Jan. 11, 2012
AUBURN - No. 2 Kentucky closed the game with a 23-6 run to defeat Auburn 68-53 in sold-out Auburn Arena on Wednesday. Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb each scored 14 points to lead the Wildcats, while Rob Chubb had 14 points and eight rebounds and Chris Denson 12 points for the Tigers.
"I think we figured some things out tonight," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. "The guys fought their tails off tonight. We have to take this and expound on it and go to the next level. I found a style that I think is going to work for this team. It is very similar to last year. It is to shorten the games and grind it out. We are still working on finding those catalysts, who when it is time to make those plays in the last five minutes in the game that we make them. They have them, and they made them. We don't, and we didn't."
A back and forth game for the first 30 minutes with 12 lead changes and eight ties, Kentucky used their game-deciding run after Auburn (10-6, 0-2) had taken a 47-45 lead with 10:52 remaining in the game. The Tigers converted just two field goals in the final 10 minutes, including a stretch of five minutes without a point.
Auburn's first lead came on the back of an 11-1 run that was capped by a basket from Adrian Forbes for the 13-10 advantage with nine minutes into the game. The Tigers held the Wildcats scoreless for six minutes before Kentucky's next bucket, a trey by Lamb, tied the game at 13 with 10:41 left in the first half.
Denson's layup and free throw gave Auburn a 26-24 lead with 3:47 to go before Auburn and Kentucky (16-1, 2-0) went back and forth over the next two-plus minutes. A 5-0 run by the Wildcats in the last 48 seconds handed Kentucky a 32-28 halftime lead.
Auburn bounced back with a basket by Denson and two Chubb free throws to knot the game at 43 with 13 minutes left. Denson's fast-break layup gave Auburn a 45-43 lead with 12:18 on the clock and put the exclamation point on an 8-2 run. The lead was the Tigers' first since they held a 28-27 advantage with less than two minutes to go in the first half.
Auburn out-rebounded Kentucky 35-29 on the night, but had a 32-16 edge midway through the second half. Kentucky outscored Auburn in points off turnovers, 24-6, while the Tigers had 15 turnovers to Kentucky's eight.
"Moral victories only get you so far, but it shows the direction we need to be moving," Chubb said. "We did take a big step today forward. We showed ourselves what we could do. Hanging to two points with five minutes left with the number two team in the nation, that's saying something."
Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague both had 12 points each for the Wildcats.
The game featured Barbee squaring off against his college coach, Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
"I'm just proud of him," Calipari said of Barbee. "I hope he wins every game. He's building the building blocks of what he wants, and we have to play each other once a year. Hopefully, that's it. Again, if we had lost, I would have been ecstatic for him. He knows it."
Auburn is in action next on Saturday in Auburn Arena against Ole Miss at 12:47 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.