By LARRY VAUGHT
Auburn beat Kentucky earlier this season by driving to the basket and drawing fouls and more fouls. The Tigers shot 44 foul shots and simply overpowered Kentucky.
On Saturday the Wildcats got to the foul line 33 times and made 27 while Auburn got only 22 free throws — half what it got the first game — and made 13. That was a 14-point advantage from the foul line for UK that helped offset Auburn making nine 3-pointers to just two for UK.
But the Tigers attempted 34 3-pointers. After making their first four, they made just five of the next 30.
“The way they got back in games it is shooting those 3’s. They just didn’t make them today. And then we rebounded. So, some of it was, you really guarded. Yeah, they took some tough 3’s, but that’s what they have done to win games,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They have been down nine, eight, and all of a sudden, they go 3, 3.
“Something happens, you miss a free throw, they make free throws, it goes into overtime and they win. They have had a bunch of those kind of games. We played the pick-and-roll a little bit different. We had to switch it at halftime because we were giving layups and lobs and dunks. We adjusted to that.”
So why did Auburn rely on the 3-pointer so much after picking apart the UK defense the first game, especially after getting UK center Nick Richards in early foul trouble?
“Because I didn’t think if we drove – there was contact – I wasn’t confident we would shoot free throws,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
“We are on the road, playing at Rupp. I figured we needed to shoot a little bit, and I thought we did,” Pearl said .”Kentucky leads the league in blocked shots, and they blocked some shots.
“The closer that you get to the basket at Kentucky, you don’t always look. If we made some of those shots in the second half and made a couple of free throws, we are right there. But we didn’t.”