LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 6-ranked Kentucky (15-2, 5-0) maintained its hold on first place in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday with a 92-72 victory over Auburn (11-6, 1-4).
"We challenged them, but we never really threatened them," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Kentucky is a great team and they play really well together."
Freshman guard Malik Monk scored 24 points to lead Kentucky. He made 8 of 12 field goals. Freshman Bam Adebayo followed with 15 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Mychal Mulder came off the bench for 12 points. Sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe added 10 and freshman Wenyen Gabriel had a career-best 16 rebounds.
Freshman guard De'Aaron Fox added 13 points, four rebounds and five assists but fouled out with 7:24 to play. But after his exit, Mulder scored seven of Kentucky's nine points to keep the Wildcats on top.
While he was happy with the victory, Kentucky coach John Calipari was not pleased with how his team played.
"What bothered me in the second half, as they made their run, I had to make a call every time down the floor. That's not how you want to coach," Calipari said. "You're not going to be that team, if you have to -- and if I have to do that, I will. But at some point, this team's got to be empowered, and they are just not ready."
It is an issue Calipari has discussed often, but wants to see remedied soon.
"What I don't want to have to do is battle, me battling my team to play more disciplined, to do all the things we're working on and talking about in practice, and in the games, let's do them for 40 minutes. Let's see how good we are."
Auburn got 23 points from senior guard T.J. Dunans. Freshman guard Mustapha Heron added 11.
Kentucky shot 57.1 percent from the field, including 57.9 percent from 3-point range. Auburn finished at 46.8 percent and 56.3 from 3-point line. It was the first time this season the Wildcats and their opponent both made more than nine 3-pointers.
Trailing 51-39 at halftime, Auburn mounted a furious rally behind 10 straight points from Dunans that made it 60-56 with just over 12 minutes left. But Briscoe scored five straight points to push UK back on top 65-56 with 11:15 to go and UK was never threatened again.
Kentucky surged ahead for the first time with 15 minutes left to play in the first half thanks to a 10-0 run that grew to 17-5 before Auburn was forced to call timeout with UK on top 27-18.
Fox and Isaac Humphries paced the run with four points each. Gabriel, Monk and Briscoe each added a 3-pointer.
By halftime, Kentucky led 51-39 behind 12 points from Monk and 11 from Fox. The Wildcats shot 58.1 percent, including a whopping 66.7 percent from 3-point range on 8 of 12.
Auburn got nine points from Lang, eight from Dunans and seven from Harper. The Tigers made 50 percent of their first half field goals, including 57.1 percent from 3-point range on 4-of-7.
NOTES: Saturday's game marked the debut of Kentucky's newest player, freshman Hamidou Diallo. The nation's top rated shooting guard in the Class of 2017 enrolled at UK for the spring semester. He will dress, but is not expected to play this year, coach John Calipari said. ... For the second straight game, Auburn was without second leading scorer Danjel Purifoy, who is recovering from a sprained ankle. ... If Malik Monk maintains his 21.7 points per game average, he would become the highest season scorer ever for a Calipari-coached Kentucky team.