Kentucky claims 80-53 win over Auburn


Kentucky sophomore forward PJ Washington celebrates during the game against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

The Kentucky Wildcats had no trouble handling the Auburn Tigers as they faced them for the second time this season—this time, without the post-play of grad student Reid Travis and the addition of EJ Montgomery in the starting lineup. The Cats left Rupp Arena with an 80-53 victory, improving their record to 23-4 and 12-2 in the SEC.

National Player of the Week PJ Washington started an early trend that would go on to be the Cats’ mojo against the Tigers—three-point shooting. After Auburn got things going with an early jumper, Washington was the first on the board for Kentucky with a three-pointer. A minute later, he hit another three to go up 6-4 over Auburn. The sophomore had 11 of Kentucky’s first 13 points, hitting three of his shots from behind the arc. By halftime, Washington had tallied 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal. 

The Wildcats led by as many as 19 in the first half, due mostly to their highly efficient three-point shooting. In total, they hit nine threes (9-of-17), four coming from Washington, one from Ashton Hagans, three from Tyler Herro and one from Immanuel Quickley. Auburn made four from deep, going 4-of-13. Kentucky spotted a 45-31 lead at the half. 

An 11-0 run over a four-minute span to start out the second half made Kentucky’s win margin continue to climb, reaching a lead of 25 before Auburn would score again. The Cats’ largest lead was 33 at the 10:55 mark when a Hagans fast-break layup extended the margin. Hagans finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. 

Kentucky’s lead wouldn’t drop below 25 points the entire second half as the Cats went 13-of-27 from the field and 2-of-7 from three. Washington, Herro and Hagans all scored in double-figures, combining for 55 points, while freshman Keldon Johnson led the boards with 17 rebounds. Johnson recorded career highs in both rebounds and assists, finishing with 17 and five, respectively. 

Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 26th against Arkansas in their next-to-last home game. Tip-off will be at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.