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About Last Night - Auburn 76, Kentucky 66

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The Tigers take a huge step forward in the run for a conference championship.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn beat Kentucky last night, in case you didn’t hear. Despite beginning the game 1-16 from the floor, and falling behind by multiple possessions in the closing minutes, the Tigers held strong and upended the Wildcats at Auburn Arena. Scope the highlights.

First of all, Bryce Brown came back from his shoulder injury and poured in a brace-assisted 18 points to match Jared Harper’s 18 points. But it was Anfernee McLemore’s double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) that paced Auburn and triggered the spark for the Tigers late in the game.

McLemore pulled Auburn within one on an alley-oop, then after a Bryce Brown three for the lead, McLemore went to work again and brought the house down.

Most importantly, and not unexpectedly at all, the atmosphere at Auburn Arena was lit, as the kids say.

The White Out was a big success, and the crowd was great all throughout, even with the slow start. Auburn once again fell behind, made the comeback, held off the rally, and took care of business down the stretch. I can’t count how many tweets I saw in the final two minutes once the win was inevitable imploring the Jungle not to rush the court for a victory over an unranked team. The team shook hands, celebrated with the students a bit, and turned the attention to Saturday and South Carolina.

For Kentucky, their postseason hopes took a bit of a hit with the fourth consecutive loss, but John Calipari turned to... a moral victory??

I like to think that Auburn was given the strength to persevere in the second half thanks to the intermission performance. Just watch.

That’s just... so good.

With the win, Auburn improved to 11-2 in the SEC with five games left to play. They still hold a two-game lead over Tennessee (three if you count the tiebreaker), and a real-life three game lead over Alabama, Missouri, and now Florida, who lost to Georgia last night.

It stands this way right now:

Auburn 11-2

Tennessee 9-4

Florida 8-5

Alabama 8-5

Missouri 8-5

With five games left, if Auburn can get to 13-5, you have to feel pretty good about their chances to win the regular season title. At 13-5, the only way to lose is if one of Tennessee, Florida, or Alabama wins out. The Volunteers need to finish a full game ahead of Auburn to take the top seed in St. Louis. Florida needs to beat Auburn and match the Tigers win total, as does Alabama.

Check it out, though. Tennessee and Florida play each other next Wednesday, which eliminates one of those teams’ chance to win out. If Tennessee wins that one, Florida shouldn’t be able to catch the Tigers, no matter what happens when the two meet.

The rogue element here is Alabama. The Tide are playing really well right now, and are a team that nobody wants to face because they can run you out of the building. Of course, they can also lose to Vanderbilt. They’re frustratingly inconsistent, but the schedule gets really difficult for them over the next two weeks. They go @ Kentucky, @ Auburn, vs Arkansas, vs Florida, @ Texas A&M. They have to win out to realistically have a shot, and if they do, they’d deserve a top two seed in the conference tournament.

Either way you cut it, the teams that have the best chance to catch Auburn have games left against each other, while Auburn’s schedule features a couple of seemingly easy games. Not to put Frank Martin down, but Auburn should sweep South Carolina to get to 13 wins, and if they can pull off a victory vs Alabama, @ Florida, or @ Arkansas, the title is theirs. Get to 14 victories, and nobody can catch you.

Auburn’s in as good a position as can be right now, but there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played. War Eagle!