No. 8 Kentucky 98, Auburn 64
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ Rodrick Rhodes, coming off a poor performance in Kentucky’s loss to Louisville, came off the bench to equal his season-high with 23 points as the eighth-ranked Wildcats opened Southeastern Conference play with a 98-64 victory over Auburn on Wednesday night.
Rhodes, who didn’t start after going 3-for-17 from the field in Sunday’s 88-86 loss to Louisville, hit six of 15 shots, grabbed three rebounds, had four assists and five turnovers. He had only five points and one rebound in the Louisville game.
Auburn (7-3) rallied from a 45-32 halftime deficit to trail 48-41 on Ray Donald’s two free throws with 17:16 remaining. Rhodes completed a three-point play and Tony Delk hit a 3-pointer as Kentucky (7-2) opened a 58-45 lead two minutes later.
After Donald hit a 12-footer from the baseline to slice the margin to 58-47, Delk ignited a decisive 12-0 spurt with a 15-footer. Antoine Walker then completed a three-point play and hit a 3-pointer and Delk completed the run with a 12-footer and hook shot for a 70-47 lead with 12:24 to go.
Kentucky’s biggest lead came at 98-61 on Scott Padgett’s 3-pointer with 1:13 to go.
Delk finished with 18 points while Walker followed with 13 and Walter McCarty 12 for Kentucky, which hit 36 of 79 shots (46 percent). The Wildcats held a 51-36 rebound advantage behind Mark Pope’s 10.
Pat Burke topped Auburn with 18 points and Jim Costner added 10. The Tigers hit 23 of 56 shots (41 percent). Burke also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Auburn turned the ball over five times in its first nine possessions in falling behind 11-2 but recovered to trim the margin to 14-11 on Martyn Norris’ 16-footer with 11:45 remaining in the half.
Auburn stayed within striking distance until Kentucky went on a 10-4 run in the final 3:46 to take a 13-point halftime lead.