#2 Auburn holds off #12 UK 80-71

Walker Kessler scored 19 points and K.D. Johnson added 17, helping No. 2 Auburn keep its hot...
Walker Kessler scored 19 points and K.D. Johnson added 17, helping No. 2 Auburn keep its hot streak alive with an 80-71 victory over No. 12 Kentucky.(Source: Hailey Sutton/WSFA 12 News)
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 4:37 PM EST
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(WAVE) - #2 Auburn outscored #12 Kentucky 51-38 in the second half as the Tigers handed the Cats an 80-71 loss on Saturday afternoon in Auburn Arena.

Kentucky jumped out to a 17-7 lead after going on a 13-0 run early in the first half. Sahvir Wheeler scored six straight during that run.

The Cats led 25-16 when TyTy Washington connected in the paint. On that play, Washington twisted his left ankle when he came down the foot of Oscar Tshiebwe. Washington did not return.

Auburn closed to within 33-29 at the half.

The Tigers took the lead for good when Wendell Green Jr. hit back-to-back three-pointers. The second put the Tigers in front 51-47.

That lead ballooned to 12 on three free throws by KD Johnson with 6:07 left.

Kentucky made another run, drawing within 68-64 on a Kellen Grady three from the corner with 3:19 remaining, but the Tigers continued to answer.

Talented freshman Jabari Smith, the projected #1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, hit a contested jumper for a 70-64 Tigers lead with 2:27 left. When Smith drove and dished to Walker Kessler for a slam, it was 74-66 with just 1:30 left.

Kessler led all scorers with 19 points. K.D. Johnson had 17. Smith totalled 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Wheeler and Grady led UK with 17 points each. Tshiebwe finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Auburn improves to 18-1, 7-0 in the SEC. The Tigers may well jump Gonzaga into the #1 spot in the AP poll this week. Kentucky falls to 15-4, 5-2.

The Cats host Mississippi State (12-5, 3-2) on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. in Rupp Arena.

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