No. 1 Auburn, No. 12 Kentucky Survive Scares, But Bama Doesn’t As Georgia Wins First Game Of 2022

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No. 1 Auburn trailed for much of the game at struggling Missouri but was finally able to go 1-0 all-time as the top-ranked team in the nation with a 55-54 win that had 11 lead changes.

No. 12 Kentucky blew a 15-point lead in the second half over Mississippi State amid more injuries, but managed to win 82-74 in overtime at home for coach John Calipari’s 800th career victory.

And Georgia won its first SEC game of the season, 82-76, at home to improve to 1-6 in the league and 6-14 overall as the Tide fell to 13-7 and 4-4.

Here is the SEC schedule for Wednesday night (all times eastern):

Florida (11-7, 2-4) at No. 18 Tennessee (13-5, 4-3), 6 p.m., ESPN2

Vanderbilt (10-7, 2-3) at South Carolina (11-7, 2-4), 7 p.m., ESPNU

Arkansas (14-5, 4-3) at Ole Miss (10-9, 2-5), 7 p.m., SEC Network

Texas A&M (15-4, 4-2) at No. 19 LSU (15-4, 3-4), 9 p.m., SEC Network

Guard K.D. Johnson scored Auburn’s last five points over the final moments with a driving layup and free throw for a 53-51 lead with 1:29 left and a drive for a set underneath score in traffic for a 55-51 advantage with 47.9 seconds to go.

Johnson finished with 17 points as Auburn (19-1, 8-0 SEC) won its 16th straight, the longest streak in the nation. Center Walker Kessler scored 13 points with 12 rebounds.

“Well, get the ball to K.D. Johnson and get the hell out of the way,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “It’s not rocket science, right?”

Auburn won despite point guard Wendell Green Jr. injuring his right knee in a collision with Missouri’s Yaya Keita with 13:18 to play. Green, who leads Auburn with 13 points a game, did return and finished with six points.

“When Wendell got rolled up down there, you kind of see the whole season flash before your eyes,” Pearl said.

Auburn’s greatest season perhaps ever continues to pop.

Kentucky (16-4, 6-2 SEC) got 21 points and 22 rebounds from forward Oscar Tshiebwe, and guard Kellan Grady scored eight points in overtime — a reverse layup for a 74-72 lead to break the regulation tie, a 3-pointer with 2:20 left for a 77-74 lead and another 3-pointer with 1:12 to go for an 80-74 lead.

Mississippi State (13-6, 4-3) got a career-high 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting from junior guard Iverson Molinar, who scored 22 in the second half. The Bulldogs erased a 53-38 deficit with 12:25 to go. They outscored Kentucky 8-3 over the final 2:51 for the 72-72 tie in regulation.

Tshiewbwe left the game briefly with an injury, returned, but limped off after the game. Grady, who finished with 18 points and four 3-pointers in 11 attempts, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation.

Kentucky was without point guard TyTy Washington, who injured his ankle in the loss at Auburn on Saturday. Point guard Sahvir Wheeler was questionable entering the game after a screen collision at Auburn, but he started and played 32 minutes, scoring 15 points with six assists and a steal.

Kentucky forward Jacob Toppin apparently injured his leg. He scored just three points with two rebounds in 15 minutes.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” said Calipari, who is in his 13th year at Kentucky after head coaching jobs at Memphis, the New Jersey Nets and the University of Massachusetts. “I’m 56 now, but started young. I’ve had a lot of good players. I’d like to thank all those players from UMass, all those players from Memphis, and all those players here that have won all these games.”

Kentucky plays at No. 7 Kansas (17-2, 6-1 Big 12) at 6 p.m. eastern Saturday on ESPN to highlight the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Alabama led 42-36 at halftime, 45-36 at the 18-minute mark and still led 63-58 with 7:20 to go, but could not hold on. The Tide shot 9 of 34 from 3-point range for 26% and turned the ball over 19 times.

Georgia, which has a 77-60 home loss to Gardner-Webb, won for the first time since beating Western Carolina 85-79 on Dec. 20. Braelen Bridges scored 13 with five rebounds, and Kario Oquendo added 11 with seven rebounds.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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