This game started off ugly, for everyone. Despite the arena being full of southern college coeds, nothing could help shield your eyes from the dreadful offensive starts at both ends of the floor. At the first media timeout, each team traded baskets for a dismal 4-4 tie. The ‘Cats started a scary 2-14 from the floor, but finished the half 10-14. On three point baskets, the teams combined to shoot 1-21, and the lone 3 ball was from Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer. Without Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel quickly picked up two fouls and saw limited action in the first half. The ‘Cats lead at the break 30-25.
Nerlens Noel sat the last 8 minutes of the 1st half with 2 fouls. 13 seconds into the 2nd half and he picks up his 3rd foul. With poise, maturity, and trust, Calipari kept Noel in the game. Noel played smart, stayed aggressive, and continued to attack. The ‘Cats opened the 2nd half on a 7-2 run that stretched their lead to 10. The ‘Cats never looked back as they continued to make shots.
Around the 11:00 mark in the 2nd half, Archie Goodwin throws a lob to Nerlens Noel who jumps over Auburn’s Frankie Sullivan to slam it home. With that, the route was on. On Tuesday, John Calipari said in an interview he could not see his team being up 20 on anybody. With 6:44 to go, the ‘Cats lead by 20 points over Auburn, and Nerlens Noel was sitting on the bench with his 4th foul. Auburn fans start to head for the exit rows as the ‘Cats continued to stomp on the throat of the Tigers.
John Calipari said this team doesn’t know how to just “whomp” on someone. The “whomping” was in full effect as the ‘Cats whomped, stomped, and crushed a defeated Auburn team who finished without hitting a 3-point basket (0-15) for the first time since 1997. Kentucky shot 54% for the game, 66% in the 2nd half, and won the rebounding battle 43-30. Kyle Wiltjer lead all scorers with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. Noel had 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks in very limited action due to foul trouble. Goodwin/Poythress/Harrow also contributed with 12 points each. Kentucky pulls away in a big 2nd half effort, 75-53.
Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was taken to school tonight by his old coach and boss. Retiring jerseys and having Charles Barkley in attendance was not enough for the Tigers to withstand the onslaught of offensive efficiency from the ‘Cats. For this young group, to win big in such a hostile environment shows the growth of this team. They appeared to almost be having fun, lots of smiles, and winning big.
The video below is Nerlens Noel catching a lob from Archie Goodwin, and slamming the dunk through as he jumped over Auburn’s Frankie Sullivan. #StraitBeast
YouTube Credit: Travis Bickle