Kentucky trio of Tshiebwe, Wallace, and Reeves combine for 62 points in statement 86-52 win against Auburn.
LEXINGTON – February 25, 2023 – David Leveridge- Bluegrass Sports Nation
John Calipari and Bruce Pearl are two of the most iconic coaches in present day SEC Basketball. The two coaches have developed a heated rivalry and Coach Cal leads Pearl 13-8 in all time appearance while coaching at Kentucky entering today’s contest. Today’s contest between Auburn and Kentucky had huge impacts on both teams. Auburn was 19-9 and not currently projected to make the NCAA Basketball Tournament and Coach Pearl job is on the hot seat as the Tigers have underperformed this year. With a week left in the season Kentucky is firmly projected into the upcoming NCAA tourney, and a win against the Auburn Tigers would likely improve the seed for the CATS, a loss could move Kentucky down in the rankings and move Kentucky to the bubble. The Rivalry brought out the best in Coach Cal as his team Kentucky dominated Auburn with an 86-52 victory.
Being an annual media member since the 2017 season and covering the CATS at least once per year and visiting Rupp on numerous occasions. The Atmosphere at Rupp Arena was the loudest it has been from start to finish I’ve witnessed in several years while covering the Kentucky Wildcats. From Pregame festivities throughout the first half, halftime and the entire second half Rupp was loud with the most passionate fan base in College Basketball. Earlier in the season it was hard to fill Rupp Arena, and lets not forget the fan who was escorted from the arena with a Fire Cal sign. Kentucky has come along way since the team struggled a few weeks ago, as fans were passionate and the players fed off the energy the crowd created during the game.
Kentucky played their best game of the season and Rupp Arena responded with loud ovations supporting the CATS as Kentucky dominated Auburn. Even when the CATS wasn’t on the floor the game had moments that captivated the crowd. During the half the crowd witnessed a great halftime performance and even a proposal at center court. At one of the tv media timeouts in the second half the UK Dance team was joined at center court by a former Americas Got Talent contestant and had everyone entertained with his dancing ability.
In the first half of the game, the teams were competitive as Auburn kept the game close mainly with the play of Center Johni Broome. Kentucky had an early 10-9 lead as Oscar Tshiebwe was dominant on both ends of the floor. Kentucky finished the half with a comfortable eleven-point lead and led Auburn 40-29 at intermission. In the Second half Kentucky dominated Auburn growing the lead to forty points and Rupp Arena was as excited as its been in years. In the closing moments of the game Coach Cal played his walk-ons and Auburn finished the game on an 8-0 run. Kentucky dominates Auburn with convincing fashion 86-52 and have begun to peak going into the conference tournament and March madness.
1st half The atmosphere at Rupp Arena was incredible with a sold out crowd and the fans were exceptionally loud as the Big Blue Nation cheered on the CATS. The First half was close Kentucky had an early 10-9 lead, but Kentucky finished the half on a sixteen to four run and created some separation leading Auburn 40-29 at intermission. The battle down low between Oscar Tshiebwe and Auburn Johni Broome featured two of the best in the SEC. Each player led their team in scoring in the first half with Broome totaling nine points and four rebounds. Tshiebwe finished the half with a double double totaling 14 points and ten rebounds. Tshiebwe also provided an early highlight completing a lob from Wallace with a two-hand dunk, as Rupp Arena shook with excitement. The first half also marked the return of Injured Wildcat CJ Frederick who has missed several games with a hurt rib. Cason Wallace was phenomenal in the first half connecting on two made 3 PT FG and helped Kentucky expand the lead, Wallace finished the half with eleven points. At intermission Kentucky led Auburn 40- 29.
2nd half. As impressive as Kentucky was in the first half, the second half the CATS took control of the game had Rupp Arena excited. Kentucky opened the half with a thirteen to five run and led Auburn 53-34. Antonio Reeves only had three points in the first half, caught fire in the second half connecting on back to back 3 PT FG and the decibel rating of Rupp Arena raised as fans were loud and excited. Reeves finished the game with twenty- one points while making four 3PT FG. Wallace and Chris Livingston both had great games and provided moments that excited the Rupp Arena Patrons. Wallace finished the game with 19 points and nine assists. Livingston only contributed with six points but had two Sports Center worthy driving to the basket dunks. Kentucky ultimately grew the lead to forty points and led Auburn 86-46, before coach Cal let the reserve players finish the game. Auburn scored the last six points of the game, but the game was already decided with Kentucky prevailing with a dominating performance and defeating Auburn 86- 52.
With two games left in the season, Coach Cal has the Kentucky team firmly in the NCAA tournament and are peaking heading into March madness. For the first time since Early December Kentucky has been able to win four consecutive games and while the BBN was ready to throw in the towel and fire Calipari a few weeks ago the fans seem back on board and confident in the team. Kentucky will finish the season hosting the Vanderbilt Commodores at Rupp Arena on Wednesday March 1st, at 7:00 pm and the last game will be on the road against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday March 4th, at 2:00 pm Bud Walton Arena.
Stats: Game Stats.
- Kentucky 86 / Auburn 52
- FG % 56 / 34
- 3 PT FG % 62 / 33
- FT 14-15 93% / 9-14 64 %
- Rebounds 41 / 23
Player Stats Kentucky:
- Jacob Toppin 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assets.
- Chris Livingston 6 points, 2 rebounds
- Oscar Tshiebwe 22 points, 17 rebounds, FT 6-6
- Antonio Reeves 21 points, 3 Pt FG 4-7, 1 rebound.
- Cason Wallace 19 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, FT 5-6.
Player Stats Auburn:
- Jaylyn Williams 13 points, 4 rebounds,
- Johni Broome 12 points, 1 rebound.
- Wendell Green Jr. 9 points, 2 rebounds.
- Alan Flanigan 7 points, 1 rebound.
- K.D. Johnson 7 points, 1 rebound.