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No. 22 Kentucky looks to spoil No. 13 Auburn’s perfect home record

No. 13 Auburn looks to maintain its perfect home record when it entertains No. 22 Kentucky Saturday in Southeastern Conference play.



The Tigers are 13-0 at Neville Arena and are the lone SEC team without a home setback.

Auburn (20-5, 9-3 SEC) is tied for second place in the SEC with South Carolina and sits a half-game behind first-place Alabama.


Kentucky (17-7, 7-4) is tied for fifth with Florida after going 3-4 over its past seven games.

Auburn has won four of its past five games and the Tigers should find a festive atmosphere with the Wildcats in town.


“We talk about trying to make history, and this team is trying to make history,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said. “There’s no better opportunity than having Kentucky, national television, ‘College GameDay.’ It will be a great weekend. We work all year long for these opportunities.”


Auburn rolled to a 101-61 victory over then-No. 11 South Carolina on Wednesday in what is the largest winning margin over a ranked foe in program history.Jaylin Williams scored 23 points and Johni Broome added 21 for the Tigers. Williams was 5-of-7 from 3-point range while Broome made 4 of 5.


“They were giving us a little bit of space so it’s that point where you shoot it or pass it,” Broome said. “But once we see that first one go in, we’ve got that confidence.”


Pearl said he didn’t have to coach much, thanks to Williams and Broome being on the mark so often.


“When you get nine 3-balls from your starting frontcourt, it kind of makes everything you try to do offensively work,” Pearl said. “That makes you hard to guard.”


Overall, the Tigers were 12-of-20 from 3-point range while South Carolina made just 3 of 15.


Broome leads Auburn in scoring (16.2 points per game), rebounding (8.4) and blocked shots (2.4). Williams is second on the squad in scoring (13.4) and rebounding (4.9).


Kentucky has been going through an uneven stretch but is hoping its 75-63 home win over Ole Miss on Tuesday will be the start of a hot stretch.


The Wildcats received a stellar defensive effort by Ugonna Onyenso, who blocked 10 shots, two shy of the school record held by Nerlens Noel in 2013.Onyenso became the second player to swat away 10 shots inside Rupp Arena. The other is Basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson, who did so for Navy on Jan. 25, 1987.


“It’s amazing,” Onyenso said. “The part that I take blocking shots, I’m happy that I did that. Hopefully, I will break it again.”


Onyesno has blocked 48 shots in 15 games this season.


Antonio Reeves had a team-high 15 points as his club-best scoring average dropped to 19.4. Reed Sheppard scored 13 points and matched his personal-best of five steals.


Sheppard said the much-needed victory could propel the Wildcats to a strong late-season run.


“The win was big,” Sheppard said. “It was big that we were all having fun out there, all getting physical, and all playing as a team.


“We never lost confidence in each other or in the team when we lost. We knew we had to keep getting better and keep fighting. We had a great couple days of practices and everyone’s mindset was also great coming into this game.”


Kentucky forward Tre Mitchell (back) returned from a two-game absence but departed early in the second half with a shoulder injury. It isn’t yet known whether he can play Saturday.


Auburn has won four of the past seven meetings, but the Wildcats crushed the Tigers 86-54 last season in Lexington, Ky.



–Field Level Media

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