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Kentucky pulls away late to beat Auburn 73-66 to claim SEC championship

Nick Richards (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky turned to its defense to wrap up another SEC championship.

Auburn missed 10 of its last 12 shots as UK pulled away for a 73-66 victory, it’s eighth straight SEC victory.

Kentucky won even though its three starting guards were a combined 10-for-36 from the field — Ashton Hagans was 2 of 13, Tyrese Maxey 5 of 13 and Immanuel Quickley 3 of 10.

However, Quickley did go 11-for-11 at the foul line to finish with a game-high 18 points along with a team-high 12 rebounds. Maxey was 7-for-8 at the line to get 17 points and he also had seven rebounds.

“Our guards have to rebound,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “When you are playing three point guards, you can get outreboun

“We tried different guys on him (Quickley). Maxey and Quickley go 18-for-19 at the free throw line. We fouled them too much,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.

Center Nick Richards only got to play 18 minutes due to foul trouble but finished with 14 points. However, he had just three rebounds.

Nate Sestina provided some needed scoring, too, with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

“Him making a couple of shots was big,” Calipari said.

Auburn knocked UK out of the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight last year. Pearl thinks the Cats could do serious NCAA damage again.

“I think they are the best team in our league. They are the hottest team in our league,” Pearl said. “They are physical offensively and they have got all the pieces. I thought we played pretty well in defeat. Kentucky played really good defensively. We weren’t able to defend without fouling.

“I really like Kentucky’s team. I really like their coach. I think they are very undervalued. I am rooting for them to go a long way.”

Calipari was disappointed his team was just 2-for-13 from 3-point range.

“That was another rock fight,” Calipari said. “We proved to us that in that kind of game that we can perform.”

Kentucky got clobbered at the foul line in a loss at Auburn but went 27 of 33 at the line — 81.8 percent for its 12th straight game shooting 75 percent or higher at the foul line — while Auburn was 13 of 22 after shooting 44 against UK four weeks ago.

Auburn opened the game hitting four straight 3-pointers but missed 26 of its next 30.

“Nick had a big block late that helped, too,” Calipari said. “The way they got back in games was shooting 3’s. They just didn’t make them today. That is what they have done to win games. We played the pick and roll a little different in the second half.

“They have seniors and they are a good team and a dangerous team. This was a good win for our guys.”

12 comments

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  1. Auburn came to play, I’ll say that. UK won it at the FT line, and I’ll gladly take it. SEC Champs has a nice ring to it. No. 49 is quite an accomplishment for this awesome program. Now Cats, go win these last two, and then the SEC Tourney.

  2. Glad UK got a hard fought win with only 7 turnovers. Games like this should help UK in the tournament.
    The officiating was as bad as I have seen this year; and it was pretty bad both ways.
    Would like to see UK play a game where all 3 guards are making shots. That would be fun to watch.
    Still too many 5 footers and layups missed. If UK can 50% of those, it will help a lot.
    Still don’t understand why Hagans is still jacking up so many shots when he is not hitting. Several times he stood out there dribbling the ball, never looking to drive or pass and then throws up a prayer. If they back off, move in or drive and pass.
    Still a good win, and many of today’s shortcomings can be corrected easily; all except the very poor officiating. If other conferences are as bad as the SEC, the Big Dance will be filled with controversy and/or favoritism.

    1. You are right on the officiating OF. They are letting players absolutely assault Richards, and call him for touch fouls. Him and EJ. Many missed calls that almost cost UK the game. They missed some against UK too though. It was a hard fought game.

      Hagans is in a bit of a slump now. I sure hope he shores it up before the NCAA tourney. UK needs his “A” game. He is pressing to much.

      All world Duke goes down at Virginia, life is good right now boys.. I bet they move up to a 1 seed now sports fans, what say you?

      The only thing wrong with college basketball today IMO is Rafftery and old Vitale on the call. Especially when you have to sit and listen to the both of them for four plus hours, lol.

  3. No disrespect intended, but all those guys who only enjoy basketball if we add championships, one down, two to go. Lets enjoy the process and get this team across the finish line together-Go Cats!

  4. I haven’t had more than 2 hrs of deep sleep in about 2 weeks, since I’m old as dirt, but I’ll sleep with a smile on my face tonight, knowing that ESPN covered over Duke’s loss as much as possible today, and that UNCheats will miss The Dance unless they win the ACC tourney–Haaaaaaaaa!

  5. Pup, I wonder why Professor and 33.not celebrating with us of the SEC title. This team is keeping the doubters wrong and were just beginning to start as March madness is around the corner. Go Cats!!

    1. Seems odd don’t it? I say, based on their previous comments, that they don’t like John Calipari and his system, and want change, simple as that. It is hard to win a national championship every year, or two, like they both seem to require. I personally think 33 is none other than the former Catmandoo1000, and Mike, who I now believe was one and the same person.

  6. Of course winning the SEC Championship is a terrific achievement for any UK team, and the SEC Tournament should be just as important to this coach as it is to the fan base.

    Many fans schedule vacations around the SEC Tournament and take it in as the only opportunity to see their team play live. For Calipari to downgrade its importance or significance is a disservice to the fans.

    Too bad that he feels compelled every year about this time of year to let us all know how he feels about the SEC Tournament. What kind of message does that send to his players?

  7. Well proffessor his record has speak itself of winning the SEC tournament. Don’t you ever think he says that to enhance the chances of another SEC team to make in the March Madness.

  8. And another thing Proffessor I really think clinching the regular conference is just as important winning the SEC tournament which a money making theme

  9. Wow, Pup you are one to be pittied. I can’t imagine how empty your life must be. I am guessing these other people you are equating me to be must have said something you disagreed with too. God forbid that from ever happening since you obviously the authority on anything Kentucky.
    Its nice to be regular season champs again and have the No. 1 seed for our tourney. What concerns me is the way we played. Our guards shot a collective 28% compared to 75% for our big guys, yet the bigs are only taking a third of the shots. Hagans goes 2 for 13 and 0 for 3 from the trifecta line and only has 5 assists. He is definitely more focused on scoring than running the team. With a 3 game lead, we should be the overwhelming favorite to win our tourney, but nobody will be shocked if we don’t.
    As for the Dance, I don’t see our guards taking us past the second weekend. We need to play through Nick, keep EJ and Keion more engaged, and hope Nate keeps showing up.
    As for you Pup, I guess you must have been kicked around the playground too much. You make critical comments and that’s ok. If anyone else does, that’s a sin according to Pup, the God of Kentucky anything. The season will be over soon, as will the Tournament. It would be nice to get to another Final 4, but I don’t see it coming. What will you do for 8 months not having someone to cyber bully? You and your cronies will most likely keep glued to this site for any kind of self edification you can derive from it, the rest of us will go about our lives thinking maybe next year, but then next year comes and all we get is more of the same. I guess we have become convinced that we should only expect to win it all once every 10 to 15 years. Maybe we will get No. 9 before Coach calls it quits, maybe. Right now, I would settle for another Final 4.

    1. It’s called win and advance 33, but thank you so much for the recognition herein Catmandoo1000, Mike, oh I mean 33 now. You made my day boy. That is the old “playground line” you all used a lot when I put the heat on you two (really one) for trashing Coach and the Cats 24/7 in 2019. You are off to a good start again as nostalgic33. Nice handle, but your the same dude. You had to come back under a different handle since you lost the football bet, and were under extreme duress from my soaring rhetoric. You don’t remember that? Sure you do. As for life after basketball, well, I will get into UK baseball, cheer them on, then wait patiently for the real man’s sport to start up, football. By the way, are you still going to trash Stoops and Gran in 2020 like you used to, LOL. Oh, by the way, are you still in love with what’s his name, Satterfield, Satterwhite, whatever, the Louisville head football man? I know boy, Now say my claim on you ain’t so and I may cut you some slack. As for this UK basketball team, and the current SEC regular season champion, I look for them to win it all hoss. Go Cats. LOL’s

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