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Liveblog: No. 4 Kentucky 80, Auburn 53

Photo slideshow: No. 4 Kentucky routs Auburn 80-53

The No. 4 Kentucky men's basketball team defeated Auburn 80-53 Saturday at Rupp Arena.
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The No. 4 Kentucky men's basketball team defeated Auburn 80-53 Saturday at Rupp Arena.

No Reid Travis. No problem? We shall see, starting Saturday when the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the Auburn Tigers to Rupp Arena for a key SEC college basketball game. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. CBS has the television coverage.

We will be live above Cawood’s Court with score updates, news and analysis. Follow us on Twitter at @johnclayiv, @jerrytipton, @benrobertshl, @markcstory, @alexslitzphoto and @kentuckysports. Scroll down for dedicated Twitter list.

Final: Kentucky 80, Auburn 53

UK improves to 12-2 in the SEC and pulls into a three-way tie for first place with Tennessee and LSU. PJ Washington lead the way with 24 points. Keldon Johnson grabbed 17 rebounds. UK shot 54.5 percent and made 11 of 24 three-point shots.

Final box

Kentucky 75, Auburn 46 with 3:36 left

This hasn’t been much of a game since UK went on a 20-5 run in the first half for a 36-17 lead. Washington leads the way with 24 points. Herro has 17. Hagans has 14. Kentucky has crushed Auburn on the boards 38-23. And Bruce Pearl’s team is still just 6-of-22 from three-point range. Keldon Johnson with 15 rebounds.

PJ Washington adds to his three-spree

The sophomore forward now has hit five three-pointers and has 24 points overall as Kentucky leads poor Auburn 71-42 with 7:22 left at Rupp. Each team has taken 22 three-point shots. Auburn has made six. Kentucky has made 11. There’s your story right there. Shout out to Keldon Johnson, who is living off the glass. Johnson has 15 rebounds to go with his seven points. That boardwork has made up for the absence of Reid Travis.

Cats steamrolling Auburn 64-34 with 11:34 left

Kentucky opened the second half with a 17-1 run to extend the first half lead. Meanwhile, LSU beat Tennessee 82-80 in overtime in a controversial ending in Baton Rouge. Tennessee was called for a foul with 0.6 seconds left. Javonte Smart made both free throws for the Tigers’ win. LSU and Tennessee are now 12-2 in SEC play. Unless Kentucky suffers a total collapse here at Rupp, the Cats will be 12-2. So we’ll have a three-way tie for first place in the conference with just two weeks to go. One note: Keldon Johnson has 13 rebounds for Kentucky.

Kentucky picks up where it left off to start second half

The red-hot Cats scored the first 11 points of the second half to extend the lead to 25 points at 56-31. Auburn’s Austin Wiley scored inside and took a hard foul at the 15:42 mark to make it 56-33. Kentucky is now shooting 61.8 percent for the game. Hagans made his second three of the game, the second straight game in which he has made multiple three-point shots.

No Travis, no problem on the boards

At halftime, UK has a 17-14 rebounds edge over Auburn. Keldon Johnson is taking up the slack for the loss of 6-foot-8 senior forward Reid Travis. Johnson snatched six rebounds in the first half. E.J. Montgomery, who started in place of Travis, had three rebounds and two points in eight minutes. Nick Richards had one rebound in 12 minutes. UK has a 7-4 advantage in second-chance points.

Halftime: Kentucky 45, Auburn 31

Auburn arrived at Rupp Arena as the team in love with the three-point shot. That is Bruce Pearl’s MO. But it was Kentucky that was on fire from three-point range in the first half. The Cats were 9-of-17 from behind the line in the first 20 minutes. PJ Washington was 4-of-6 from three. Tyler Herro was 3-of-6. Ashton Hagans was 1-of-3. Immanuel Quickely made his only three-point try. Keldon Johnson missed his only three-point attempt. Meanwhile, after making 17 threes in thumping Arkansas on Wednesday, Auburn was just 4-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first half.

First half box

Cats are blistering from three-point range

UK rolling 36-23 with 3:47 left in the first half. John Calipari’s club has made 8 of 14 three-point attempts for 57.1 percent. Washington leads the way with four three-pointers. Herro has made two. Hagans and Quickley have each made one. An earlier Hagans three was quickly ruled a two instead.

Kentucky extends lead to 25-15

PJ Washington now with 14 points as he hits his fourth three-pointer of not just the game, but the first half. Auburn missed its first seven three-point shots before Jared Harper hit a tough transition three from the left wing. After Washington drilled another three, this time from the top of the key, Bruce Pearl asked for timeout. There is 7:21 left in the first half.

PJ Washington with 11 of UK’s first 13 points

Kentucky leads Auburn 16-10 at the 11:50 TV time in first half. Washington opened red hot with 11 points in the game’s first 5:55. The sophomore made three three-pointers. Overall, the Cats have made six of 10 shots. Auburn is 5-of-15 from the floor. The Tigers are bombing away. After making 17 three-pointers in a rout of Arkansas on Wednesday, Bruce Pearl’s team has already taken five three-pointers. Trouble is, all five of those have missed.

Box at 11:26 mark in first half

UK two fouls in first 39 seconds

Montgomery picked up a defensive foul 15 seconds into the game. Then Washington was called for charging 39 seconds into the game.

UK’s 1958 national champs honored before game

Former Kentucky basketball stars Ed Beck and Vernon Hatton remember UK’s victory over Seattle in the 1958 NCAA championship game. The 1957-58 title team is being honored as part of the UK-Auburn game on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

EJ Montgomery gets the start

UK freshman EJ Montgomery gets the start in place of the injured Reid Travis (sprained knee). The 6-foot-10 forward from Ft. Pierce, Fla. is averaging 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Montgomery is joined by Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and PJ Washington. Auburn is starting Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar, Chuma Okeke and Anfernee McLemore.

Here’s the final box from UK’s 82-80 win at Auburn on Jan. 19, 2019.

Officials

Officials for Cats-Tigers are Doug Shows, Ron Groover and Jason Baker. This is the sixth UK game that Shows has worked this season. He worked the Duke, Monmouth, Utah, Alabama and Florida games. This is the fifth UK game Groover has worked this season. He worked Duke, Louisville, Texas A&M and Tennessee games. Baker has worked one Kentucky game this season. That was the UNC Greensboro game on Dec. 1.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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