- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The Auburn Tigers couldn’t get the ball when they needed it most.

Tyrese Tanner scored 28 points but the Tigers weren’t able to collect a couple of key rebounds in the closing seconds or get a final shot off in Sunday’s 73-71 loss to No. 10 Kentucky.

“The opportunity was there,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We played hard. Sometimes we just didn’t do everything that we needed to do, like rebounding the basketball on the defensive end.

“They got too many offensive possessions. At that point, you’ve got to box out and get that defensive rebound to even give yourselves a chance.”

Jennifer O’Neill scored 16 points, Samarie Walker had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Kentucky (15-3, 3-2 Southeasern Conference) overcame a 13-point first-half deficit.

The Wildcats survived 13-of-29 shooting from the foul line to hold off the Tigers (11-7, 2-2).

“We had to make some big plays to get the victory,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “To come on the road against a really good team that’s motivated to win and plays hard, these are difficult games to win.”

Meagan Tucker hit a jumper with 1:07 left to bring Auburn within two points. The Wildcats worked 20 seconds off the clock and then called timeout. O’Neill missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds, but Linnae Harper and Walker grabbed the offensive rebounds.

Walker missed two free throws with 6 seconds remaining. Tanner rebounded and threw it to Katie Frerking. O’Neill smothered her in the corner as she collected the ball and Auburn couldn’t get a final shot off.

“No. 23 (Walker) tipped the ball while I was trying to dribble and I was trying to pass it up to Katie because I saw she was open,” Tanner said. “But my pass was too high. I probably should have kept it. I saw her wide open, but it just didn’t get there.”

Harper also had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. O’Neill made 4 of 11 3-pointers and had four assists and three steals. Leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth had five points in 14 minutes.

Auburn’s No. 2 scorer, Hasina Muhammad, missed the game with an unspecified injury.

Tanner kept Auburn close with 17 points in the second half. She matched her career high in an SEC game.

“She put it on her shoulders and said, ‘Come on, guys,’” Williams-Flournoy said. “And that is exactly what she did.”

Tanner’s sister, Tra’Cee, scored 15 points for Auburn before fouling out with 12:26 left. Brandy Montgomery added 10 points but was 5 of 14 shooting and had seven turnovers.

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