LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson did it
Meeks scored 32 points and Patterson added 21 points and a
career-high 18 rebounds to lead sloppy Kentucky to a 73-64 victory
over Auburn on Wednesday night.
The stars combined for 10 points during a decisive 12-0 run late
in the second half as the Wildcats (15-4, 4-0 Southeastern
Conference) overcame 22 turnovers to beat the Tigers (11-7, 1-3)
for the 10th straight time.
Perry Stevenson had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Kentucky,
which moved into first-place in the SEC after No. 24 Florida and
Mississippi State both lost earlier in the day.
DeWayne Reed led Auburn with 22 points and Rasheem Barrett added
a career-high 17 for the Tigers, who were outscored 26-2 at the
Patterson had been mired in a mini-slump since the Wildcats
began conference play. A minor injury to his right hand hasn't
helped. He played with his middle and ring fingers taped and
appeared to struggle early holding onto the ball.
Whatever was bothering him, Patterson got over it midway through
the second half with the Wildcats trailing 51-48. Stevenson got
game-turning run going with a dunk, then Patterson followed with a
nifty catch in the lane off a lob from Michael Porter, and hit a
little hook shot while getting fouled. He made the free throw, then
blocked Auburn's Korvotney Barber at the other end.
Meeks was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer, and made all three
free throws to put the Wildcats up 56-51. Meeks got free for a dunk
on Kentucky's next trip, and Patterson later added a short jumper
in the lane to push Kentucky's lead to 60-51 with 4:35 remaining.
The Tigers would get no closer than six the rest of the way.
Meeks, playing his first home game since pouring in a
school-record 54 points in a win over Tennessee last week, received
a rousing ovation while being introduced. He got the crowd on its
feet again moments later, hitting a 3-pointer one minute into the
game. Over the last two weeks, that's been enough to send the
Wildcats off to the races.
The Tigers, however, were hardly impressed.
Auburn hung around the entire first half, thanks in part to the
Kentucky gave it away 13 times in the first half and needed a
spectacular play by Patterson in the final seconds in the half to
lead 34-33 at the break. Patterson blocked a shot attempt by Reed
with 5 seconds left, then dribbled up the floor before hitting a
streaking Ramon Harris for a layup at the horn.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)