Kentucky snapped their four-game losing streak this afternoon in Rupp Arena as they defeated Auburn 82-80 to make their record 6-13 on the season.
Once the Cats took a 72-60 lead with 5:56 to go, they looked to have the game all but wrapped up before Auburn proceeded to go on a 17-5 run and tie it up at 77-77 with 46 seconds to go. UK transfer guard Davion Mintz then nailed a three-pointer with 33 seconds to go which gave Kentucky the lead back at 80-77.
“That’s a big play for the team, and that’s a big play for Davion (Mintz),” UK Head Coach John Calipari said after the game.
Then freshman forward Isaiah Jackson blocked a shot from Auburn freshman Sharife Cooper and transfer Jacob Toppin sealed the deal with two made free throws to put the game out of reach. Along with the biggest block of the game, Isaiah Jackson had an immense impact as he finished with 18 points on 5/8 shooting from the floor (8/11 from the FT line) and 11 rebounds.
His fellow freshman starter BJ Boston also had a really good performance, as he totaled 17 points on 5/12 shooting from the floor (5/8 from three). Boston has become more consistent on the floor, and taken away a lot of the “flip shots” he took earlier in the season.
“All the stuff you saw early on, which was like an AAU game, you’re not seeing it now,” Calipari said. “He’s playing for his teammates.”
Overall, Kentucky shot 11/24 from the three-point line, building off a hot shooting night in their home loss against Arkansas. What might have given them the biggest advantage, however, is their fight and toughness on the defensive end. They had 10 combined blocked shots, eight steals and forced 19 turnovers. Even through the bitter losses, UK continues to battle.
“They haven’t given up one bit, and neither has our staff,” Calipari said.
The Cats will look to continue gaining momentum at Vanderbilt on Wednesday.