Jan. 19, 2014
Tyrese Tanner scored 28 points in Auburn's 73-71 loss to Kentucky on Sunday (Anthony Hall photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Hounded by foul problems, Auburn's women's basketball team came charging down the stretch Sunday. But in the end, the Tigers couldn't get off the shot they needed most and No. 10 Kentucky escaped from Auburn Arena with a 73-71 victory.
For the Tigers, it was a bitter defeat.
For much of the first half, Kentucky had no answer on either end for Auburn's inside game, led by senior Peyton Davis and sophomore Tra'Cee Tanner. Tanner scored 15 points and had five rebounds, but she played just 17 minutes. Davis played 20 minutes and had nine points and seven rebounds.
Kentucky took full advantage, getting out to a 62-53 lead with 10:06 left. But Auburn fought back and had its chance to win. In the hectic final minute, Kentucky missed twice and got both rebounds. Finally, after two missed Kentucky free throws with 6.1 seconds left, Auburn had its chance.
Tyrese Tanner sprinted downcourt, saw Katie Frerking open in the corner but threw too high. Auburn players and coaches were convinced a foul should have been called, but none was called and a shot never got up.
"She got bumped," Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "Should have been called. She couldn't make the clean pass she needed to make."
But, Flournoy said, the real problem came seconds earlier.
After Auburn point guard Meagan Tucker drove to the basket to pull Auburn within 73-71 with 1:07 left, Kentucky misfired on two 3-point shots but got both rebounds. Samantha Walker missed two free throws but Auburn couldn't cash in.
"We blew it," Williams-Flournoy said. "The opportunity was there. We played hard. At times we just didn't do what we needed to do. You've got to box out and get that defensive rebound to give yourself a chance."
Tyrese Tanner almost single-handedly kept Auburn in the game. She scored 28 points, 17 in the second half, to pass Blanche Alverson to No. 18 on Auburn's all-time scoring list. She had five rebounds and assist and two blocked shots.
"She put it on her shoulders," Williams-Flournoy said. "She didn't stop when she was tired. That's tough, to play 39 minutes. We just needed one more player to help her a little bit."
Against Kentucky's man-to-man defense, the Tigers quickly took command and led 25-12 with 9:28 left.
"Their posts can't guard us," Davis said. "We did our job, but we weren't able to stay in the game because of the foul situation. Sometimes you have those games when you can't do anything with picking up a foul."
Kentucky switched to a zone and, by halftime, Auburn led just 37-36.
"It's very frustrating," Tyrese Tanner said. "We had it, and I think we relaxed toward the end of the first half. We just didn't do a good job keeping that lead. I think we did pretty well making our run. We just kept making silly turnovers and not taking care of the ball. I think that really hurt us in the long run."
Kentucky romped to a 96-53 victory over Auburn last season in Lexington.
"They did not demolish us this year," Tyrese Tanner said. "It was frustrating because this is not the Kentucky team they've had. This one is beatable."
Auburn fell to 11-7 overall and 2-3 in the SEC. All three losses have come at home to nationally ranked teams. Kentucky improved to 15-3 and 3-2.
Auburn plays at LSU on Thursday night.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: