Feb. 6, 2008
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AUBURN - Trying to end a cold streak against Kentucky that goes back to the 2001 season, the Auburn men's basketball team (12-9, 2-6 SEC) took the Wildcats (11-9, 5-2 SEC) to the final buzzer but came up short as UK pulled out the 66-63 win.
Four Tigers scored in double digits in the loss, led by Quan Prowell with 20 - his third 20-point performance in the last four games. Rasheem Barrett trailed with 12 points, followed by Quantez Robertson and Frank Tolbert with 11 and 10, respectively.
Joe Crawford led Kentucky with 20, followed closely by Patrick Patterson with 19 and Perry Stevenson with 10.
Auburn returns to action Saturday, Feb. 9 in a 6 p.m. matchup against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are currently 15-7 on the season, 6-2 in the SEC, following Wednesday night's 73-66 win over Alabama.
"We made an excellent comeback at the end, but we fell a little short," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We put ourselves in a position to win but we just could not pull it through."
After Prowell hit a buzzer-beating three to close out the first half, UK came out of the locker room and steadily built a lead over the Tigers, twice extending the lead to double digits.
But, Auburn bounced back on the strength of 15 steals and 34 Wildcat turnovers in the game to earn a chance at its first win over the perennial SEC power since the 1999-2000 season.
Down by six points with less than 30 seconds left in the game, Barrett drained a three to cut the Wildcat lead in half and give the Tigers a shot at the win. Crawford received the inbounds pass for Kentucky following the Barrett trey, but DeWayne Reed was able to strip the ball away and drive in for the layup to cut the Kentucky lead to one with 23 seconds left in the game.
Hope remained for the Tigers as Ramon Harris missed the first of his two free throws on the other end, putting Auburn in control of the game.
With 14 seconds left on the clock, Reed brought the ball down the court for Auburn but could not continue his heroics from earlier as his three-point attempt was off. Patterson pulled down the rebound and hit a free throw after the ensuing foul to seal up the 66-63 win for Kentucky.
"I wish we would have played the whole game like we did in the last five minutes," said Lebo. "Our double teams bothered them and forced them to play tentatively. We were able to make them turn the ball over and we gave ourselves a chance to win, but unfortunately, things did not work out in our favor tonight."
The key to the game for the Wildcats was their hot shooting as UK shot 67 percent (26-of-39) from the field, including a 6-of-10 mark from three-point range.
Auburn was not as fortunate shooting the ball, going 20-of-49 from the field on 41 percent shooting. A team that is usually reliant on the three-point shot, Auburn also struggled to find its range on 5-of-18 shooting beyond the arc.
With the shot not falling, Auburn relied on its defense, with 24 points off turnovers, and free-throw shooting (18-of-25) to stay in the game. The Tigers drew 20 Kentucky fouls on the night with four Wildcats finishing the game with four or more fouls.
"We played pretty ugly tonight, but pulled it together, so I am happy about that," said UK head coach Billy Gillespie. "In the last five minutes we turned the ball over a lot, but were still able to pull out a win. I just hope we learn from our mistakes."
The bigger Wildcats also won the rebounding battled, earning a 27-20 advantage. Auburn did manage to pull down 11 offensive boards to score 12 second-chance points.
Auburn and Kentucky went shot-for-shot to start the first half, but it was the Wildcats taking the first significant lead of the night with a 10-3 run midway through the half for a 22-15 lead.
Auburn was able to respond and fight its way back into the game, tying the game with less than two minutes left in the half.
UK took advantage of a pair of Auburn fouls to take a three-point lead off of free throws, but it was Hargrove ending the half with an exclamation point as he drained a last-second three from the right corner to go to the locker room with the scored tied, 34-34.
Prowell led the Tigers in the first half with 12 points and four rebounds while Kentucky's Patrick Patterson led the Wildcats with 12.