By Ricky Blair – “This Kentucky team does not have any weaknesses”, said Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl. “They are the best team I have ever coached against in my career” Pearl went on to say.
When you are playing your fourth game in four days and you are already undermanned as Auburn was on Saturday, it must seem like a nightmare. For Pearl and his Auburn Tigers, it was the impossible task. Auburn did take a two-point lead to start the game, but Kentucky went on a 15-2 run and never looked back as they breezed to a 91-67 win.
Junior Forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who had 18 points and 7 rebounds on the day, led the Wildcats to victory. And Cauley- Stein was not the only one in on the show. The Wildcats had four other players reach double figures in scoring. Sophomore point-guard Andrew Harrison had 15 points and 4 assists, while Trey Lyles, Aaron Harrison and Tyler Ulis each contributed 12 points apiece. Ulis was extra special with 4 of his 5 rebounds and 5 of his 6 assists coming in the first half alone, as the Wildcats coasted into the locker room with an eighteen-point lead at 47-29.
As usual, it was the defense that led the way for Kentucky. Coach John Calipari said, “We wanted to treat this game like it was a NCAA game and the other team had someone capable of going for 40”. So Coach Calipari chose to put seven-footer Cauley-Stein on Auburn’s star player six-foot-four guard KT Harrell. Stein did his job as Harrell went 1-12 from the field on the game and was 0-6 from beyond the three-point line. Cauley-Stein also had 3 blocks on the game. “This is what Willie looks like at his best”, said Calipari.
The Wildcats now move on to the SEC tournament championship game for the second straight year and for the 38th time overall. The Wildcats are now 33-0 on the season, which breaks both the school and SEC records for consecutive wins. Kentucky held that record previously with a 32-game winning streak that ran between the 1953-54 and 1954-55 seasons.
Kentucky will play the second seeded Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday at 1:00 PM EST for the SEC tournament title.