Tigers to Face Improving Kentucky Team

A preview of Wednesday night's Kentucky at Auburn basketball game is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--After being written off earlier this season as close to a total disaster, the Kentucky Wildcats are making a comeback.

Coach Billy Gillispie's team will try to continue that trend as it travels to Auburn for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum against a team that is trying to snap a three-game losing streak.

Kentucky entered SEC play with a 6-7 record and lost two of its first three league games, but the Wildcats have bounced back to improve their conference record to 4-2.

"Kentucky seems to be playing a lot better now," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo says. "They are a little banged up so you don't know who is going to play against us. They still have weapons. (Joe) Crawford has been playing terrific. Ramel Bradley, before he got hurt, has been superb. (Patrick) Patterson is as good as any freshman in the country inside.

"They seem to be defending very well and have been very, very aggressive on the defensive end," Lebo adds. "I know that is the way that Billy wants them to play."

Ramel Bradley

Gillispie says he isn't sure what the status of Bradley will be for Wednesday night after the guard suffered a concussion in a road victory at Georgia over the weekend. The 6-2 senior is averaging 15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

"He is not doing great," says Gillispie, who notes that Bradley is still recovering from the concussion while also trying to recover from a viral infection. "We thought he would be a little bit better by now, but he is not." However, the UK coach says he isn't counting the senior out for Wednesday night's game vs. Auburn.

Bradley is Kentucky's third leading scorer. The top point producer is Patterson, a 6-8, 232-pound forward from Huntington, West Virginia, who is having a terrific first season in college. He is averaging 17.1 points per game and leads the team in rebounds with 7.9 per outing.

The Wildcats are getting plenty of production from 6-5 senior guard Joe Crawford, who is averaging 16.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Rounding out the tentative starting lineup are 6-8, 238 sophomore Mark Coury and 6-6, 213 sophomore Ramon Harris, an Alaskan who is averaging 3.7 points and 3.4 rebounds. Coury is averaging 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

Jodie Meeks, a 6-4 sophomore guard, missed the Georgia game with a hip problem. He is averaging 10.1 points and 2.9 rebounds and Gillispie says Meeks hasn't made significant improvement yet.

Frank Tolbert hit five threes in Auburn's last game.

The Tigers had a chance to upset 18th-ranked Vanderbilt until the closing minutes on Saturday in Nashville, but the Commodores pulled away for a 78-71 win despite a career-high 32 points from Frank Tolbert.

"They don't play a whole lot of guys, but the ones they do play, they play very hard," Gillispie says of the Tigers. "They really play well together," he adds.

Auburn will try to get junior Rasheem Barrett back on track offensively. He was held scoreless at Vandy, going 0-9 from the field. In Auburn's three previous games prior to traveling to Nashville, Barrett had averaged 19.7 points per contest.

Barrett is averaging 13.5 points, which is second among the active players on the roster to Quan Prowell's 14.0 per contest.

Basketball Notes: Kentucky holds an 81-17 lead in the all-time series vs. the Tigers. The Wildcats have won eight straight times vs. Auburn. UK is 22-9 vs. Auburn in games played at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum...AU's Jeff Lebo is 0-3 in games he has coached against UK...Auburn's free throw shooting continues to improve. Since the start of SEC play, the Tigers are making 70.8 percent of their free throws, which is the fifth best average in league play. AU has hit 80 percent of its free throws in the last four games. For the season the Tigers are hitting 64.1 percent at the foul line...Quantez Robertson, who has played in five games in which he went the distance with no substitutions, averages 37.2 minutes of court time per game, which is the most of any player in the SEC...Wednesday's game will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports.

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