AUBURN, Ala. (UK Athletics)- Tyler Herro made two free throws with 24 seconds left and Immanuel Quickley added another to help No. 12 Kentucky survive a big rally from No. 12 Auburn, 82-80 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (14-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) rebounded after losing a 17-point second-half lead to finish off a showdown between two of the league’s top teams.
Auburn (13-4, 2-2) took an 80-79 lead on Jared Harper’s contested 3-pointer over Ashton Hagans with 32 seconds left. Herro grabbed the lead back from the line, then Harper held onto the ball for what he hoped would be a game-winner.
The Tigers’ 6-foot point guard drove and launched a shot that hit the backboard and bounced off the rim a couple of times but didn’t go in.
Quickley grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made the first of two free throws with 3 seconds left and Samir Doughty’s desperation 3-point attempt missed at the buzzer.
Herro scored 15 in the second half and he and Keldon Johnson both scored 20 points for the Wildcats.
Travis Reid had 17 points and seven rebounds as the Tigers played without injured center Austin Wiley. PJ Washington scored 13.
Bryce Brown had 25 of his 28 points in the second half and was 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Harper had 17 points and six assists.
Auburn announced before the game that Wiley is expected to miss “a couple of weeks” with a lower right leg injury.
The teams meet again on Feb. 23 in Lexington.
Kentucky: Weathered the storm after losing the lead. Freshman point guard Hagans had his string of five straight double-digit games end but still filled the stat sheet. He had six points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Auburn: Heated up after shooting 33 percent in the first half. After that, the Tigers made 8 of 14 3-pointers.
Wiley wore a protective boot on his right leg. The 6-foot-11, 260-pounder is averaging 10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game. His absence gave the Wildcats an even bigger size advantage.
Kentucky hosts No. 24 Mississippi State on Tuesday night.
Auburn has two straight big SEC road games, facing South Carolina Tuesday and Mississippi State next Saturday.