LEXINGTON, Ky. – Unique Thompson led three Auburn players in double figures, but a big Kentucky run to start the fourth quarter led the Wildcats to a 65-48 win Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers (11-10, 2-7 SEC) jumped out to an early lead and briefly led again in the third quarter, but turnovers and rebounding proved to be the difference as Kentucky (12-11, 4-6) won its third straight game.
“We went out there and turned the ball over for no reason,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We knew they were going to press us, we had our press offense designed, but we’ve got to make good passes. And you’ve got to want the ball.”
Auburn had a higher shooting percentage – both teams made 20 shots, but Auburn missed one more than Kentucky – and the Tigers lost for the first time this year when shooting at least 40 percent from the field. But turnovers were a killer for the Tigers as the Wildcats scored 32 points off 25 Auburn giveaways.
Kentucky also pulled down 36 rebounds to Auburn’s 27, including 13 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.
Auburn led by as many as seven points in the second quarter, jumping out to a 20-13 lead with 5:38 to play. But Kentucky went on a 14-0 run over the next five-plus minutes to take a 27-20 lead. The Tigers would score five points in the final 20 seconds of the half – including a buzzer-beating half-court heave from McKay – to cut the UK lead to 29-25 at the break.
The Tigers would briefly retake the lead in the third quarter, but then ran into both shooting and turnover trouble as Kentucky moved back ahead for good. It was still a four-point game at the end of the third quarter with the Wildcats leading 42-38, but Kentucky opened the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run to put the game away.
Maci Morris hit five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points to lead Kentucky. Taylor Murray added 14 with 12 of those in the second half.
Auburn continues a two-game road swing Sunday at No. 14 Texas A&M. Game time is 3 p.m. CT from Reed Arena in College Station.