- Wednesday, January 10 2007 -
Auburn - 57 (Head Coach: Jeff Lebo) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 84 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, Auburn 19
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|Mississippi 68 - 58|||||Mississippi State 64 - 60|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK blasts Auburn for ninth straight win
Dwight Perry jogged to the scorer's table in the final minute of the Kentucky's game against Auburn with the Rupp Arena crowd chanting 'We want Dwight!' Thirty seconds later the walk-on guard buried a three-pointer as the horn blared, setting off a wild celebration from teammates and fans.
Unfortunately for Perry, the cousin of UK starting forward Bobby Perry, the shot was waved off for leaving his hand after the clock read all zeros. Luckily for UK, it had already slapped the finishing touches on an 84-57 blowout of the frigid Tigers. It was the Cats' ninth straight victory and continued a perfect start in Southeastern Conference play.
The 27-point rout was the largest victory of the year for UK, eclipsing a 23-point triumph over Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 17. If you ask the Cats it should have been an even 30.
"That was tough," Bobby Perry said of his cousin's shot being disallowed. "They could have counted it. The crowd was yelling so loud we didn't even hear (the buzzer). It was a great ending to a great game."
Truth be told it was somewhat of a ragged performance for the Cats, but one that ultimately saw them score their second highest point total of the year and shoot better than 50 percent for the fifth time in six game. Three times during that stretch the Cats have hit at least 56 percent from the field and dished out 19 assists or more.
Given UK also saw the return of the turnover bugaboo Ð they had 19 against Auburn Ð it was an indication the Cats have begun to master the offensive end of the floor.
"We shot the ball well," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We were focused and ready and sharing the basketball was a big key to our success. We gave the ball up to people the right way.
"Whenever you have 19 assists that means you are looking for people and getting open looks. Against the 1-3-1 (zone) you can get good looks if you're patient."
Just one day after Smith acknowledged UK was not worthy of being in the Top 25 despite a long winning streak the Cats came out and pounded a conference opponent that had lost 41 of its 43 trips to Lexington. UK jumped out to a 12-2 lead and never looked back, maintaining a double-digit lead for the final 25 minutes of action.
The game wasn't without its problems though. Despite holding Auburn to just 27.9 percent shooting on the night, the Tigers pulled within 63-49 with 5:05 remaining on reserve guard Kelvin Lewis' fourth three-pointer of the second half. The Tigers hit only three of their fist 21 triples before Lewis knocked down bombs on three straight possessions and then saw Frank Tolbert hit a fourth in a row.
Knowing they have a propensity to watch leads vanish down the stretch, the Cats used an Auburn timeout after the final triple to refocus on the task at hand and make a final push.
"It was difficult because at the half we wanted to break the game out," junior guard Joe Crawford said. "We still have to work on putting a team down. We waited a little too long and they hit a couple of open threes."
UK closed the game in emphatic fashion though, scoring 18 points over the final 2:31 to break the game open. During the stretch Crawford dunked off a backdoor cut and a feed from Ramel Bradley and added an assist of his own to finish his second consecutive strong outing with 21 points and five rebounds. Bradley hit four free throws to cap an impressive 18-point, 11-rebound, seven-assist effort, the first double-double of his career.
"If I had known I was close (to a triple-double) I would have passed more," Bradley said.
No matter, the Cats still got to celebrate in the end, even if it was over a shot that didn't count.
Perry Stevenson swats Quantez Robertson's shot
Dwight Perry shoots at the end of the game (shot was good but ruled after time had expired)