Yet, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl somewhat saw this coming, as he envisioned a blowout loss earlier this week. After narrowly defeating Ole Miss 78-74 on Wednesday, Pearl concluded his postgame press conference by saying, “We rebound like we did tonight — we’ll get beat by 40.”
In that game, the Tigers lost the rebounding battle 24-33, on Saturday, they lost 23-41. As Pearl expected, that result was bad.
Auburn didn’t quite lose by 40, but the Tigers did get down by that many. Thanks to Kentucky playing some walk-ons at the end of the game, Auburn scored eight unanswered points over the last two minutes, to lose by a 32-point deficit, with a final score of 86-54.
“I was off by eight points,” Pearl said after the game. “I hate when I’m right.”
Pearl says Kentucky’s biggest advantage was their physicality, which posed a major mismatch to Auburn. “The physicality, they were much more physical than we were. (They) played that way on both ends of the floor.”
As for the players, Pearl had some high praise for each Wildcat starter as well.
“You know, Tshiebwe is the most physical player in the game. And you know, Toppin is big, strong, bouncy, physical. Their wings are big. Livingston is toughening up a little bit and doesn’t play like a young player. Reeves really helps them. Wallace is–I don’t know many freshmen built like that–a great player, great size, great tempo.”
Things are starting to click at the right time, and it’s showing in the win column.