Men's Basketball
No. 22 Kentucky Wins at No. 13 Auburn on Saturday

No. 22 Kentucky Wins at No. 13 Auburn on Saturday

by Tim Letcher

Kentucky has heard it all season long. The Cats have heard how their defense and toughness are not up to the level of what is expected.

On Saturday night, UK faced a tough task. The Cats faced a red-hot Auburn team that was 13-0 at home, ranked 13th in the country and that had won 43 of its last 45 games at home.

No. 22 Kentucky (18-7, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) showed solid defensive play and toughness in a hostile environment on Saturday night, as the Cats beat Auburn 70-59. UK never trailed and held Auburn to just 30.9 percent shooting from the floor and made the most of Auburn’s 12 turnovers, converting those into 23 points.

Antonio Reeves led the Cats with 22 points and Adou Thiero added 14 points and eight rebounds. Rob Dillingham had 11 points, all in the first half, while Ugonna Onyenso had seven points and 11 rebounds

Kentucky scored first on a Justn Edwards dunk before Auburn tied the game at 2-2. The Cats would score the next nine points, including five from Dillingham, to lead 11-2.

Auburn (20-6, 9-4) would get a three from Chad Baker-Mazara to get within six, 11-5 before Reeves hit a pair of free throws to give UK a 13-5 advantage. After Auburn scored four straight, Kentucky got D.J. Wagner layup and a three from Reeves to extend the lead to 18-9 and force an Auburn timeout.

UK would extend the lead to 19-9 on an Onyenso free throw, but Auburn scored the next four points to make it 19-13. However, Kentucky responded with an 8-2 run, the last six of which came from Theiro, to lead 27-15 with 5:09 left in the half.

Auburn fought back, scoring the next five points before a Reed Sheppard bank shot gave the Cats a 29-20 lead. Auburn would get back within five, 30-25, before UK got another Reeves three and four straight points from Dillingham to extend the lead to 37-25 with 1:11 remaining in the half. UK would hold a 39-29 lead at the break.

Kentucky scored the first four points of the second half to lead 43-29. Auburn answered with a 7-2 run to get back within nine, 45-36. After a Theiro dunk, Auburn responded with an 8-2 run to make it 49-44 with 11:53 to play.

Once again, UK responded. Reeves drove to the basket for a layup and Thiero hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-44. After a K.D. Johnson basket for Auburn, Reeves made another layup, then a three to extend the lead to 58-46 with 8:38 to play. A pair of Wagner free throws made it 60-46 .

Auburn would not go away. The Tigers mounted a 10-4 run to make it 64-56 with 2:59 to play. Auburn would eventually get within seven, 66-59, but UK scored the final four points to seal the victory.

Kentucky returns to action on Wednesday, visiting Baton Rouge to face LSU. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN.

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