- Wednesday, January 21 2009 -
Auburn - 64 (Head Coach: Jeff Lebo) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 73 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 34, Auburn 33
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Georgia 68 - 45|||||Alabama 61 - 51|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Meeks, Patterson dominate in win over Auburn
Rasheem Barrett knew all about old friend Jodie Meeks coming when he arrived at Rupp Arena but it didn't take long for the Auburn forward to figure out handling Patrick Patterson was going to be no picnic either.
Meeks and Patterson have been two of the three constants in Kentucky's season and they showed up as scheduled yet again, pushing the Cats to a 73-64 victory over the Tigers in front of 22,760 fans at Rupp Arena. The unstoppable forces combined to score 52 points despite every one in the greater Lexington area knowing Auburn was taking every shot it could at least slowing their roll.
"You can say all you want and have a great game plan but when they decide to play they play," Barrett said. "(Patterson) is a beast, plain as day. One look at him and I said, 'I hope I can switch off (of him)."
Despite nursing what he termed a 'swollen' finger Patterson turned in arguably the best performance of his young career. The sophomore forward scored 21 points and added a career-high 18 rebounds in the face of constant double (and sometimes even triple) teams from Auburn's smaller, quicker athletes.
The attention never fazed Patterson.
"That's the best I've seen Patrick play all year," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. "Beast is a good word for it. Man alive, he's something else."
And yet he wasn't the only something the Cats (15-4, 4-0 SEC). Meeks turned in 31 points - his sixth 30-plus point effort of the season - despite being pushed, banged, hacked, shoved and generally undressed by a physical Auburn defense. As has been his custom this season Meeks' line score was balanced and efficient, including 7-of-13 from the field (5-of-8 from three-point range) and 12-of-13 from the charity stripe.
Barrett, who played on the Georgia Stars AAU team with Meeks in high school, had promised before the game his good friend wouldn't have a Tennessee-like night against his Auburn team. Meeks may not have approached 54 points but 31 was plenty to help UK overcome a sloppy ball-handling effort.
"Before the game I told him, 'I love you but you're not going to go for 30, 40 or 50 on us,'" Barrett said. "You all tell him he didn't get it straight up. Free throws don't count."
The smile on Barrett's face gave away his true intent but the message was loud and clear - no matter what tactics you try and employ to contain UK's Batman and Robin they don't seem to work. Not even those two are sure what would be effective against them.
"I don't know but I think we stay patient and try not to force stuff," Meeks said. "When that much stuff is thrown at you it opens up a lot of other stuff. It's not all about me and Patrick, it's about the team."
This wasn't an effort for the faint of heart. Auburn led for much of the first half before Ramon Harris' transition lay-up at the buzzer gave the Cats a one-point lead at the break. Three consecutive Auburn turnovers and back-to-back Meeks' threes to start the second half seemed to put UK in firm control with a 42-33 lead but Auburn wouldn't go away and even took a 51-48 lead on a Frankie Sullivan three with 9:08 remaining.
From there the Cats buckled down defensively and ripped off a 12-0 spurt during which they forced Auburn to miss seven consecutive shots. By the time the Tigers gathered themselves they trailed 60-51 with 4:36 on the clock and never got any closer than six the rest of the way.
In the end though, Meeks and Patterson were the rock solid foundation yet again.
"They're just impossible to guard," forward Perry Stevenson said.
Now Barrett knows that too.
Perry Stevenson (#21) dunks with authority