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January 10, 2007

Kentucky too much for poor-shooting Tigers

Joe Crawford had 21 points and Ramel Bradley added 18 and a career-high 11 rebounds as Kentucky opened the home portion of its Southeastern Conference schedule with an 84-57 victory over Auburn Wednesday night.

Crawford, who tied a personal best with 23 points Saturday in the Wildcats' conference opener at Mississippi, faded down the stretch but ignited the Wildcats' offense early. He was perfect in three 3-point attempts and used two old-fashioned three-point plays - one in each half - to halt Auburn's attempts to get back into the game.

The Wildcats (13-3, 2-0) stretched their winning streak to nine games and beat the Tigers for the 22nd time in their last 23 meetings.

Against a smaller Auburn team, the ball kept bouncing off the glass to Bradley, whose previous rebounding best was seven. Another guard, freshman Jodie Meeks, tied his career high with nine boards.

Twice, Bradley and Crawford teamed up for game-defining plays.

In the first half, Bradley leaped into the air to pull down a steal, and Crawford followed Bradley's missed layup with a basket of his own, turning it into a three-point play.

Then, with two minutes left, Bradley's no-look pass left Crawford alone in the lane to dunk it home.

Randolph Morris had 12 points and Bobby Perry broke out of a shooting slump with 12 to give the Wildcats four double-digit scorers. In Kentucky's previous six games, Perry has averaged fewer than five points. It was his highest point total since he got 17 Dec. 5 against Chattanooga.

Kelvin Lewis provided a lone spark for Auburn when he came off the bench to connect on four 3-pointers and pick up a team-high 14 points. But it was too late for the Tigers (11-6, 1-1), who remain one win shy of matching their win total from last year.

Quantez Robertson hit the Tigers' first shot from the field, but eight minutes and nine shots went by before Robertson picked up the team's second basket.

Kentucky used a 10-0 run early in the half and a 9-0 one later to build a 36-19 lead at halftime. The Wildcats never trailed, and Auburn managed only one tie - at 2-2.

Auburn shot just 28 percent from the field while the Wildcats made 56 percent of their attempts from the floor.

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