After a huge overtime win over Ole Miss, Auburn travels to Kentucky for another SEC matchup. The Tigers are hoping to ride the momentum off of their exciting win to bring home a second conference win, while the Wildcats are looking to redeem themselves after a one-point loss against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Since starting conference play, both teams have had rough starts, losing their first five SEC games; Kentucky picked up its first conference win six games into SEC play, while Auburn won its seventh. Moreover, both teams have not had an SEC game, win or loss, where its field goal percentage is above 45%.
The Tigers have not beaten the Wildcats since 2016, an eight-game losing streak, and over the past 10 years, Auburn’s record is 1-9 against Kentucky. In addition, Auburn has not won at Kentucky since 2006, when the Tigers had DeWanna Bonner, a former guard, who went fifth overall in the WNBA draft in 2009.
To break the losing streak, the Tigers need to capitalize on having Aicha Coulibaly and Honesty Scott-Grayson back playing together.
Since Dec. 11, the Tigers played without either Coulibaly or Scott-Grayson until last week when they both returned to play in Starkville, Miss. Having both leading scorers back helped lead the Tigers to their first SEC win against the Lady Rebels last Sunday, and Coulibaly made her return known, dropping a career-high 31 points.
"I was ready. I wanted to win. I was tired of losing,” said Coulibaly.
Auburn needs to keep this mindset to win in Memorial Coliseum.
For the Wildcats, they need to be consistent throughout the whole game to add to their win streak. Throughout the season, the Cats have lost close games due to a low-scoring quarter. In five of their six loses, Kentucky had usually one quarter, typically the third or fourth, where its opponent outscored them by ten or more points.
Kentucky’s graduate student Robyn Benton has averaged 17.1 points per game. While playing against Mississippi State, Benton scored 24 points and had seven assists, a career high. Benton has been a dependable scorer for Kentucky, and adding to her strong offense, Jada Walker and Maddie Scherr average double-digit points per game.
Scherr, in addition to her offense, leads the team in both offensive and defensive rebounds, steals and blocks. Having a strong defensive player like Scherr will be crucial in this game; she could shut down either Scott-Grayson or Coulibaly offensively and force the Tigers to play around that.
To combat Kentucky’s strong offense, sophomore Mar’shaun Bostic has stepped up defensively. Overall, she is third on the team in steals, behind Scott-Grayson and Coulibaly and was second in steals against Ole Miss, while also scoring 11 points.
"When I attacked, they either fouled or I scored," Bostic said. "If I keep attacking, I can either get my teammates open or make a layup. Coach J always says get downhill."
The game will be played in Lexington in Memorial Coliseum at 6 p.m. CST, streaming on the SEC Network+.
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Amanda Davidson is a sophomore at Auburn, majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing and studio arts. From LaGrange, Ga., she started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.