AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Allen Flannigan scored 21 points and he and JT Thor each sank a pair of clutch free throws in the last 18 seconds to preserve Auburn’s 66-59 come-from-behind win over Kentucky on Saturday.
The Wildcats turned the ball over 18 times, 12 of those coming after halftime when Auburn finally found its groove after woeful early shooting, and rallied into the lead for the final 10 minutes.
Flannigan scored 16 after halftime, Devan Cambridge scored five of his 13 points during a 9-0 run by the Tigers (8-6, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) midway through the final period when they wrested momentum away from Kentucky (4-8, 3-2).
Freshman Sharife Cooper, finally cleared to play by the NCAA a week ago, scored eight of his 11 points after halftime and made eight assists.
Flannigan started the pivotal 9-0 run with a defensive rebound leading to his bucket that tied the game at 43. Kentucky lost its next possession on an offensive foul and Cambridge knocked down a 3-pointer for a 46-43 lead at 10:07 and Auburn never trailed again.
All nine Wildcats scored with Davion Mitz leading with 11 points, Jacob Toppin added 10 but only two in the second half. Toppin and Dontaie Allen led Kentucky to a 25-21 halftime lead. Allen was held scoreless after intermission, finishing with eight points.
Each team was cold early, Kentucky leading 9-2 despite 4-for-16 shooting only because Auburn was 1 of 15. The Tigers missed their first eight shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Auburn is 4-4 against the Wildcats. That is the second-most wins by any SEC team against Kentucky in that span and the first time Auburn has beaten Kentucky in four consecutive seasons since 1987-90.
Kentucky’s John Calipari was asked about stepping up his wardrobe game for the start of SEC play this month, going from casual to tailored, donning a sharp sportscoat. “I wanted to feel like I was coaching again. I was kind of feeling like this was all pickup basketball. I wanted to feel like I was coaching, that’s why I did it,” Calipari said.
Kentucky is at Georgia on Wednesday. Auburn travels to Arkansas on Wednesday.
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