Cats eke out win at Auburn, extend streak to four games

UK extended its winning streak to a season-long four games, defeating the Auburn Tigers 66-63 last night at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum in Auburn, Ala.

The Cats (11-9, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) shot 66.7 percent from the field to eke by the Tigers despite playing without senior guard Ramel Bradley and sophomore guard Jodie Meeks.

Though they shot the ball well, turnovers kept the Cats from putting Auburn away.

UK came out of the gate hot, making 13-of-19 field goals in the first half but had 11 turnovers, and an Auburn 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer tied the game at 34.

The Cats came out on fire again in the second half. UK made 8-of-10 shots to start the second frame, pushing its lead to 46-37 with 16 minutes to play. But the undermanned Tigers, playing without post players Josh Dollard, Boubacar Sylla and Korvotney Barber, who are all out with injuries, still didn’t go away. The Tiger’s comeback was aided yet again by UK turnovers.

Auburn pulled within 64-61 with 29.5 seconds left, and another UK turnover allowed a lay-in to cut it to 64-63. Sophomore forward Ramon Harris sunk a free throw to give the Cats a 65-63 lead, and sophomore guard DeWayne Reed missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds to play. A Patrick Patterson free throw provided the final points, sealing the win for the Cats.

Overall, UK turned it over 24 times, but hot shooting from the freshman forward Patterson and senior guard Joe Crawford helped the Cats pull out the win. Crawford made 8-of-12 shots to lead UK with 20 points, and Patterson added 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Patterson, who also led the Cats with 8 rebounds, fueled the UK offense early, making 6-of-7 first-half shots. UK’s front court dominated an under-sized Auburn team all night, as sophomore forward Perry Stevenson added 10 points.

The four-game win streak — including UK’s first two road wins of the year — has put the Cats in prime position in the SEC with the halfway point of the conference schedule in sight. With Florida’s loss at Tennessee Tuesday and UK’s win last night, the Cats are now alone in second place in the SEC Eastern Division.