Jan. 19, 2013
AUBURN – Kyle Wiltjer scored 17 points for Kentucky and Nerlens Noel finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots as the Wildcats shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half to defeat Auburn 75-53 on Saturday in Auburn Arena in front of a sellout crowd.
“It is like I told our guys, I am disappointed,” Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. “We should all look ourselves in the mirror. I got outcoached. They got outplayed. We can’t let this one loss affect what we have built in conference play. We have to get back to fighting and competing no matter what takes place on offense. We did not do that tonight. We started that way, but as the drought continued, we let that our level of fight and our defense.”
With Auburn trailing by five at halftime, the Wildcats (12-5, 3-1) opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take a 37-27 with just three minutes gone. Another run by Kentucky, this one 9-2, widened the Auburn deficit to 16 points, 55-39, capped by a Noel dunk.
Kentucky shot 67 percent from the field in the second half and 55 percent overall, compared to just 35 percent shooting overall by the Tigers.
Auburn shot 0-of-15 from 3-point range and failed to convert from outside for the first time since March 1, 1997, against Ole Miss and just the third time in program history.
Both teams struggled from the field early and after the second media timeout Auburn held a 6-4 lead with the teams shooting a combined 5-of-30 (17 percent) from the floor.
After connecting on two of its first 10 field goal attempts, Kentucky responded by knocking down five of its next nine from the floor to take a 16-11 lead over the Tigers with 7:01 left in the first half.
Sullivan converted a circus shot for two with 48.6 left before halftime as the Tigers trailed 27-23. After a free throw and layup by Kentucky, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum sank two at the foul line to leave Auburn down 30-25 at the half.
The 25 points scored by the Tigers in the first half were a season low, breaking the mark of 26 scored against Murray State.
Auburn is in action next on Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. when it takes on Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN3.