"We looked confused at times," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "We struggled offensively tonight and couldn't get anything in a flow. We were intimidated in the first half. We missed six lay-ups to start in and around the bucket area. You just can't do that on the road. For whatever reason, I don't know if it was intimidation or whatever it was, we weren't ready to play."
Auburn shot just 7-31 from the floor while scoring just 19 points in the first half. In the second half the Tigers shot better, but not by much as only 12-36 shots from the floor made their way through the basket.
If there was a bright spot for Lebo's squad in Rupp Arena, it was the play of freshman guard Kelvin Lewis, who had 14 points in the second half after his only first half shot went long off the top of the square on the backboard on a three-point attempt. He shot 4-7 from long range for the game.
"We've been waiting for that," Lebo said of Lewis. "We've seen that in practice and we haven't seen that in games yet. Against the zone he can get it off and put it in the bucket. He had three quick threes and we came back.
"We had a spot where we could cut it to 10 and Quantez (Robertson) took an awful one. I thought Kelvin did some good things and he was the leading scorer off the bench. In the first half he was not very good and finally got one to go."
Lewis had three consecutive three-pointers to spark a 12-4 run during a two-minute stretch in the second half and he hit another two minutes later, but the Tigers couldn't get consistency from anybody else all night.
"I really thought Josh Dollard was horrendous in this game," Lebo noted. "He really struggled in this game and I really couldn't afford to have him out there in the second half."
With Dollard playing just 18 minutes, Randolph Morris had 12 points on 5-6 shooting for Kentucky. The Cats outscored Auburn 36-20 in the paint.
Rasheem Barrett didn't play well for the Tigers either. He was 0-7 from the floor in the first half, mostly on wide-open looks, and he finished the game 2-12 from the floor, 0-5 on threes and had five points and three rebounds in 27 minutes.
Auburn players not named Kelvin Lewis were 5-25 from long range. "We shot 28 percent and Rasheem really struggled again from the three," said Lebo. "Quantez was 0-4 so your starting lineup didn't score a lot from three at all."
Korvotney Barber, who had as many fouls, four, as points and rebounds, catches a pass on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.
The Tigers got off to a rough start in the contest. With the game tied at 2-2, the Wildcats scored 10 straight points as Frank Tolbert had a turnover on three consecutive possessions. Despite bad shooting and sloppy ball handling, Auburn closed the gap to six at 23-17 on a put-back by Dollard. However, after several missed open shots by Barrett the Wildcats used a pair of threes from Crawford to end the first half on a 13-2 run.
"I thought Crawford really played well," Lebo said. "He's playing better. They've been waiting for him to come out here for two years and he really did some good things tonight and made some key shots.
"Ramel Bradley and Crawford are two very good players," he added. "Bradley had an all-around floor game. He's a really smart player and he knows how to play."
Over the first six minutes of the second half Crawford played Auburn even by himself with nine points apiece for him and Auburn. UK opened up a 21-point lead on a bucket from Perry Stevenson with nine minutes to play, but Lewis' threes and another by Tolbert cut it to 57-44. However, the Tigers couldn't make it less than a 13-point game. With the game out of reach down the stretch the Wildcats kept shooing away and scored 15 of the games' final 18 points.
Auburn was 19-67 from the floor, 9-32 on threes and 10-17 from the free thrown line while Kentucky was 28-51, 7-19 and 21-33. Crawford was 3-3 for the Cats from long range. Despite Auburn missing 48 shots from the floor compared to 23 by Kentucky, the Tigers were outrebounded by just one at 40-39.
Auburn also had less turnovers, 16, than Kentucky, 19.
The Tigers' next game is at LSU on Saturday at 2 p.m. That game will also be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports.