UK defeats Auburn in SEC quarterfinal


Junior Victoria Dunlap takes a shot in the first half of UK’s game against Georgia at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday evening. Photo by William Baldon

UK (24-6, 11-5 Southeastern Conference) snapped its two-game losing streak with a 65-54 win against the Auburn Tigers (15-16, 5-11 SEC) in its opening game of the SEC Tournament.

The 10th-seeded Tigers entered Friday’s quarterfinal following their opening round victory over Florida, and upset UK on the final weekend of the regular season.

However, UK got back to the fundamentals of its game plans, forcing the Tigers into 20 turnovers, although Mitchell said that his team lost focus in their half-court defense on occasion.

But UK’s defense did prevent Auburn’s junior guard Alli Smalley from finding a rhythm, limiting her to 11 points on 1-of-6 shooting beyond the arc. In the Cats’ last meeting with Auburn, Smalley exploded for 26 points.

Meanwhile, SEC Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap led UK in scoring with 24 points, and SEC Freshman of the Year A’dia Mathies chipped in with 15 points of her own. Senior forward Lydia Watkins came off the bench and led the team with eight rebounds.

Down 19-16 with 8: 35 remaining in the first half, UK used a 10-0 run to take the lead, and it wouldn’t surrender the lead for the rest of the game.

UK will meet the winner of the Georgia/Mississippi State game in their semifinal contest to be played on Saturday.