Three more things from Kentucky’s 75-70 loss at Auburn
1. Kudos to Derek Willis
Wrote some about the junior forward in my column, but Willis was outstanding. After being knocked by head coach John Calipari on Friday for his bad habits on defense, Willis played 31 minutes and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. He also scored 12 points, hitting four of 10 shots, including two-of-five from three. Willis also had two assists.
“Derek played a great game,” said teammate Tyler Ulis. “That’s how you battle. He came running in and got on the offensive board, defensive board, hitting big shots. That’s how he’s supposed to play and he did.”
2. Auburn players on beating Kentucky
Cinmeon Bowers, who had predicted Friday that Auburn would win: “This is crazy. We just beat Kentucky. We just made history. Auburn hadn’t beaten Kentucky since 2000, so it feels great. Kentucky is a good team. They’re a great team, but I had confidence that my guards would outplay their guards. They’re good guards, but I had confidence in my guards.”
Kareem Canty, who scored 26 points: “First of all, it’s Kentucky. Growing up where I came from (New York), there are two things that you dream about. It’s either playing for Kentucky or Duke, or having a chance to play against them. I had a chance to play against them tonight while my whole family and the world was watching. I have a lot of people in my neighborhood who look up to me, so I was too anxious to get going in the first half. Once I just calmed down, everything was easier.”
Tyler Harris, who scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds: “One of the main reasons I wanted to come where was to have upsets against teams like this. I just want to continue to help the program and lead the team to more victories. I always wanted to go to a place where we could win big and turn the program around.”
3. Looking at the numbers
Auburn made 12 three-pointers, the most against a Kentucky team since Mississippi State was 12-of-22 against the Cats on Feb. 15, 2011. It was just the fifth time that an opponent has made 12-or-more threes against the Cats in the Calipari Era. Sam Houston made 18 of 38 threes against Kentucky in Calipari’s first season.
Jamal Murray took 22 shots, second only to his 23 against Ohio State in the loss to the Buckeyes in New York. Murray was 13-of-23 against Ohio State. He was eight-of-22 against Auburn.
Kentucky averaged 0.952 points per possession, second-lowest of the season. The previous low was 0.932 in the loss at LSU. It was the fourth time this season that the Cats have failed to reach the 1.0 point-per-possession mark.
Tuesday night, Mississippi State shot 52.9 percent in its 80-74 loss at Kentucky. Saturday, Auburn shot 52.2 percent in the second half as the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit to get the win.