Kentucky set to face Auburn for second time this season


Freshman guard Keldon Johnson being introduced before the start of the game. No.5 UK men’s basketball team defeated No.1 Tennessee 86-69 at Rupp Arena on Feb. 16, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Fresh off a win at Missouri, No. 4 Kentucky men’s basketball returns to Rupp Arena to face off with the Auburn Tigers. The two teams met earlier this season in Auburn, where the then-No.12 Cats pulled out a thrilling 82-80 victory. The Tigers were ranked 14that the time. 

While Kentucky used the win to keep momentum and catapult up the rankings in the coming weeks, Auburn has experienced the opposite. The team is just 5-4 since playing Kentucky the first time, and has fallen out of the AP Top-25 and a spot for a double-bye in the SEC Tournament. 

The Tigers seem to be figuring it out again heading into this weekend though, taking care of business on the road at Vanderbilt 64-53 and versus Arkansas 79-56. They sit at 7-6 in SEC play, tied for 6thin the conference with Mississippi State, with just five games left to improve their standing. 

For that to happen, Auburn will have to do something it has yet to do this season: beat a team in front of them in conference play. The Tigers are 0-6 against the teams they find themselves staring up at, with three of their final five opponents, including Kentucky, meeting that measure. 

Slotted as a No. 8 seed in the latest version of ESPN’s Bracketology, Auburn isn’t exactly in danger of losing their tournament bid at the moment. But a loss down the stretch against Georgia or in-state rival and bubble team Alabama would be damaging, knocking them into firm bubble territory. A chance to play a top-five team on the road is an opportunity other teams in the Tigers’ position do not get often, and one they can not afford to squander. 

What’s on the line for Kentucky? Another quality win, a move up in the AP Top 25, and a first-place tie with Tennessee and LSU pending the result of their game in Baton Rouge Saturday afternoon. 

You can watch Auburn and Kentucky battle it out in Rupp Arena on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on CBS.