Riding the momentum of hosting College Gameday for the first time in program history, Auburn basketball proved to be worthy of national attention, as they defeated Kentucky 75-66 in front of a white-out Auburn Arena crowd Saturday night.
"I think we took a step from good to very good, now we need to build on it," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said.
The Tigers, notorious for starting off games in a slow manner, were able to keep themselves in the game in the first half despite shooting poorly from the field. At one point, Auburn was shooting 30 percent from the field and just under 17 percent from three-point range. Samir Doughty was aggressive getting inside the paint early on, and at one point he accounted for more than half of the Tigers first twenty points scored.
Back and forth scoring ensued for both teams, and the Wildcats took a 35-34 lead into halftime.
Coming out of the half, Auburn continued to attack the paint and were relentless on the glass, as they eventually out-rebounded Kentucky 42-28 in the game.
Offensively, rhythm picked up for the Tigers, who were able to get to the free throw line 44 times in the game, and that attack caused Kentucky starting guards Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley to foul out.
Auburn freshman Issac Okoro hit a couple of huge three pointers to increase the Auburn lead during the later stages of the second half, and he too exploited the weak interior Wildcat defense by getting to the free throw line as well.
Doughty lead Auburn in scoring with 23 points, which included 14-15 from the free throw line. Okoro ended up with 14 points, and Austin Wiley added a double-double by scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Kentucky was led by Quickley, who scored 23 points, and Tyrese Maxey, who added 22 points.
Next up for Auburn (19-2, 6-2 in SEC) is a trip to Little Rock, where they will face Arkansas Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, and the game can be seen on SEC Network.