points and seven rebounds. Nerlens Noel had eight points, 13 rebounds and for the second straight game blocked seven shots.
The Wildcats shot 8 of 27 (29.6 percent) in the second half, managing just 22 points.
"We just came out of halftime too flat," Noel said. "We weren't being aggressive. That affected us. That really put us down."
Alabama and Kentucky traded timeouts after Wiltjer missed a potential tying free throw with 1:20 left and the Tide leading 51-50.