AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Patrick Patterson hit 3-of-4 free throws over the final 45 seconds and Kentucky shot a season-high 67 percent to hold on for a 66-63 win over Auburn on Wednesday night.
Patterson had 19 points and eight rebounds and Joe Crawford scored 20 for the short-handed Wildcats (11-9, 5-2 Southeastern Conference), who won their fourth consecutive league game despite a late scare.
The Tigers (12-9, 2-6) stayed alive with five quick points. Rasheem Barrett hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining and DeWayne Reed then had a steal and layup to make it 64-63.
Crawford saved the Wildcats from serious trouble with a long heave across midcourt to Michael Porter when Auburn nearly forced a 10-second violation.
The Tigers were forced to foul Ramon Harris, who made 1-of-2 free throws with 14 seconds to play. Reed then tried a long 3-pointer that missed badly, and Patterson grabbed the rebound. He made one of two free throws with 3 seconds left and Lucas Hargrove rebounded the miss and threw up a desperation shot from before midcourt that went wide right.
The result was the ninth straight win in the series for Kentucky, which has won 23 of the last 24 meetings. The Wildcats were without a pair of double-digit scorers. Ramel Bradley missed the game with a concussion sustained in the Georgia game last Saturday and Jodie Meeks remained out with a hip injury.
Patterson and Crawford fueled Kentucky's hot shooting performance. Patterson made 8-of-10 baskets. Crawford was 8-for-12 and made three 3-pointers for the short-handed Wildcats. Perry Stevenson scored 10 points before fouling out late.
Quan Prowell led Auburn with 20 points and nine rebounds. Rasheem Barrett had 12 points, Quantez Robertson 11 and Frank Tolbert 10.
The Tigers shot just 41 percent and made 5-of-18 3-pointers.
The Wildcats took advantage of a stretch when Auburn missed eight straight shots to build a 58-48 lead on Patterson's short jumper with 6:22 left.
The Tigers then started to force mistakes with an aggressive, trapping defense.
Tolbert got a steal and then hit two free throws with 2:06 to play to cut it to 62-57 and make it a tight game.
Tolbert stole the ball near midcourt and forced Stevenson to commit his fifth foul to prevent an easy layup
The Tigers had managed to overcome an eight-point deficit to head into halftime tied at 34-all. Hargrove tied it up with a 3-pointer from the right corner that just beat the buzzer to end the half. He couldn't repeat the desperation basket at the end.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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