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Tigers Fall To Kentucky in Inspired Performance

For 30 minutes last night it looked like Tony Barbee's Auburn team might be on the verge of defeating his mentor John Calipari. With less than 11 minutes left in the game, Auburn led No. 2 Kentucky 47-45 before a sellout crowd in the Tigers SEC home opener.

Auburn (10-6) pushed the Wildcats to the brink in a back and forth game. There were 12 lead changes and eight ties. However, after Auburn had taken the lead with 10:52, the Tigers only made two field goals in the final 10 minutes.

Kentucky (16-1) came right back to tie the game and Auburn held the Cats scoreless for the next six minutes. But the Tigers' offense waned, making only two shots in the last 10 minutes while Kentucky hit two 3-pointers with a little over three minutes left, to take a 57-49 lead and start pulling ahead in the final moments.

It was an inspired Auburn performance that didn't look anything like the team that was trounced 65 - 35 by Vanderbilt last Saturday in Nashville. Maybe the Vandy embarrassment was a wake up call or maybe Tony Barbee is finally getting through to this bunch.

Chris Denson had 12 points for Auburn and Rob Chubb led the Tiger scoring with14 points and eight rebounds. Auburn actually out-rebounded Kentucky 35-29 and at one point, had a 32-16 edge in the second half.

Barbee was pleased with the difference in play. He said, "I think we figured some things out tonight. The guys fought their tails off... We have to take this and expound on it. I found a style that I think is going to work for this team. It is very similar to last year. It is to shorten the games and grind it out."

But he added, " We are still working on finding those catalysts, who when it is time to make those plays in the last five minutes in the game that we make them ... We have to go to that next level."

Even though the Tigers out hustled and outfought the Wildcats for most of the game, it was still a loss. But maybe now the Tigers can build on this performance and be a factor in SEC play. They showed last night that it's definitely possible. All they have to do is play every game like their opponent is Kentucky.