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Auburn at Kentucky Game Preview and Open Thread

Time to Make History!

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday February 13, 2021

Auburn Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats

Rupp Arena: Lexington, Kentucky

Time: 12PM

Network: CBS, Auburn Radio Network

January 9th, 1988

On that day, the Tigers shocked #1 Kentucky 53-52 thanks to a 3-pointer from John Caylor in the closing seconds. It is the last time they have won in Lexington and just 1 of 2 all-time wins against Kentucky in Lexington.

As shocking as losing to 10 in a row at Vanderbilt was for some (before winning the last 2 games there), Auburn has lost 18 straight games at Rupp Arena.

But things have been different over the course of the last 5 years. It began with a court storming win over Kentucky back during the 2015-2016 season and in the teams last 9 meetings, Auburn leads the series 5-4. Auburn talks a lot about making history and, yes this has been a historically bad season for Kentucky, but a win in Lexington today would be historical for so many reasons.

Auburn (11-10, 5-7) defeated Kentucky (5-13, 4-7) back on January 16th, 66-59 behind 21 points and 9 rebounds from Allen Flanigan. Devan Cambridge was huge off the bench scoring 13 points. They will have to do better than shoot 5-24 from 3 if they want to win this game though.

Kentucky comes into today coming off of their best 3-point shooting game in quite some time as the Cats were 14-26 from 3 in a 1-point loss to Arkansas on Tuesday night. Despite the 5-13 record, the Cats have been the victim of losing several close games late this season.

Davion Mintz led the way in the last matchup for Kentucky with 11 points. The grad student from Creighton is averaging 9.9 PPG this year and is 33% from 3-point range this season. The only other player in double figures in the last matchup was Jacob Toppin who tied his season high with 10 points down on the Plains last month. He also had 6 rebounds last month and is coming off a 9 point, 6 rebound game against Arkansas on Tuesday.

Brandon Boston is Kentucky’s leading scorer at 11.9 PPG but was held to 5 points and 5 rebounds at Auburn. He made 4-5 3s against Arkansas Tuesday and his scoring has gotten more consistent over the last few games.

Keion Brooks is the Cats 2nd leading scorer at 11.6 PPG since coming back around the start of SEC play. Brooks is 2nd on the team averaging 6.1 RPG as well and had 23 points and 11 rebounds last Saturday against Tennessee.

Joining Brooks in the frontcourt will be Olivier Sarr. Sarr, the Wake Forest transfer is averaging 10.6 PPG and 5.8 RPG this season.

As for Auburn, the Tigers hope to get another big game from Jamal Johnson who came off the bench to spark Auburn after an ice cold start Tuesday night at Vanderbilt. Johnson had 19 points and knocked down 5 3-pointers which the Tigers will need to do today to get the win.

Sharife Cooper was held to 11 points in the first meeting against Kentucky, the lowest of his 10 games so far. He was 3-14 from the field on that day but has scored 15 or more in each of the last 7 games. Cooper had just 1 point at halftime Tuesday before scoring 18 of his 19 points in the 2nd half at Vanderbilt. As great as his 2nd half was, the most significant statistic was that for the first time in his career, he had no turnovers in the game against Vanderbilt.

Prediction

Auburn hasn’t won at Rupp Arena in 33 years and have never swept Kentucky in a season before. They can rewrite the record books today with a win.

Auburn came pretty close last season to ending the streak falling short in a 6-point loss as Kentucky clinched last year’s SEC Regular Season title. Kentucky played well for the most part on Tuesday and I’m afraid they might be able to build off of it as they look to break a 4-game losing streak.

Kentucky 73 Auburn 66