LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Auburn held No. 9 Kentucky to its lowest scoring output of the season, but the Tigers could not overcome a turnover-plagued game in a 54-47 loss to the Wildcats Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers (12-6, 2-3 SEC) were able to cut a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to as few as two with just under two minutes to play, but the Wildcats (14-2, 3-2) hit a huge 3-pointer and knocked down their free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.
"I think that third quarter really killed us," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "We didn't score enough altogether, 47 points just isn't enough. And you've only got one of your big three scoring for us. And then too many turnovers. We still forced them into 19 turnovers, but I don't think we scored enough off them.
"This is probably the best we've played (in Lexington) since I've been here. We were up at halftime. But they played really hard and they continue to fight. It was just those turnovers at bad times that killed us."
With Kentucky leading 47-37 at the under-5 media timeout, the Tigers went on an 8-0 run with jumpers and layups from Brandy Montgomery, Janiah McKay and Erica Sanders, and a pair of Tra'Cee Tanner free throws to make it 47-45 with 1:54 left. But a big 3-pointer from Kentucky's Taylor Murray pushed the deficit to five, and Auburn was unable to get any closer.
Montgomery led Auburn with a game-high 15 points but struggled to find open shots as she was 6-of-14 from the field. Katie Frerking had eight points and a team-best five rebounds, and Tra'Cee Tanner finished with six points.
Both teams struggled from the field with Auburn hitting 19-of-54 attempts (35.2%) and Kentucky shooting 17-of-47 (36.2%), but the different for the Wildcats came at the free-throw line. UK knocked down 17-of-25 attempts while Auburn was able to get to the line just four times in the game. The Tigers pulled down one more rebound than UK (33-32).
Kentucky was able to turn 21 Auburn turnovers into 16 points while the Tigers forced the Wildcats into 19 turnovers, which turned into 11 points.
The lead changed hands several times early in the third quarter before a 5-0 Kentucky run out of the under-5 media timeout gave the Wildcats their largest lead to that point at 34-28. The margin would remain at six points after three quarter with Kentucky leading 38-32.
Auburn took a 22-21 halftime lead after a sloppy first half that featured a combined 26 turnovers (13 each). Frerking had eight points in the opening 20 minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers. She ended an eight-minute Auburn scorign drought with a layup midway through the second quarter, then her second 3-pointer at the 4:45 mark of the second quarter gave Auburn the lead at 18-17 after UK had led since the final minute of the first quarter.
Auburn returns home for its next two contests, starting with a Thursday night tilt against No. 2 South Carolina. Tip is set for 6 p.m. at Auburn Arena with the broadcast on SEC Network +.