For the first time since the 1989-1990 seasons, Auburn has won back-to-back games against Kentucky at home.
Auburn (23-3, 11-2) finished off Kentucky (17-9, 6-7) with a 20-7 scoring run that helped the Tigers take a 76-66 win. The win helps the Tigers maintain a 2-game advantage at the top of the Southeastern Conference.
Bryce Brown sealed the deal with a 3-pointer with 1:43 to go, which put Auburn up seven points. He showed little hesitation despite not being 100 percent, finishing with a game-high 18 points.
Credit also to Anfernee McElmore and Desean Murray. The Wildcats were by far the bigger team, but McElmore and Murray each had double-digit rebounds to help Auburn’s cause.
Auburn might have won the game, but it was far from the Tigers’ best shooting night. The Tigers shot 36 percent from the floor, though they finished strong. They relied a great deal on their defensive prowess, which forced 14 Kentucky turnovers.
10:49 p.m. Auburn leads Kentucky 66-61 with 3:57 left in the second half. The Tigers continue to impress down the line, having hit seven of their last nine shots. Meanwhile, Kentucky can't get out of its own way, and the Wildcats are now up to 14 turnovers tonight. Auburn hasn't had its best night shooting, but the Tigers will be missing out if they manage to lose this one.
10:39 p.m. Kentucky leads Auburn 57-53 with 7:52 left in second half. The fact Auburn is shooting 32 percent from the field seems to have finally hit them hard. The Wildcats seem to have found an answer to a disappointing first half that was full of turnovers. Auburn's defense has ran out of answers, and the Tigers' offense has had a few too many missed chances in the last few minutes. There's plenty of game left, but Auburn is certainly in a vulnerable position.
10:25 p.m. Kentucky leads Auburn 49-48 with 13:00 left in second half. The Wildcats have grabbed their first lead since midway through the opening half. Part of Auburn's problem now offensively has been another slow start from behind the arc. Auburn is now 0-for-4 on 3-pointers. Kentucky, meanwhile, is in the midst of a 7-0 run.
10:20 p.m. Auburn leads Kentucky 48-44 with 15:40 left in second half. The Tigers continue to maintain control despite the total disparity in size. That was never clearer than on Auburn's last three points, when 5-foot-10 Jared Harper drove to the basketball against a Kentucky team that all has at least half-a-foot size advantage. Harper hit the layup, drew the foul and connected on a free throw.
9:52 p.m. Auburn leads Kentucky at halftime 39-33. This showdown was a slow one to start, but both teams really kicked it up a notch to close out the half. Auburn shook off a dreadful opening to the game by going 9-of-17 from the field to close out the half.
The story of the first half -- aside from both team's sorry opening minutes -- was Auburn making the most of Kentucky's mistakes. The Tigers' defense have made the Wildcats pay, which is evident from Kentucky's eight turnovers and Auburn's five steals.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said as much in his halftime interview with ESPN's Laura Rutledge.
"Turnovers. Loose balls," Calipari said when asked to describe the first half. "They get three loose balls. We were right there and could have grabbed them. They hit 3-pointers on all three."
Pay attention to Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt in the second half. The ESPN television crew has pointed out repeatedly how Vanderbilt has struggled to defend his man in 3-point range, with those comments being followed by a 3-pointer more than once. Auburn's lead is only six points, but if the Wildcats keep giving the Tigers more open looks from deep, it will be hard for the road team to cut into that lead.
9:45 p.m. Auburn leads Kentucky 32-25 with 2:48 left in 2H. The Tigers seem to be in a rhythm in their 3-point shooting, an aspect of their game that's been huge all season. After an 0-for-9 start, Auburn has hit five of its last 7 3-point attempts. None were quite as impressive as Bryce Brown's first of the game, on which he pulled off a nice stepback and showed Kentucky he may be hurting but he is still ready to play.
9:23 p.m. Kentucky leads Auburn 10-6, 11:25 left in 1H. Auburn's shooting has been woeful in the first half, made apparent by its 0-for-9 mark from 3-point range and its 1-for-16 shooting from the field. To the Tigers' benefit, the Wildcats have started slow as well. UK has had eight turnovers thus far.
9:12 p.m. Kentucky leads Auburn 5-4, 15:47 left in first half. The Tigers have been cold from the floor to start this one, going 1-for-8 from the field to start. To the Tigers' credit, they've done a good job grabbing rebounds early against a Kentucky team that has the size advantage. Kentucky has a slim 8-6 advantage in that category.
Wednesday’s men’s basketball showdown between Auburn and Kentucky will be a bit of a role reversal for the two squads.
The Tigers enter the game ranked No. 10 in the country and have won six of their last seven games. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are riding a three-game losing streak. Auburn is first in the SEC; Kentucky is sixth.
We’ll live blog tonight’s showdown, which will be another chance for Auburn to prove itself on a big stage. Before the game begins, here are some important things to know.
Where to watch: ESPN2, 9 p.m. EST
TV crew: Adam Amin, P.J. Carlesimo, Dan Dakich, Laura Rutledge
Last five meetings: Kentucky has won four of the last five matchups with Auburn, with the Tigers’ lone win coming in January 2016. In that game, Auburn topped Kentucky 75-70, marking what was then Bruce Pearl’s biggest win of his Auburn tenure. This year’s matchup will be something entirely new, as Auburn is the favorite.
Auburn leading scorer Bryce Brown (shoulder) sat out the Tigers’ win over Georgia Saturday, but the outlook for Brown looks positive for tonight’s game. He returned to practice with the team earlier this week and is considered likely to play. Brown enters Wednesday’s game averaging a team-high 16.6 points per game.
The NCAA selection committee revealed its top 16 teams Sunday, and the Tigers were sitting pretty as a No. 2 seed slated in the Midwest Region. For context, the four No. 1 seeds were Virginia, Villanova, Purdue and Xavier, with Auburn sharing No. 2 seed status with Cincinnati, Duke and Kansas. The Tigers have impressed so far, and while a win over Kentucky would help their case for a No. 1 seed, they’ll be in a great situation either way.
Kentucky is riding a three-game losing streak into Wednesday’s showdown. How long has it been since that happened? Well, John Calipari had never experienced one in his previous eight seasons as Wildcats head coach. The last three-game losing streak for Kentucky came in March 2009, when Kentucky ultimately lost four games in a row to end the regular season.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports