Wildats Hold Off Lebo's Tigers at Rupp

Kentucky pulled ahead in the closing minutes to knock off visiting Auburn on Wednesday night.

Lexington, Ky.--Domination on the boards and at the free throw line allowed Kentucky to hold off Auburn in the second half and take a 74-63 SEC men's basketball victory on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.

The host Wildcats outscored the Tigers 26-2 at the free throw line and held a 42-22 edge in rebounding.

Auburn had a chance to win the game until the closing minutes thanks to a defense that forced 22 Kentucky turnovers, 12 more than the Tigers committed.

"We did a good job of keeping it close for most of the second half," said Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo. "We had them in a position where we wanted, but we just couldn't get it going offensively in the second half like we wanted."

Patrick Patterson, a 6-9 sophomore forward, put the Wildcats up for good with 8:23 left at 53-51 on an inside basket and a free throw to make the score 53-51.

Jodie Meeks then nailed three free throws and scored on a fastbreak basket to put the Wildcats up 58-51 with 7:01 to play. Auburn would not get any closer the rest of the night as 22,760 fans watched the action.

Meeks, the SEC's hottest player, led all scorers with 31 points as Kentucky emerged from the night 4-0 in the SEC as the only unbeaten team in conference play. Meeks hit 7-13 field goals, 5-9 threes and 12-13 free throws.

Patterson had a strong game inside with 21 points and 18 rebounds and got plenty of help from Perry Stevenson, who contributed another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Auburn, which dropped 11-7 compared to Kentucky's 15-4 overall mark, is now 1-3 in the conference going into Saturday's game at Arkansas.

DeWayne Reed led the Tigers with 22 points. He hit 5-11 threes and added three steals with two assists. The junior point guard had three turnovers.

Rasheem Barrett had a season-high 17 points as he hit 8-15 field goals, but nobody else stepped up offensively for the Tigers. Tay Waller only managed six points as he hit 2-10 field goals and Korvotney Barber scored just four points to go with five rebounds.

For the game the Tigers were outshot 52.5 percent to 38.8 percent from the field, but Auburn got off 67 field goals compared to 40 for UK.

Auburn was 10-26 on threes while UK hit 5-13. The Wildcats were 26-32 at the foul line while Auburn made 2-6.

"We wanted to not foul them, especially Patterson," Lebo said. "I thought we did a pretty good job not doing that, but still he got to the free throw line way too much. I thought a couple of times where he initiates the contact so much and they got it in there to him."

Lebo said the key to game was his team didn't score enough. "Defensively, we were good enough," he said. "They are good defensively, very solid defensively. Our problem wasn't defense. Our problem was scoring the basketball and their physicality and size really bothered us."

Kentucky's size advantage showed inside. The Wildcats blocked seven shots compared to one block for the visitors.

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