Kentucky stopped Auburn, but the Tigers still escaped with a 66-59 win over the Wildcats Saturday at Auburn Arena.

Allen Flannigan scored 21 points and he and JT Thor each sank a pair of clutch free throws in the last 18 seconds to preserve Auburn’s 66-59 come-from-behind win.

“We defended that way you defend to win games,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

The loss was the second straight for Kentucky this week after the Wildcats (4-7, 2-3 SEC) opened the Southeastern Conference with three straight victories, with two of those on the road. Auburn defeated the Wildcats despite missing 14 of their first 15 shots.

“They played well enough to win and they did what they had to do,” Calipari said. “We gave ourselves a chance. … we fought and gave ourselves a chance, but during the game, the man-o-man-o stuff with didn’t make.”

Auburn (8-6, 2-4) pieced together a run in the second half that enabled the Tigers to hold on down the stretch. Kentucky led 25-21 at the half but Auburn outscored the guests 45-34 in the final half.

“We’re close …. I’m disappointed in what we did,” Calipari said. “We came out of a couple of timeouts and didn’t do what we were trying to do. I thought we had them. We should have been up big at half. … There were points in this game — I was proud of these guys and points, I’m like, ‘what in the world are we doing?’ ”

Calipari said the Wildcats weren’t physical enough especially on the boards. Auburn held a 41-38 edge on the glass.

“We should be a better offensive team, but it got rough,” Calipari said. “We weren’t able to battle back. … At the end of the day, we got out-toughed. That’s what happened.”

The Wildcats turned the ball over 18 times, 12 of those coming after halftime when Auburn finally found its groove after woeful early shooting, and rallied into the lead for the final 10 minutes.

Flannigan scored 16 after halftime, Devan Cambridge scored five of his 13 points during a 9-0 run by the Tigers midway through the final period when they wrested momentum away from Kentucky.

———

KENTUCKY (4-8) — Jackson 0-3 2-2 2, Sarr 3-5 0-1 6, Askew 2-6 1-2 5, Boston 2-9 0-1 5, Mintz 5-12 0-2 11, Brooks 4-7 0-0 8, Allen 3-7 0-1 8, Toppin 3-4 4-4 10, Ware 1-4 2-3 4. Totals 23-57 9-16 59.

AUBURN (8-6) — Thor 2-9 2-2 6, Williams 3-7 0-0 7, Cooper 3-13 5-10 11, Flanigan 6-14 8-8 21, Johnson 2-7 0-0 4, Cambridge 5-8 0-0 13, Cardwell 2-2 0-1 4, Akingbola 0-0 0-0 0, Franklin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 15-21 66.

Halftime—Kentucky 25-21. 3-Point Goals—Kentucky 4-17 (Allen 2-6, Boston 1-4, Mintz 1-4, Brooks 0-1, Askew 0-2), Auburn 5-24 (Cambridge 3-5, Flanigan 1-3, Williams 1-3, Johnson 0-4, Thor 0-4, Cooper 0-5). Fouled Out—Brooks. Rebounds—Kentucky 35 (Brooks, Toppin 6), Auburn 37 (Flanigan 9). Assists—Kentucky 7 (Askew 3), Auburn 11 (Cooper 8). Total Fouls—Kentucky 20, Auburn 19. A—1,824 (9,121).

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