AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Gerald Fitch and Kentucky continue to show mental toughness on the road.
Fitch scored 18 points and Cliff Hawkins added some key plays down the stretch as No. 9 Kentucky notched another Southeastern Conference road victory, 68-59 over Auburn.
Kentucky (19-4, 9-3 SEC East) improved to 4-2 in SEC road games by taking control in crunch time once again. Kelenna Azubuike nailed a tie-breaking 3-pointer for a 52-49 edge with 6:23 left and the Wildcats never surrendered the lead.
Auburn (13-10, 4-8 West) cut its deficit to 55-53 on Brandon Robinson's foul shot with 4:09 to go. But Hawkins and Fitch combined on a series of plays that allowed the Wildcats to prevail.
Hawkins used a nifty behind-the-back dribble to free himself for a shot in the lane, Fitch added a basket and Hawkins made two free throws for an eight-point lead. Robinson countered with a basket before Hawkins drove and found an open Fitch for a 3-pointer and a 64-55 bulge with less than a minute to go.
"I think it is good that I can run down the floor and see things setting up," Hawkins said. "It is good that I am able to set up the offense and see the open guys. I just want to do what I can to help the offense."
Fitch missed three games with a right finger injury before returning to action and looking sluggish in Wednesday's win over Arkansas. Still not ready to be back in the starting lineup, Fitch looked more comfortable and made 4-of-8 shots and 7-of-8 at the line.
"My hand was hurting me the entire game," Fitch said. "The pain was there, but I knew that I had to get in the game and make some plays."
The Tigers made just 2-of-10 shots in the final four minutes and suffered their 19th loss in the last 20 meetings with the Wildcats.
"Once we were down, we lost our composure and confidence," Robinson said. "As a team, we didn't play badly. We lost our focus in the second half."
Auburn led by as eight points in a tightly-contested first half and settled for a 34-33 edge after leading most of the way. Fitch's 13 first-half points and contributions from unheralded reserves Sheray Thomas and Bobby Perry kept the Wildcats close.
"Overall, this was a good win for us although we battled with a slow start," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We had some quality minutes from the bench which helped us out a lot and kept our starters rested."
With Chuck Hayes finding the going rough inside, Erik Daniels picked up the slack and finished with 15 points. Hawkins added eight of his 10 points after halftime.
Ian Young led Auburn with 13 points and Robinson and Quinnel Brown each chipped in 10. Center Kyle Davis got into foul trouble and saw only 16 minutes.
Kentucky has won 15 straight against SEC West opponents, including a 5-0 mark this season.