Wildcats Use Free Throws to Hold Off Tigers

The Kentucky Wildcats took a 72-62 basketball victory over the visiting Auburn Tigers.

Lexington, Ky.--Auburn was outscored by 15 points at the free throw line on Saturday as Kentucky took a 72-62 SEC basketball victory over the visiting Auburn Tigers at Rupp Arena.

The Tigers fell to 9-14 overall and 3-7 in the SEC. The Wildcats improved to 17-6 overall and 8-2 in the league.

Both of Auburn's centers, senior Rob Chubb and junior Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, were in foul trouble from early in the game until their early exits with five fouls.

Chubb fouled out with 7:38 to play scoring seven points with just a single rebound. Dixon-Tatum scored two points and pulled in two rebounds as he fouled out with 6:44 left. Chubb played 17 minutes, Dixon-Tatum 16 minutes.

Chris Denson came off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring with 15 points. The junior guard made 7-10 of his shots and pulled in four rebounds.

Auburn's next two leading scorers also came off the bench. Noel Johnson chipped in with a dozen points while Shaquille Johnson added 10.

Rob Chubb (left) looks to defend UK's Ryan Harrow.

Auburn made 22-51 shots from the field for 41.1 percent. The Tigers were 7-13 on threes and 11-17 on free throws.

Kentucky hit 20-46 field goals for 43.5 percent and made 6-21 threes. The key statistic for the home team was 38 free throw attempts. Kentucky made 26 of those opportunities.

Kyle Wiltjer led Kentucky in scoring with 14 points while Ryan Harrow added 12 points.

"I am proud of the guys," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "They executed the game plan the coaches put in to a ‘T' so we had our chances. We missed way too many open shots. We missed way too many shots at the basket.

"We committed way too many silly fouls to put them in one-and-one situations early in both halves," added Barbee, who said the Tigers needed to do a better job rebounding to have a chance to win at Rupp Arena. UK held a 35-29 advantage on the boards.

The coach added he liked the way his team played with intensity from start to finish, even down the stretch when they were without their three tallest players and at a size disadvantage. "I am proud of the way they fought, I am proud of the way they battled," he said.

Barbee noted that the home team tried to physically intimidate the Tigers and liked that his players didn't back down to the challenge. "We didn't intentionally make this an ugly game, but we weren't going to get bullied," he said. "That is what they tried to do and that wasn't going to happen."

Kentucky held the lead most of the contest. The last time the Tigers were on top was at the 12:58 mark of the first half on a basket by Denson to make the score 14-13.

Kentucky's largest lead in the opening period was 32-24. By halftime the Tigers had trimmed the margin to six at 37-31.

Auburn narrowed the gap to 41-38 with 15:24 to play on a basket by Denson, but that was as close as the Tigers would get in the second half. The Wildcats then went on a 13-4 run. They led by as many as 16 points at 66-50, but using a small lineup the Tigers outscored the Wildcats 12-6 in the final four minutes.

Starting Lineups: Allen Payne, Rob Chubb, Josh Wallace, Frankie Sullivan and Jordon Granger started for the Tigers.

Flagrant 2: Granger was sent to the locker room late in the first half for swinging at (and missing) at Kentucky player after being pushed toward the basket by Archie Goodwin while trying to hold rebounding position. Goodwin was charged with a personal foul plus a technical foul, but was not ejected. Granger will also have to sit out Auburn's next game.

Halftime Numbers: The Tigers hit 37.9 percent from the making hitting 11-39 field goals while the Wildcats made 12-29 shots. Auburn hit 6-9 threes in the first half and Kentucky made 4-14. The Wildcats, who started shooting one-and-one free throws less than seven minutes into the contest, hit 9-14 at the foul line in the opening half while the Tigers were 3-5.

Kentucky held a 21-17 rebounding advantage at intermission and had four turnovers, one more than the visitors. Up Next: The Tigers will play at home Wednesday with an 8 p.m. start vs. Arkansas.

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