TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Patrick Sparks helped earn Kentucky another Southeastern Conference title and end Alabama's undefeated home season.
Sparks made five 3-pointers and scored 20 of his season-high 26 points in the second half as the fifth-ranked Wildcats came back from a 14-point first-half deficit to defeat the Crimson Tide, 78-71.
The win gave Kentucky its 43rd Southeastern Conference crown, was its 23 straight triumph over an SEC West foe and snapped Alabama's 13-game home winning streak.
"We knew what we were playing for," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We played hard, tenacious. To come into Tuscaloosa with this crowd and win, says a lot about this team."
Overall, Sparks made a career-high 7-of-10 shots from the arc as Kentucky (22-3, 13-1 SEC East) hit 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from long range - a school record. Earlier this season, Sparks scored 18 second-half points to erase a 16-point halftime deficit in a 60-58 win at Louisville on December 18.
"You just get in that groove," Sparks said. "I was getting good screens and got good looks that got me going. ... I was just trying to give my team a lift tonight with my shooting, and I was able to knock some down tonight."
The Wildcats, who trailed, 36-29, at the half, shot 71 percent (15-of-21) after intermission and finished at 56 percent (27-of-48) for the game.
"Sparks stepped up for us big-time," Smith said. "We made some adjustments on how we were attacking their zone and their man-to-man." The Wildcats also limited the touches of Chuck Davis after intermission, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half.
"We got a body on him (in the second half)," Smith said. "If you let him dribble or catch the ball in the paint, he'll score or get a foul."
Alabama pushed its lead to 47-37 with 16 minutes to play before Ramel Bradley hit a pair of 3-pointers to help Kentucky pull within 53-50 with 10 minutes left.
"We just didn't make enough shots and they stepped up and made big play after big play," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "That's the difference in the game."
Sparks, a junior point guard, took over the game with four 3-pointers and a jumper over a five-minute span to give Kentucky a 68-62 lead with four minutes remaining. Sparks then helped seal the 23rd straight win against SEC West clubs win with three free throws in the final 35 seconds.
"I feel like that (wanting the ball) all the time, especially when I'm in a groove like that," Sparks said. "It's a really good feeling."
Kelenna Azubuike, coming off a career-high 30 points against Auburn on Wednesday, added 15 points for Kentucky, which made 8-of-10 3-pointers in the second half.
Kennedy Winston scored 21 points and Earnest Shelton added 12 for Alabama (21-6, 10-4 West), which lost for the first time in 14 contests at Coleman Coliseum this season.
After Sparks knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:40 left in the first half, the Crimson Tide scored 11 straight points - six by Davis - to forge a 33-19 advantage with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. But freshman Ravi Moss and Rajon Rondo combined for seven points as the Wildcats closed the half on a 10-3 run.