With a white-hot No. 19 Kentucky at the 3-point line, Auburn's defense was unable to hold.
Kentucky came out shooting 8-for-8 from deep, including six in the first quarter, in the Tigers' 78-68 loss inside Auburn Arena on Thursday night.
"If we had defended the 3-point line tonight, it would have been a different game," said Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy.
Auburn was able to stay in the game with the offensive output of Unique Thompson, Crystal Primm and Janiah McKay, who all finished in double-digit scoring. Thompson finished with a game-high 20 points while Primm and McKay added on 11 and 14, respectively.
Flournoy attributed the Wildcats’ ability to make quick 3-pointers to a lack of communication in Auburn's defense.
“There was a lack of communication, there wasn’t anyone screaming, ‘The shooters over here,’” Flournoy said.
Despite the Wildcat's streak beyond the arc, Auburn would enter the second quarter down just four. Kentucky would deal a killing blow, however, with the Wildcats going on a 13-0 run to open up the second period to go into halftime with a 14-point lead.
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“It wasn’t just about them making the threes,” Thompson said. “It was about us knowing that they were there, and we still dared them to shoot it. Obviously, they won the truth or dare.”
Though Auburn would hold Kentucky to just two 3-pointers in the second half, the Tigers would never get back within eight.
“The first half really killed us, we came back and played better, but we couldn’t get it done on our end,” Thompson said.
To Flournoy, the game is different if Auburn is able to take away the deep shot.
“You take the 3-point shot away and we win the basketball game,” Flournoy said.
With the home loss, Auburn looks toward making a push to reach the NCAA tournament. The Tigers will have six more opportunities to tune up before getting toward the big dance.
“Our hope is always to go the NCAA tournament, but we would rather focus on the things we have to do to get to the tournament,” Flournoy said.
Their next opportunity comes at Arkansas on Sunday at 1 p.m. as the start of Auburn’s two-game road trip. Following the trip, Auburn will return home to face rival Alabama.
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