If you had told me that Auburn - without Purifoy - would go into Rupp Arena and make the game fun even late into the second half, I wouldn't have believed it.
That's what happened, though, as Auburn at various points had the game within 4 or 6 points in the 2nd half and were scrapping hard. A complete failure at free throw shooting when the Tigers were lucky enough to get to the line and the unbelievably good nature of this Kentucky team were enough to doom the Tigers, though.
Auburn had a number of players in foul trouble by the end and for the second game in a row, Austin Wiley had four fouls just minutes into the second half. He fouled out with just over five minutes to play.
I said in the preview that Auburn needed someone like TJ Dunans to step up to have a chance. Dunans stepped up in a huge way. He set a career high for points and if he can drive the lane going forward like he did this afternoon, then Auburn's offensive abilities could expand greatly when everyone is back on the court and healthy again.
Early in the first half, the Tigers were running strong with the Wildcats, but Kentucky got hot in a hurry and opened up a double-digit lead. Auburn could have folded right then since they were in Rupp Arena with a very hostile crowd, but they didn't. They kept fighting and cut the deficit every time Kentucky looked to be pulling away.
The depth and talent of Kentucky was too much for Auburn in the end, though, as the Wildcats went from a two-possession lead to a twenty point lead with just over a minute to play. With the game well in hand, the Wildcats were content to just run the clock down.
With everyone healthy and playing with this effort, this team could be very good by the end of the season. Will it happen in time to matter this season? I don't know. But the game today shows they can be much better than the 1-4 start to SEC play seems to indicate.
Have to make free throws! Auburn finished 5 of 15 from the charity stripe. That's beyond horrendous.
TJ Dunans needs to play like this every game. If he can do that, then Auburn's offense opens up a lot. When he's on his game and driving the basket as he was tonight, he can be a lot of fun.
The Tigers' next game is Wednesday evening at 7:30pm Central. They return home to face LSU before taking on Alabama next Saturday.