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Big Blueprint: UK finishes strong, grinds one out at Auburn

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Andrew Harrison had a team-high 16 points in UK's 64-56 win at Auburn on Wednesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Andrew Harrison had a team-high 16 points in UK's 64-56 win at Auburn on Wednesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Big Blueprint is back. A rapid recap of the game, the Big Blueprint looks at the nuts and bolts of the latest UK game when Cat Scratches is not in attendance. Tonight, we break down Kentucky's second road win in five days, a 64-56 victory at Auburn.

The skinny:
At some point, you figured the shots would start falling for Kentucky. They never did, but UK survived anyway. The Wildcats pulled away late at Auburn, outscoring the home-standing Tigers 29-18 over the final 11:29 to turn a three-point deficit into a 64-56 win. UK (19-5, 9-2 Southeastern Conference) shot just 30.9 percent for the game, but scored 21 second-chance points off 22 offensive rebounds in winning its fourth game in a row. Andrew Harrison had a team-high 16 points and Julius Randle added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The difference: Defense. As hard as it was for UK to score on Wednesday night, the Cats made it even harder on Auburn. The Tigers shot just 32.7 percent as a team, getting consistent scoring only from leading scorer Chris Denson (26 points on 8-of-18 shooting). Denson's backcourt mate, K.T. Harrell, struggled from start to finish with UK's length and scored only seven points -- more than 12 points below his season average -- on 2-of-15 shooting.

Player of the game: Harrison. UK's most consistent offensive threat, Harrison didn't shoot the ball particularly well (3-of-10). However, he pushed the ball in transition effectively and picked his spots on drives to go 8-fot-11 at the free-throw line. The freshman point guard also converted a big and-one with 6:23 remaining to double UK's lead from three points to six. Auburn would get no closer than five the rest of the way.

Turning point: With 11:25 left and UK trailing 38-35, Randle had just four points and five rebounds. At the under-12 media timeout, John Calipari called his star freshman's number. UK fed Randle in the post and he delivered a basket in a matter of seconds, getting himself and his team going. Starting with that basket, Randle had eight points and seven rebounds as UK finished off its fourth victory in a row.

Key stat: 3-point shooting. On the season, UK is shooting 52.6 percent from inside the arc. The Cats typically make their living inside, but they only 12-of-43 (27.9 percent) from 2-point range on this night. Thankfully, the shots were falling at a reasonable clip -- 5-of-12 or 41.7 percent -- from 3. UK, meanwhile, held Auburn to 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) shooting from 3.

Unsung hero: Johnson. The 7-foot freshman has settled nicely into a starting role. Johnson had eight points and eight rebounds in his 21 minutes, grabbing a team-high seven boards on the offensive glass in the process. He also added two steals and a block.

What this one means:
For the second game in a row, UK wasn't at its best on the road. In SEC play, that often means back-to-back losses. The Cats, however, were able to gut both games out. Coach Cal will have plenty to talk about in Thursday's film session, but it will be much more pleasant coming off another win. UK has now won seven times in eight games to set up a highly anticipated showdown with SEC-leading Florida on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET in Rupp Arena.

Postgame video interviews

Coach Cal

Harrison, Randle

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