Behind another typically balanced effort, UK dispatched Auburn 72-62 Saturday afternoon in Lexington. Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 14 points, and Willie Cauley-Stein continued his strong play of late with 12 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes. Nerlens Noel added 10 points and 12 rebounds, and avoided his first “block-less” game of the season with a minute left in the game. Ryan Harrow (12) and Julius Mays (10) joined them in double figures. It was also a big game for former walk-on Jarrod Polson, who scored only 3 points but gave the Cats a spark off the bench on the first half and played 20 minutes in the game, 3 more than starter Archie Goodwin who went 1-6 from the field and continued to struggle.
Chris Denson of Auburn led all scorers with 15 points off the bench. Denson played 29 minutes partly due to starter Jordan Granger being ejected for throwing a punch at Archie Goodwin during a scrum following a missed free throw. Goodwin was assessed a personal foul for a forearm to Granger’s neck on the rebound, and a technical for reacting to Granger’s punch.
The game was physical throughout the first half prior to the incident between Goodwin and Granger. Auburn coach Tony Barbee; who played under Calipari at Umass and coached with him at Memphis, bristled at the suggestion that his game plan was to be physical with UK saying, his team’s goal was “to be competitive”. Regardless of whether that was his strategy, it’s how the game played out in the 1st half, and for a while it was effective. Auburn led for most of the first 6 minutes, and looked the more energetic of the teams. However, in a situation where the young Cats could have easily looked past Auburn to their huge matchup with Florida, the physicality brought their focus back to Saturday's game.Now, Big Blue Nation and the Wildcats can begin preparing for the biggest game of the year to this point.
Photo: Flickr/Triple Tri
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