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Until Saturday night, a UK team, coached by Coach Calipari had never lost three consecutive games, a record that UK fans and coaches have spoken about freely with pride. Well, that talk and pride has ended, and this team has joined the ranks of 16 other UK teams over the last 89 seasons who have experienced a losing streak of 3 games or more. The concern now shifts from preserving the aforementioned 2 game maximum losing streak, to watching this current 3 game losing streak grow to 4 games, and perhaps even more. Six UK teams over the same 89 years have lost 4 or more consecutive games. For the record, during this period one two teams have lost more than 4 in a row. In Sutton's last season, the 1989 team lost 5 in a row, and in Pitino's first season (on probabion), the 1990 team lost 6 in a row.
Wednesday night, the Cats will face a very good Auburn team in Auburn, Alabama. A loss to Auburn will put this team into that rare category of at least 4 losses in a row. This is not your usual Auburn basketball team. The Cats hold a 92-18 overall record over Auburn in a series that goes back to 1921. In games played at Auburn, the Cats hold a 30-14 advantage, and for games played in Alabama, but not on the Auburn campus, the Cats are 4-1. During the Calipari Era, the Cats hold a 9-1 advantage, including 4-1 at Auburn.
Auburn currently leads the SEC with a 10-2 conference record, and overall Auburn sports a 22-3 record. The three losses have been to #90 Temple by 14 points on a neutral court in the third game of the season. Then after winning 14 consecutive games, the Tigers fell at arch-rival #44 Alabama by 5. Finally, Auburn fell for a third time one week ago at home to #22 Texas A&M by 1 point. Auburn's most impressive wins have been by 10 at #11 Tennessee and at #31 Missouri by 18.
Auburn's 22-3, 10-2 record has produced an ANE of 0.235 ppp (#13) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.059 ppp (#55). The Cats' 17-8, 6-6 record has produced an ANE of 0.173 ppp (#38) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.099 ppp (#10). The ANE analysis gives the edge to Auburn by 10 points, 81-71, in a game played at a pace of 77 possessions. Pomeroy has the Auburn favored by 8, 84-76 with a pace of 73 possessions. Vegas opened today with Auburn a 8 1/2 point favorite.
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Coach Calipari will shake up his starting line up against Auburn, starting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, Wenyen Gabriel, and Hamidou Diallo. PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Quade Green represent the entire experienced bench tonight because Sacha Killeya-Jones is unavailable.
The Auburn controls the opening tip and misses their first 4 shots while the Cats make a 3 pointer around a pair of early turnovers for an early 3-0 lead. Auburn trims the lead to 1 with a pair of free throws. Each team makes one more basket in the opening segment and the Cats lead by 1, 5-4, at the under 16 media timeout, and have the ball. In the first 4 minutes, Auburn has 10 possessions to 9 for the Cats, a very fast early pace. Neither team is shooting the ball well. Auburn is 1-11 (9.1%) and the Cats are 2-6 (33.3%). After the Cats move on top by 3, 7-4, Hamidou Diallo commits his 2 nd foul with 13:47 remaining. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes a 3 point play following Auburn's first turnover of the game to give the Cats an early 6 point lead, 10-4. Auburn trims the lead to 4 with another pair of free throws, and then Quade Green has his pocket picked for the 8 th turnover by the Cats in the first 8 minutes, and following the turnover, Quade Green commits an intentional foul. At the under 12 media timeout, the lead stands at 4, 10-6, but after the timeout, Auburn will have another pair of free throws and will retain possession after the intentional foul free throws.
They make both free throws and then take their first lead on their first made 3 pointer of the game. After Nick Richards gets a put back basket to lift the Cats back into the lead, Auburn makes their second 3 pointer, and a layup off a Kentucky missed shot to move on top by 4 points, 16-12. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 9:57 remaining in the first half. The Cats stop the Auburn run out of the timeout, but at the under 8 media timeout, Auburn continues to hold the 4 point lead, 19-15, and after the timeout, PJ Washington will be on the line for free throws.
After opening the game 1-16, Auburn has made 3 of their last 4 shots, including a pair of 3 pointers. The Cats opened 4-9, but have made only 2 of their last 5 shots. Auburn has scored 9 points from the free throw line (9-10) as compared to only 2 points by the Cats (2-4), and the story of the first half has been the 8-1 deficit the Cats have in turnovers.
After PJ Washington makes 1 of 4, Auburn moves on top by 6 with a 3 pointer. In the extended 4 th segment, Auburn makes three 3 pointers in a row and extends their lead to 7, 32-25 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:48 left in the first half. After the break, PJ Washington will be at the line for a pair of free throws.
PJ Washington makes both free throws but Auburn answers with their 6 th 3 pointer of the game to extend their lead to 8 points, 35-27. The Cats trim a pair off the lead to trail by 6 at the half, 39-33.
The largest lead of the first half was 4 points by the Cats and 8 points by Auburn. There were no ties and 1 lead change.
The Cats scored 33 points on 36 possessions, 0.917 points per possession, and AUBURN managed their 39 points on 37 possessions, 1.055 ppp. The Cats made 46.4% (13-28) of their first half shots, including 2-7 from outside the arc. AUBURN managed to make 30.3% (10-33) of their first half shots, including 6-17 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 8 turnovers in the first half while AUBURN committed 1turnover.
The Cats made 5-8 from the line (62.5%) and AUBURN made 13-14 from the line (92.9%).
On the Boards, the Cats won the rebounding battle 22-16, but each team grabbed 3 offensive rebounds. Kentucky won the second chance points 6-0. The Cats secured 18.8% of their misses and allowed AUBURN to grab 13.6% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Kentucky opens the second half and trim the lead to 4 points 45-41 after a few minutes of play. At the under 16 media timeout, the lead is 5 points, 48-43, and Auburn will have the ball when play resumes. During the timeout, a basket by Kevin Knox that was scored a 2 pointer has been changed to a 3 pointer, reducing the Auburn lead to 4 points.
A 3 point play by Kevin Knox trims the Auburn lead to 1 point, 48-47, with 13:50 remaining in the game. Auburn missed its 4 consecutive 3 point attempt and Wenyen Gabriel makes a driving layup along the baseline to give the Cats their first lead, 49-48, since they led 10-8 early in the game. Auburn takes a timeout with 13:00 left in the game. After the timeout, Auburn commits a turnover with an offensive foul, but the Cats cannot add to their lead, and Auburn regains the lead on their next possession. The Cats regain the lead, 51-50, at the under 12 media timeout, but Auburn will have a pair of free throws after the break.
Auburn misses one of the free throws, and then ties the game for the first time, 51-51. Quade Green makes a 12 foot jump shot to give the Cats a 2 point lead. After another Auburn miss, Wenyen Gabriel makes a layup on a drive down the right side of the lane for a 4 point lead, 55-51. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats are clinging to a 4 point lead, 57-53, and will have the ball after the break. During the third segment, the Cats made 3-5 shots and committed 2 turnover, but Auburn was 1-2 from the field, 1-2 from the free throw line, and committed 3 turnovers. Hamidou Diallo misses a 3 pointer from the corner, and Auburn scores to trim the lead to 2 points. The Cats answer with a basket, but Auburn makes a 3 pointer, and a jump shot from the elbow following the Cats' 13 th turnover to regain the lead, 60-59 with 6:14 remaining, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout.
After the timeout, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has his shot blocked and Auburn makes them pay with a lob dunk at the other end. Then Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has another shot blocked and after Auburn misses from 3 point range, the Cats commit a rebounding foul, sending Auburn back to the line. At the under 4 media timeout, the Auburn lead had moved back to 5 points, 66-61, after the Cats had led 59-55, an Auburn run of 11-2.
Cats lose 76-66.
UK scored its 66 points on 70 possessions (0.943 ppp) for the game, and AUBURN scored its 76 points on 70 possessions (1.086 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-34, but Auburn controlled the offensive glass 9-7. Kentucky used its 7 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and AUBURN used its 9 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.771 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.714 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 21.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert 23.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK made 13-20 (65.0%) from the free throw line in this game. AUBURN made 24-28 [85.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-54 overall [46.3%] and 3-14 from long range [21.4%]. For Auburn, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 14-33 [42.4%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 8-27 [29.6%].
The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 7 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 10.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Alabama at Rupp for the 27 th game of the season and the 14 th SEC game of 2018
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks