Auburn (8-8, 0-5 SEC) hung tough for the first five minutes of the game before Patrick Sparks canned a three pointer at the 14:20 mark to give the Cats a little cushion at 10-6. Later Bobby Perry and Ravi Moss would chip in with back to back threes that would give the Cats an 18-11 cushion. Crawford would give Kentucky its biggest lead of the half at 32-19 with a pair of threes, the latter coming at the 5:22 mark.
The Tigers would come back, however, and closed the margin to six at the half, 49-43. Auburn, would get no closer, however. In the second half the Wildcats began to build on its lead. Ravi Moss would can a couple of free throws to extend the Cats to a 55-45 lead. Sophomore guard Rajon Rondo keep the Cats cookin' with three field goals in one two and a half minute span to give the Cats its widest margin of the night at 66-48 with 5:23 remaining.
The Wildcats continued its dominance of Auburn, winning its 21st contest in the last 22 attempts. Despite dominating the Tigers for most of the second half, Kentucky struggled in a number of areas. The Cats shot just 1-11 from three point range and finished with just 43% total FG shooting after shooting 54% in the first half of play. And the Wildcats were outrebounded for the second game in a row, this time by a margin of 31-27.
Center Randolph Morris contributed offensively early on but played a total of only 14 minutes due to foul problems. Despite Morris‘ foul problems the Wildcats used its bench rather sparingly. Ravi Moss played 24 minutes, however and chipped in with a three pointer and four straight free throws.
Kentucky heads back to Lexington where the team will prepare for its next game in Rupp Arena against Arkansas (13-5, 2-3 SEC). The Razorbacks are winners of two of their last three games, including a 68-52 road win over this same Auburn team Kentucky played tonight. Earlier this season, the Hogs were within four points of #3 UCONN on the road with under 5 minutes play. Arkansas forced 23 UCONN turnovers before eventually dropping the game by nine points.
POST GAME NOTES
* UK leads the series 80-17, including a 25-13 advantage in games played in Auburn and a 22-9 lead in games at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
Team game notes
* Tubby Smith used his eighth starting lineup of the season as Patrick Sparks, Rajon Rondo, Joe Crawford, Bobby Perry and Randolph Morris earned the starting nod.
* Key Run: Kentucky used a 17-5 run midway through the second half to take an 18-point lead at 66-48.
* UK was 22-of-51 from the floor for a 43.1 percent showing. Auburn shot 42.0 percent on the night. Kentucky is 11-2 when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent this year.
* The Cats canned seven three-pointers for the 11th time this season. UK is 8-3 this season when making seven or more three-pointers in a game.
* Kentucky lost the rebounding battle for the second consecutive game, 35-34. The Wildcats are 4-3 this season when being outrebounded by their opponent.
* Kentucky led 39-28 at halftime. The Wildcats are 11-1 when leading at the break this season. Joe Crawford had nine first-half points, coming on 3-for-3 three-point shooting.
* Kentucky shot 54 percent in the first half, topping 50 percent in the opening stanza for the second straight game.
Individual game notes
· Joe Crawford tied his career high with 23 points and added a career-best nine rebounds. He also tied his career best for three-pointers made with four (4-of-6). Tonight marked his second career 20-point game after setting that career best of 23 vs. Ohio in December. Overall, Crawford was 5-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.
· Rajon Rondo added 12 points for his 12th double-figure scoring game of the season and his second in the last three games. Rondo added eight rebounds and three assists.
· Randolph Morris had eight points but no rebounds. It was his first game without a rebound this season and only the fourth of his career.