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Kentucky holds on to win 82-80 at Auburn

Keldon Johnson had 20 points against Auburn. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky freshmen Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro both had 20 points to help UK win 82-80 at Auburn Saturday despite getting outscored by 21 points from 3-point range.

“Just a great road win for this young Kentucky team that it can really build on,” said UK Radio Network analyst Tony Delk, a former UK All-American. “To silence this crowd at times was very impressive.”

Kentucky went on a 9-0 run to finish the first half and then a 10-2 run to start the second half to open a 48-31 lead with 17 minutes to play. However, Auburn never quit challenging the Cats or taking 3-pointers and finally took the lead at 80-79 with 25 seconds to play on a 3-pointer by Jared Harper.

Kentucky didn’t waste time answering when Herro got fouled with 24.1 seconds left. He made both free throws to get the lead back for UK.

Auburn took its time before Harper drove on Ashton Hagans, UK’s best defender, and got to the rim. His shot went in but came out and Immanuel Quickley rebounded with :04 left. He made one free throw and Auburn missed a half-court desperation shot to enable UK to win.

“I was preaching just quit looking at the scoreboard and play the way that got us the lead,” UK senior Reid Travis, who had 17 points and seven rebounds, said after the win. “That’s what we finally did to get a great win.”

PJ Washington also had 13 points and seven rebounds and didn’t let a late questionable flagrant foul against him impact the rest of his game.

Hagans finished with 6 points on 2-for-4 shooting but also had seven rebounds, six assists and one steal — which snapped his streak of games with three or more steals at five.

“We just stayed together and had each other’s back. We stuck together the whole time. They were all against us and we had to stay together,” Johnson said. “Basketball is a game of runs. We just knew we had to keep playing.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari said his team was “ready to bury” the Tigers when it made some careless mistakes and “reverted” back to a high school mentality. However, the coach was thrilled to get the road win and push UK’s SEC record to 4-1.

“These guys don’t know the difference home and road. They are just playing basketball. Today was one of our better games,” Calipari said.

17 comments

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  1. A great win…congratulations! The team that beat UNC and U of L did show up and found a way to hang on for the win. Hopefully they will look at what caused the 17 point lead to melt away and learn from it. It doesn’t get any easier but this team has grown and should be confident to take the court with anyone. Each tough game is just another step that is needed in getting ready for 2 games with Tennessee. Keep it up.

    1. Kind of changed your tune there Catmandoo 1000. All we heard from you last week, even after a 20 point win at Georgia, is gloom and doom after a win against, what did you say, an “inferior” team. I tell you how they lost the 17 point lead yesterday. It was called “home cooking.” A whole lot more fouls should have been called against Auburn for mugging our guards. That fragrant foul on Washington was BS. Auburn is a good team, playing before a packed house, Hard to defend a good 3 point shooting team too when refs are calling fouls like they were yesterday. I didn’t see any lack of effort from any UK player, NONE! The SEC is loaded this year. UK will be fortunate to win the SEC championship. That said, they sure ain’t out of the picture either. Auburn just buried tough shots down the stretch,I give them a little credit. Best UK win so far IMO. This UK team is getting better each week now. No complaints here.

      1. Let’s see Pup, Georgia and Vanderbilt are the 2 bottom teams in the league, so yeah, I would say that is inferior. As for the “home cooking”, that’s always going to be the case on the road in the SEC. The refs will take a game from them if they don’t gut it out, i.e. Alabama. As for the gloom and doom, that’s what the effort against Alabama, Vandy, and A&M would indicate. Maybe enough valid criticism lit a fire under Calipari and his team. They are definitely a different team now. As for them getting better each week, that wasn’t happening either. They played poorly all the way up to the UNC and U of L games and played great in those two, then went back to uninspired play until Georgia. The real question now is will they regress…again…or will they keep bringing it? We will know soon enough.

        1. As to which team UK is now, slacker or champ, You are right, we will know soon. Peace my friend. I enjoy your posts. Keep it lively on VV’s . We are all pulling for the same team, I know that, except for maybe Mike, LOL.

  2. A GREAT win on the road for sure. These Cats didn’t appear to want to let us enjoy it too much 2nd half as they actually outscored us. I had the game penciled in as a L until I saw that Wiley wasn’t going to play. He plays and we probably do lose. We fought till the end and did what we had to do. I kept waiting for both PJ ‘sand Travis to take over 2nd half because the middle was open but didn’t happen. If PJ would just play a complete he would be awesome. Oh by the way…..our guys Nick and EJ actually had 1 point between them and they each ended up with 1 rebound. EJ’s body language is really terrible. These 2 just don’t get it and don’t look for that to change.

    1. Geez Mike, are you ever satisfied with any UK team’s effort?

  3. Great win by Kentucky and an utter failure by Dick Vitale.
    I have never before seen such horrible color commentary (or the lack thereof). ESPN needs to put a muzzle on that loudmouthed buffoon.
    He and Charles Barkley are shameless, self-aggrandizing mic hogs.

    1. Vitale is hard to take, and always has been. The guy is a complete nut case. If him and that other announcer wasn’t rooting for Auburn yesterday, I’m a Cherokee Indian. Then to have to watch that loud mouthed Bruce Pearl and all his antics was difficult indeed. I am glad Calipari whipped his A$$ again. Big time win for the CATS.

      1. Vitale was beaming over the Auburn crowd, and the noise, etc. The only reason Pearl had a crowd there for his team was UK was in the house. Calipari is right about that being the case all the time on the road. Nothing wrong with that, it comes with the name. Kentucky has been the catalyst for raising the bar for basketball in the SEC. Everybody wants to beat the “Champ.” The SEC is loaded with good coaches now.

      2. Barkley said his dream was to call a game alongside Vitale.
        If that ever comes to pass, I’ll be hitting the mute button for sure.
        I ended up doing that yesterday after those two loved on each other (for what seemed like an eternity) while they ignored the game.
        It was a ridiculous sideshow, IMO.

        1. It was awful. Can’t believe ESPN would put up with such commentary and self glorification from those two, but then ESPN has no love for Kentucky either. Just call the game boys without all the cheer leading and hyper nonsense. Vitale is non-stop too. If there was anyway I could keep the TV and radio broadcast in sync, I would listen to Leach more instead of the TV. When Vitale is on the broadcast team, I find myself watching the TV on mute a lot.

        2. they did spread the love to each other

  4. You are right Pup. The SEC won’t become dominant though until the others want to beat non conference foes as bad as they want to beat UK.

  5. Pup, I’m like you I thought the cats play there best all around game of the seaspn. We got some fan base that’s never satisfied when the cats win or lose. If you watch closely there were I know 2 of fouls that was callon the cats the Auburn players were faking it they got hit . It was a good road win for the cats and they are growing.

    1. Right on CATS79. I agree.

  6. Pup….very fair question to ask….am I ever satisfied with team effort? Yes, I am but I understand how that may not come thru with some of my posts. I just have zero tolerance of these guys coming in after committing to putting on the uniform and that acting like they don’t give a shit…PJ only plays about half a game, Nick’s development and motivation pathetic for being a sophomore and playing against top talent in practice, and EJ apparently has some voids between the ears and might be afraid of his own shadow. I blame this on the players themselves and the coaching staff. I am very happy with the play of the other players.

    1. I see. This is what I saw. I didn’t see any lack of effort Sat against Auburn from any UK player on the floor. Some gave more than others obviously. One does not have to score 30 points a game to be effective as a team player. As for PJ, he was the difference maker in many ways Sat. I do think Nick is improving and will be a good player at what he is being asked to do going forward, and that is rim protection. EJ just needs more playing time and confidence. A win on the road like that against a ranked team is hard to come by. I saw hustle and desire, good solid defense, and a total team effort.

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