"I think just the experience of all seven games in conference play that have gone down to the last minute or two (has helped). Just being experienced in those situations and being able to make a play has helped. They (UK players) are very, very determined and close. We have played smart at the end of games. We didn't last night, but credit Auburn for putting it to us with the press."
Despite making a season-high 24 turnovers at Auburn, UK won because it made 26 of 39 shots from the field, won the rebounding battle 27-20 and got a combined 39 points from Joe Crawford and Patrick Patterson to offset not having point guard Ramel Bradley (concussion) and Jodie Meeks (hip).
Kentucky used just seven players, but Mark Coury played only three minutes. Five players played 31 or more minutes.
"I think they are playing very well right now. Maybe their depth is not quite as good as in the past," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "Now they are limiting who they are playing. They are playing their best players a lot more minutes now, and that seems to have helped them. They are still Kentucky and find ways to win. The kids seem to be buying in much better right now to coach Gillispie and what he wants."
Other players compensating for injured teammates
Kentucky is also getting production from role players to compensate for injuries that have put Meeks, Bradley, Jasper and Crawford out of the lineup at times. Against Auburn, sophomore guard Michael Porter hit two 3-pointers in 20 minutes and sophomore forward Ramon Harris added nine points, four rebounds, two assists and one steals.
Gillispie said their play was 'totally critical" to UK's win.
"We have been put in situations where they have had to play and perform well and they have met the challenge," the Kentucky coach said. "They are maturing and getting better. Ramon has started to score a little bit, he is a good defender and he's a good rebounder. Michael made a couple of big shots that were extra bonuses for us. They are maturing into guys that give us extra confidence."
Lebo certainly didn't expect the two to combine for 15 points.
What did you think of Porter and Harris?
"Porter made some key shots for them last night. It certainly makes them a little different team when he is making shots from the perimeter," Lebo said. "Harris is just a solid player. He's a pretty good defensive player and he hurt us with couple of offensive rebounds."
Alabama (13-10, 2-6 SEC) is coming off a 73-66 loss at Mississippi State. Alonzo Gee led the Tide with 16 points and five rebounds while Mykal Riley had 15 points and seven rebounds. Center Richard Hendrix, Alabama's top scorer at 19 points per game, had 12 points before fouling out.
"They are playing very well," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said of Kentucky. "Obviously, they have won four in a row. They have overcome a lot of difficult situations. They are playing with confidence."
Alabama certainly isn't playing with confidence at the foul line. Alabama is shooting just 59 percent at the foul line this year and was 9-for-17 against Mississippi State.
"That has crept up on us every game and we have to find a way to improve that," Gottfried said about the foul shooting. "We practice it every day, but it is a place where you just have to improve and get better, especially if you want to win on the road."