- Saturday, February 27 1993 -
Auburn - 78 (Head Coach: Tommy Joe Eagles) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 80 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 2nd by AP]
Halftime Score: Auburn 37, Kentucky 36
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 77 - 78|||||Mississippi 98 - 66|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 2 No. 31. (All Rights Reserved)
Kentucky won (barely) its 26th straight Senior's Day game over Auburn by a score of 80-78. [JNB note - according to the JP commentators, one of whom was Joe Hall, UK started the tradition of a celebratory final game for its senior players back in 1967. Thus UK has technically never lost a SD game.]
Auburn had won their last 3 games and 8 of their last 12 before this one. Pitino followed his tradition of not starting seniors simply because they were seniors - Brown started as usual, but Braddy came off the bench, and Svoboda didn't get into the game at all [JNB note - I wonder if this is a first? A senior (even if a one-year transfer) not getting into his final home game?] Brassow started at forward in this game, which was a trifle unusual (his first start of the season).
Dale Brown opened the scoring with a 3, and UK went on a 10-0 run before Auburn finally scored. Auburn didn't even have anything resembling a good shot during that run, instead experiencing many forced and unforced errors. Nice Kentucky passing enabled UK to keep up the pressure, and a 12 point lead was established (Kentucky's largest, at 17-5), but then an Auburn run cut the lead to 2. Once again, Kentucky had a large number of easy layups which were blocked or tapped around, resulting in Auburn rebounds - the Cats still haven't learned to take the ball strongly to the basket to avoid this (or at least to pick up fouls!). Auburn's Wes Person and Reggie Gallon got hot, and the Tigers developed a 6 point lead, which UK promptly cut. The lead seesawed a bit as Auburn took a 37-36 halftime lead. Even with good close defense, the Tigers were burying their shots - they hit a superb 64% in the first half, and many times this was against very tight defense. It is hard to see how these guys could "only" be #4 in the West (they've since moved up to #3 after beating Alabama, which may be a little more reasonable).
As in many other games this year, UK roared back in the second half, but Auburn hung tough. Prickett had a couple of great one-on-one drives in which he easily blew past his opponent. UK continued to move the ball around well, but there were a few instances of overpassing where a player got the ball unexpectedly (even if he was open) and missed easy shots. The lead again went back and forth - there were 11 ties in the game (10 in the second half) and 14 lead changes!
Auburn stayed in the game and had a 5 point lead with 4 minutes left, at which point Brown hit a clutch 3, and Ford stole the ball shortly after Auburn inbounded, and made an easy layup which tied the game yet again with just under 3 minutes remaining. The Tigers went ahead by 1, and then Gimel Martinez, who had done little all game except foul, was himself fouled on a shot, and he hit 2 clutch free-throws which put UK up by a point. Auburn came back to tie it (there was a *lot* of free-throw shooting in this one, folks. Neither side wanted to give the other easy baskets), and UK had the ball for the last shot.
Kentucky moved the ball around for the last shot, and on a Travis Ford pass to Rhodes, Roderick managed to put in a nice 12 foot jumper with about 2 seconds left. Auburn had a length-of-the- court shot to win or tie the game. Person received the ball at about 40 feet from the basket (somewhat bobbly), and he turned and shot it from about 35 feet. The ball dipped into the basket, but rolled around and shot back out. Relieved Wildcat fans only a moment later realized that a 3 point shot by Auburn would've won the game for the Tigers.
Kentucky fans should not be discouraged by the closeness of this win - Auburn shot over 58% for the game, yet still lost. UK is now 35-2 against the Tigers at home. Pitino said that this was the worst defense played by his team all season, allowing Auburn to get 63.6% and 53.8% shooting in the halves.
Auburn coach Tommy Joe Eagles had a final word, too. "I'm tired of being a Senior Day opponent at Kentucky. I think three out of four years is totally and completely unfair. I'd like for somebody else in this league to feel the thrill and emotion of Senior Day at Kentucky."
Auburn's Wesley Person fights Jeff Brassow for the loose ball
Andre Riddick (#10) shoots inside over Auburn's Mark Hutton (#25)