- Wednesday, January 22 2003 -
Auburn - 51 (Head Coach: Cliff Ellis) - [Ranked 24th by AP]
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 8th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 29, Auburn 22
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Notre Dame 88 - 73|||||Alabama 63 - 46|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats silence Auburn, stay unbeaten in SEC
Auburn invaded Rupp Arena the talk of the Southeastern Conference, but the Tigers left the latest victim of Kentucky's new defensive juggernaut.
UK (14-3, 4-0 SEC) held its fourth straight opponent under 40 percent shooting, taming the Tigers 67-51 in a battle of SEC unbeatens.
"They were the talk of the SEC," senior Keith Bogans said of Auburn. "But talk is cheap."
Even so, UK struggled early, falling behind the Tigers before rebounding to claim a 29-22 halftime lead. The Tigers then reclaimed the lead 38-37 with 12:21 left, but Gerald Fitch keyed a 20-3 UK run, giving UK a 57-41 lead with 5:58 remaining.
Fitch, who scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half, scored eight straight points during the spurt, while Auburn (15-3, 4-1) got off just two shots during a nearly six-minute span.
"When (Fitch) is hot, he can make shots in a hurry," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "When he has a hot hand, we are going back to him over and over again."
While Fitch was making shots, Auburn was turning the ball over to the tune of 26 for the game, a season high for the Tigers. The Tigers made just 16-of-42 field goals for the game, including 2-of-14 from three-point range.
"The defensive stops were the big key," Smith said. "They killed us on the boards, but late in the game, we did a good job of limiting their chances."
Several of the Cats said they finally understand what defense can do for them this season.
"The defense was excellent," Bogans said. "When we pressure guys, it makes the game a whole lot easier."
For Auburn, it was a harsh dose of reality after jumping to a 4-0 start in the league.
"Fitch made some big shots and we turned the ball over, that's the storyline," Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do.
"That's a very good Kentucky team. They win games ugly, but they are good at it."
Auburn's Derrick Bird smothers the ball ahead of Keith Bogans