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#13 UK Wildcats invaded #17 Auburn Tigers and the Tigers took a bite out of their SEC foe

Auburn drops UK 75-66 in a foul fest

GAME INSIGHT

Auburn hasn’t been playing well of late despite winning 3 in a row after a 2 game skid that dropped them from the land of the undefeated. They recently defeated Iowa State 80-76 before traveling to Ole Miss and pulling off a 83-82 double overtime win.

The Tigers, hosted College GameDay for the first time in program history Saturday morning. Bruce Pearl has been part of ESPN’s signature college basketball event four times while at Tennessee (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and holds a 3-1 record in those games.

Auburn is 18-2, matching the 2017-18 SEC championship team for the fourth-best 20-game start to a season. Auburn’s best starts to a season came in 1927-28, 1958-59 and 1998-99 when it began each campaign 19-1.

The Tigers appeared at No. 17 in the latest AP poll, marking the 15th consecutive poll that Auburn has been ranked. That streak is the third-longest in program history. The longest streaks are 31, held from Dec. 14, 1998 until March 13, 2000, and 23, held from Jan. 8, 2018 until Jan. 21, 2019.

The 2019-20 Tigers have a chance to be the best defensive team under Coach Pearl at Auburn. The Tigers are allowing only 68.6 points per game and have held every opponent under its scoring average this season in regulation. The previous best defensive team under Pearl on The Plains was the 2018-19 team that allowed 68.8 points per game.

BRUCE PEARL History:
• 7 National Coach of the Year Awards, 2006 Basketball Times, CBSsportsline, Sporting News National Coach of the Year

  • 2006 & 2008 AP SEC Coach of the Year, 2008 SEC Co-Coach of the Year
  • 2008 Rupp Cup Co-winner
  • Has advanced to postseason play in 20 of 24 years as a head coach
  • Set single-season wins records at four different schools (29 at Southern Indiana in 1995; 26 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2005; 31 at Tennessee in2008; 30 at Auburn in 2019)
  • Pearl has achieved a top-5 national ranking at Southern Indiana, Tennessee and Auburn. He has been in the top five in 10 seasons (1994-2001 at Southern Indiana, 2007-08 at Tennessee, 2019-20 at Auburn)
  • Bruce Pearl’s teams have led their conference in scoring 17 of the 24 years that he has been a head coach. His squads were the SEC’s scoring champion in four of his six seasons at Tennessee, averaging 77.4 ppg while allowing 70.5 ppg

The UK Wildcats came in to this contest winners of 4 in a row and 8 of 9 with their only blemish a disappointing showing at South Carolina.

Big-Game Cal, Cats

John Calipari’s teams aren’t just good against the best teams in the country, they’re great. Not only does Kentucky own a 62-32 record (.660) vs. Associated Press Top 25 teams under John Calipari, UK is 7-4 when both teams are ranked in the AP top five.

All-time, Calipari is 13-8 when both teams are ranked in the AP top five. When both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25, Calipari’s all-time record is 85-55, including a 54-28 mark at Kentucky. When both are ranked in the top 10 he has a

27-19 record, including 16-12 at UK.

Kentucky has answered the bell of big-time showdowns again this season. UK is 3-1 vs. AP Top 25 teams, including 2-1 vs. top-five teams at the time.

By defeating top-ranked Michigan State to start the season, UK knocked off the No. 1 team in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Last season, Kentucky downed Tennessee on Feb. 19, 2019. With the win over MSU, the Wildcats now have nine victories over the No. 1 team in 25 tries.

Calipari improved to 6-4 vs. the No. 1 team in his career with the win vs. Michigan State, including 3-2 at Kentucky. According to ESPN, Calipari is the only coach with a winning (.600) percentage against No. 1 ranked teams with a minimum of 10 games faced against the No. 1.

GAME TIME

UK would gain the opening tip and take a quick 3-0 lead after a Tyrese Maxey 3 pointer. UK would hit their 1st 3 shots including 2 three pointers by Maxey and Quickley. UK would build a 10-5 lead before foul trouble and cold shooting would allow Auburn to build a 14-10 lead on the strength of a 9-0 at the 13:23 mark in the first half. UK had missed their last 6 shots going in to the under 12 minute timeout. UK would break the scoring drought when Tyrese Maxey hit 2 free throws making the score 14-12 at the 11:49 mark in the first half.

UK would go on their own 9-0 run to regain the lead going in to the under 8:00 minute break by the score of 19-14. Kentucky seemed to find their mark again while Auburn missed 3 shots right at the rim causing them to lose much needed momentum. Auburn fans would get their dandruff up after a couple questionable calls went against their Tigers. UK Could not capitalize and Auburn would end their drought with a layup by Doughty making the score 19-16.

Going to the under 4:00 minute timeout, UK would hang on to the slimmest of margins leading the Auburn Tigers 28-24. UK was led in scoring going in to the timeout by Quickley with 10 points. Doughty led Auburn with 16 at the timeout.

Bruce Pearl would be hit with a technical for arguing a call which UK would hit both Free throws and then two more on the foul call. Auburn would then get fouled on a 3 point shot for the second time in the game and would cut the Wildcat lead to 32-29. After a UK miss, Auburn would draw another foul and hit 1 of 2 free throws cutting UK’s lead to 32-30. After another poor trip for UK Auburn would again draw a foul and hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 32-31 UK lead. Kentucky would turn the ball over and Auburn would continue their run with a 3 point basket to take a 34-32 lead with 15 seconds to go in the half. The lead would be short lived as Tyrese Maxey calmly drained a 3 to give the Wildcats a 35-34 lead at the half.

Since the Bruce Pearl technical, the UK Wildcats have been accessed 6 straight fouls giving them 15 fouls to Auburns 11. At the foul line Auburn is 18-22 going into the under 16 minute timeout in the 2nd half. UK would be 12 -14. Things did not change much as Auburn would get an “and 1” to take a 48-44. An incredible 30 fouls had been called with 14 minutes to go in the game.

After the under 12 minute timeout, both teams traded misses with Kentucky continuing to cling to a 1 point lead 50-49. The Cats Tyrese Maxey hit 2 free throws to push the lead out to 52-49. Quickley was UK’s leading scorer 19 points while Doughty continued to pace Auburn with 17.

With 3:36 left in the game, an incredible 44 fouls have been called with Auburn having gone to the line a mind numbing 34 times. Auburn leads 62-60 at this point with 25 of their points coming from the free throw line.

The final score was not an indicator of how tight the game was obviously. Hagans, Montgomery & Richards did not play their best game and UK resembled an AAU team at time with all the one on one action. Clearly the officiating, in what appeared like an audition for America’s has no Talent, called 49 total fouls and 29 of those on UK and a combined 68 fouls shots taken with Auburn taking 44. That is right, I said 44 total foul shouts taken by one team. There was no flow to the game whatsoever, how could there be with a whistle every other trip down the court??

The Cats have looked unbeatable and they have looked like a NIT team. The sting of this game won’t last long as UK will play a very tough Mississippi St Team Tuesday that is playing very well.

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