LEXINGTON, Ky. — Isaiah Jackson scored a career-high 18 points and added 11 rebounds, Brandon Boston Jr. made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points and Kentucky edged Auburn 82-80 on Saturday to end a four-game losing streak.
Kentucky trailed the entire first half, built a 14-point lead early in the second and saw Auburn rally to tie before Davion Mintz snapped the deadlock with 33 seconds left. The Wildcats then went 2 of 4 from the line while the Tigers missed their final four shots, including a block and two shots under their basket.
JT Thor was fouled on a 3-point try with 1.1 seconds remaining and made all three free throws but Kentucky completed a long inbounds pass to end the game.
Besides what would have been John Calipari’s first five-game slide in his 12 years at Kentucky (6-13, 5-8 SEC), the Wildcats prevented their first-ever three-game losing streak at 45-year-old Rupp Arena. They also denied the Tigers (11-11, 5-8) their first season sweep. The Tigers are 2-50 inside Rupp with their last win there coming in 1988.
Jackson, a freshman, had his first double-double. Keion Brooks Jr. added 12 points for Kentucky, which shot 53% in the second half and made 8 of 13 from the arc after going 3 of 11 from long distance in the first half.
Thor was 5 of 6 on 3-pointers in scoring 24 points with nine rebounds for Auburn. Allen Flanigan added 23 points and Sbarife Cooper, averaging 20.2 points per game coming in, finished with 14 points and eight assists but on just 6-of-23 shooting. Cooper, the freshman point guard who sat out the first 11 games, has had his two lowest-scoring games against Kentucky. He scored 11 points in a 66-59 victory on Jan. 16.
Boston and Mintz hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Kentucky its first lead. After Cooper replied with a 3-pointer, the Wildcats went on a 19-6 run that included two more Boston 3-pointers and resulted in a 60-47 bulge. Another Boston 3 made it a 14-point lead midway through the second half.
Kentucky missed its first eight shots with Auburn going up nine midway through the first half before the Wildcats scored seven straight. The Tigers again were up nine after Flanigan scored five consecutive points and led 36-30 at the break.
Both head coaches were called for technicals, Calipari in the first and Bruce Pearl in the second.