LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — No. 8 Kentucky used a huge first half run and held off every Auburn attack to top the No. 15 Tigers, 73-66, on Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
With the victory, the Wildcats (24-5, 14-2 SEC) clinch the SEC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. Auburn drops to 24-5 (11-5 SEC) with the loss.
Immanuel Quickley led the Wildcats with 18 points and 12 rebounds to record the Wildcats' only double-double. Tyrese Maxey (17 points), Nick Richards (14 points) and Nate Sestina (11 points) also broke double figures.
Auburn got off to a hot start, hitting it's first four 3-pointers to help build itself a 20-11 lead at the 12:08 mark of the 1st half. The Wildcats responded with a 20-3 run, highlighted by a pair of Maxey layups, to take a 31-23 lead, a lead it never surrendered.
After Auburn crept within four, Nate Sestina drilled a 3-pointer to extend UK's lead back out to seven points, 40-33, with 50 seconds left before halftime. Auburn scored the final four points of the half to cut the Wildcats' lead to just three points at halftime.
Throughout the first 18:32 of the second half, the two teams traded blow after blow as UK never led by more than seven points and Auburn never got closer than two points. With the Wildcats leading 71-64 with 1:28 to play, the Tigers were forced to foul and Maxey nailed a pair of free throws to push the UK lead to nine points and round out the UK scoring.
Kentucky hosts Tennessee on Tuesday night in the final home game of the season. The Wildcats defeated the Vols 77-64 earlier this season.