Auburn's Antoine Mason was hot against Kentucky
By Charles Goldberg
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The game got away from Auburn in a blink of an eye. Or how long did it take Kentucky to run off to its 110-75 win Saturday night in Rupp Arena?
Maybe when the score read 30-4. The nation's No. 1 and only unbeaten team extended the best start in the school's storied basketball history to a 27-0 record in front of 23,403 mostly adoring fans.
But something Auburn caught Kentucky coach John Calipari eye. He said he was impressed with Antoine Mason and KT Harrell.
"Those two can play with anybody in our league," Calipari said.
Mason scored a career-high 29 points, the most scored against Kentucky this season. Harrell added 17.
"When they felt they could get baskets and got into a comfort level, they made shots," Calipari said. "If you didn't guard them, they were going to make shots. I watched them against Mississippi, and they had them beat. They beat LSU. They been in every game they've played and had a chance to win every game until this one."
"We got them pretty good today. They hit us on a tough day when we were working on all cylinders," Calipari said.
Auburn scored the second-most points against Kentucky this season, and still lost by 35. Too-tall Kentucky shot 65 percent, outscored Auburn 62-24 in the paint and had a 44-22 rebounding edge.
"We didn't start the game off like we wanted to. They hit us in our mouth first," Mason said.
Auburn trailed 52-26 at the half, but scored the first six points of the second half.
"We were supposed to start off like that," Mason said. "When you get down that much, you just try to make it respectable. We talked at halftime: 'We've got to fight and compete.'"
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Mason did compete.
"Let's give Antoine Mason some credit. It was a special night for him," Pearl said. "Given is father's health, and given the fact his father is back in New York fighting for his life, to come to Rupp and put up 29, I don't care what the score was. I'm just glad your fans got a treat. He had it going a little bit. Happy for him."
Mason had been with his father, former NBA standout Anthony Mason, after his father had serious health issues following a heart attack. Through it all, he hasn't missed a game.
Calipari improved his record in Rupp Arena to 100-4.
"This is a hard place for an opponent to come here and play," he said in one of the understatements of the basketball year.
The runaway Wildcats are now 27-0 overall and 14-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn fell to 12-15 overall and 4-10 in the league. The Tigers will try to bounce back in Tuesday's 6 p.m. game against LSU in Auburn Arena.
"I didn't think we competed as well as we needed to," Pearl said. "Their centers dominated. It's nothing like anything we see all year long.
"It was the biggest team in the country against a team that is probably the smallest team in the league."
When it was over, when Kentucky had 22 more rebounds, Pearl was asked how he can counter a giant team such as the Wildcats, who goes 7-foot-0, 6-11 and 6-11 across the front line.
"Recruit bigger players," Pearl said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine