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Auburn knows it will be “time to step up” Saturday against No. 12 Kentucky

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl

By LARRY VAUGHT

Bryce Brown knows what to expect when No. 14 Auburn hosts No. 12 Kentucky Saturday afternoon.

“It will be a very exciting game,” Brown said after Auburn won 85-66 at Texas A&M. “Like always, every time we play Kentucky at home, the crowd and the fans are just amazing. The atmosphere, the intensity of a game – it will feel much like a rivalry. It’s time to step up.”

Brown believes winning the way the Tigers did at A&M will help going into Saturday’s game.

“That (win) will work wonders for us,” Brown said. “It’s our first true road win, and I feel like it helps us at home because we know if we can get the job done away from our place, we can definitely get it done at our place. We just want to keep getting as many road wins as we can because that will be the separator between us and other teams in the SEC. In the SEC, it’s hard to win road games.”

Kentucky will have a hard time winning if Brown has a first half like he did against the Aggies. He finished with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting and scored 18 consecutive points in a five-minute span when he hit four straight 3-pointers. He got just two points in the second half but backcourt teammate Jared Harper hit four 3’s and scored 15 points in the second half to finish with 17 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds.

Anfernee McLemore added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench. Chuma Okeke had 10 points and seven rebounds and Austin Wiley grabbed 12 rebounds for Auburn.
 
Auburn overwhelmed Texas A&M in second-chance points (20-8), points off turnovers (18-10), offensive rebounds (20-7) and bench points (27-5).

“We got beat by a very good basketball team,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “I thought that their defensive pressure and our inability to take care of the ball in the beginning of the game was critical. Harper and Brown dictated that game with their defensive pressure and their ability to make tough shots.”

Kennedy said Auburn plays a unique style.
 
“Their style of play was obviously different, they picked up full court and they pressured us and they denied ball reversals. We thought at times we were the Harlem Globetrotters trying to dribble, instead of making hard cuts and guys getting open and passing the ball,” Kennedy said. “When you don’t shoot the ball well as a team, teams load up and they get into gaps, so it’s hard to drive through a couple people.”
 
“Their ball pressure, they pressured the ball and instead of us being strong with the ball, we tried to break down the defense by playing one-on-one. We had seven assists and that’s what happens when you go one-on-one against pressure.”

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  1. I hope they amp down while we amp up!!! Our guys won’t be able to be sloppy and lackadaisical at any part of the game. I don’t know how you stop guys that score that quickly. Hopefully they will fall apart like they did at the SEC tournament.

  2. Strong UK defense and rebounding will win this game. If UK is timid they have no chance.

    1. Ditto

  3. Be curious to see who really shows up for the challenge. The question was asked earlier….Is PJ Alex Poythress 2.O..lot of evidence out there that he is. Why is it that we seem to have 1-2 players each year that do under perform and came in as 5*.

  4. EJ is too timid to step up and will be a non factor the rest of the way. Maybe next year we will see more from him after PJ and Reid are gone.

  5. Whether it is PJ, Nick, Skal and some others…does Cal not end up recruiting a disproportionate amount of timid 5*’s? I know high school competition much less , but Cal has been doing this too long not to have better track record.

    1. Good big men don’t come to UK. They saw how Bam was miss used and realize that Calipari is a guard lover.

  6. Appears we are about to lose out on Stewart this weekend. UW beating UK for bigs quite the headline. Cal needs to stop babying the bigs that he has. He uses psycho babble and plays softball with PJ, Nick, and Montgomery. Soon he will not even be recognized as a Top 10 recruiter or coach.

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