Lexington, KY (EETV)- Kentucky claimed a share of the SEC title as they defeated Auburn 73-66 in the second matchup of the season. Costly mistakes by Auburn were the difference down the stretch as they missed crucial free throws to get them within a single possesion game.
Bruce Pearl said after the game, “We didn’t shoot as well in the second half as we did in the first half, and Kentucky played really well defensively. You’ve got to make shots and you’ve got to defend without fouling.”
Auburn took an early 18-9 lead thanks to three consecutive three-point shots from Danjel Purifoy. The Tigers were 4 for 4 from three until Kentucky raced back into the lead with a 13 to 5 run to take a 23-21 lead.
Auburn would cut the lead three at halftime when Anfernee McLemore put up a contested shot which fell with one second remaining.
Both teams battled totaling 23 fouls and 55 trips to the free-throw line. Auburn struggled from beyond the arc as they went 9 for 34 in the game. Free throws were the difference as the Tigers shot 13 for 22.
Kentucky's guards Tyrese Maxey and Emmanuel Quickley led the way for the Wildcats with Quickley leading the all scorers with 18 points and Maxey who scored 17.
Auburn's J'von McCormick led the team scoring 13 points in the second half alone. Austin Wiley added another double-double to his career as he scored 10 points with 12 rebounds.
“Second half, Coach Pearl told me to be aggressive, get back to scoring, so that’s what I tried to do,” McCormick said.
Kentucky has now won 49 SEC regular season titles and will be the no.1 seed in the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Under John Calipari they have won six titles which is the most of any head coach in the last two decades.
Auburn's record goes to 24-5 (11-5 SEC) and they will play their final home game next Wednesday againnst Texas A&M at 6pm before playing their final regular season game at Tennessee next Saturday. Coverage of Wednesday's game will be aired on ESPN2.