Kentucky continued its up and down season last night by dominating the Auburn (8-9, 2-2) Tigers en route to a 22 point behind another spectacular effort from Nerlens Noel and the fast improving play of Kyle Wiltjer. After an extremely slow start, the score was tied 6-6 more than 10 minutes in, Nerlens Noel picked up two quick fouls with UK leading 10-8 and eight and a half minutes to go in the first half. Already without starter Willie Cauley-Stein, who stayed home for a “double dose of treatment ” following a “minor knee procedure ”, UK appeared to be in for the dogfight Calipari predicted earlier this week. Kyle Wiltjer made sure that didn’t happen, scoring 9 of his game high 17 points after Noel sat, and finding Alex Poythress for two easy dunks as UK found some breathing room to lead 30-25 at halftime. UK (12-5, 3-1) once again came out hot in the 2nd half and stretched their lead to double digits permanently when Kyle hit a 3-pointer five minutes into the 2nd half for a lead 44-33. Wiltjer finished with 4 rebounds and 5 assists along with his 17 points. Noel, (who picked up his 3rd foul 13 seconds into the 2nd half) finished with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks; plus this tremendous alley-oop dunk , in 25 minutes. Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, and Alex Poythress added 12 points apiece.
The stats don’t tell the whole story. Days after Calipari publicly wondered if this team was able to get a 20 point lead and hold it, or “whomp” somebody, they did exactly that. Granted, Auburn is not a good team and whomping them isn’t a sign that things are back to the level most expect in Lexington, but following a home loss and nearly blowing a big lead to an inferior team on the road, this is certainly a sign of improvement. UK will get a better measure Tuesday, when they visit Alabama, winners of three straight.
Photo: Flickr/MegRobertsonNY 
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