Streaking and Struggling: UK Visits Auburn

Unbeaten Kentucky looks for an 18th straight victory at Auburn on Saturday in an SEC men's basketball game.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo's struggling Auburn basketball team will be looking for its first SEC victory of the season on Saturday as the Tigers play host to perhaps the hottest team in the country.

The Kentucky Wildcats, 17-0 and ranked No. 2 nationally, feature a trio of freshman stars and one of the nation's top junior post players.

Tipoff is 3 p.m. CST at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Other than student tickets, the game is a sellout. It will be televised on the SEC Network.

Auburn will be trying to bounce back from an embarrassing Thursday night road loss at Tennessee. The Tigers, who led by as many as a dozen points in the first half, were steam-rollered in the second half on the way to losing 81-55 to the Volunteers.

Fans at the coliseum will get a chance to see SEC Player of the Year candidate John Wall, a 6-4 freshman guard who is averaging a team-leading 17.3 points per game and a team-best 7.1 assists per game.

John Wall

Wall, expected to be a one-and-done player as a collegian, will likely be playing in the NBA at this time next year. The guard has played a major role in re-energizing the UK fan base.

It takes an impressive player to overshadow the two other freshman starters who are also having strong seasons for the Wildcats. DeMarcus Cousins, a 6-11, 260 center from Mobile, is averaging 15.3 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game that ranks third in the Southeastern Conference.

Freshman point guard Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham, a 6-1, 190 guard, is averaging 11.3 points and 3.9 assists per contest.

Another key player for Coach John Calipari's Wildcats is 6-9, 235-pound junior Patrick Patterson. He is averaging 16.6 points per game and 8.1 rebounds.

Kentucky is a heavy favorite to run its winning streak to 11 in a row in the series vs. the Tigers, who come into the contest with a 9-8 record that includes an 0-2 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats, who won at Florida 89-77 on Tuesday night with Bledsoe scoring 27 points, are 2-0 in the SEC.

"They have got a lot of pros," Auburn's Lebo says in commenting on the Cats. "They have a lot of guys you are going to see in the next few years, maybe next year, in the NBA.

"It reminds me of the old Kentucky teams when Coach (Rick) Pitino was there," Lebo adds. "There is not just one pro or two. They have got maybe six guys that could have chance to play in the NBA. They are playing with incredible. They are very athletic and have great size."

Senior guard DeWayne Reed leads Auburn in scoring at 16.1 points per contest with sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan next with an average of 13.6 points per game.

Kentucky has dominated the series with an 83-17 advantage including a 26-13 record in games played at Auburn.

Lebo's Auburn teams are 0-5 vs. the Wildcats. The coach is 0-1 in matchups against UK's Calipari, falling 79-73 to the Memphis Tigers in the quarter-finals of the NIT when Lebo coached at Tennessee Tech in 2002.

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