When we look back on this game, we’ll probably think first of the fouls. Forty-nine were called tonight, 29 on Kentucky and 20 on Auburn. The Cats shot 24 free throws to the Tigers’ 44, a frustrating and telling stat; however, an even bigger component to tonight’s loss was rebounding. Auburn absolutely manhandled Kentucky inside, winning the rebounding battle 42-28. The Tigers had 17 offensive rebounds to the Cats’ 6, leading to 17 second-chance points.
Kentucky’s performance on the offensive boards has been an issue all season, and John Calipari brought it up first in his postgame press conference.
“The difference was the offensive rebounding and that came down to toughness. [Austin] Wiley just had a field day on Nick [Richards] and not many people have done that to Nick, but he did. There were probably six or seven offensive rebounds — are you ready? — where we didn’t leave our feet. We didn’t jump. I’m like, what is going on?”
Let’s go back to the fouls for a second. According to stat guru Corey Price, Auburn’s 44 free-throw attempts are the second most in regulation by a Kentucky opponent in the John Calipari Era behind North Carolina’s 45 in December 2013. Calipari mostly refrained from commenting about officiating after the game, but gave Auburn props for getting to the line so often.
“Let me just tell you, they put their head down and they go. That’s what they do. And we were trying to do the same without the same result. We were trying to do the same.”
“Give Auburn credit. They were more physical. They created more fouls than us, obviously, and the crazy thing is, we had our chance 62-60 with the ball. We’re okay, let’s go. And we don’t do what we need to.”