Lexington, KY – By Rick Blair Sports View America
Only 15 seconds into the game UK’s Ashton Hagans gets a cheap foul while guarding LSU’s star point guard Tremont Waters. It was not a good early sign for the Wildcats.
But as this team has done throughout their 10 game winning streak, they fought through this early adversity and held a 10-9 lead at the first media timeout. This lead was sparked by a couple of baskets by Keldon Johnson.
The UK bench was giving them solid play during the first half. When time was called at 7:34 to go in the half the Wildcats were leading 29-22, thanks in a large part to the bench play of EJ Montgomery who had four points and Immanual Quickley who contributed three points.
LSU momentarily took a 30-29 lead when the Tiger’s Skylar Mays hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, but that basket seemed to inspire the Wildcats and their fans as Kentucky made another run with back to back baskets, the first was by Keldon Johnson and the second by Tyler Herro. The Cats then made another defensive stop and PJ Washington was fouled on the offensive end. Washington made one of two free throws and the Wildcats were back on top 34-30. The Wildcats continued the momentum and finished the last two minutes of the half on a 6-2 run to go into the locker room at the half leading 40-32.
The second half became very physical. During the first half LSU coach Will Wade had argued every call and was given a warning, but not a technical. His berating of the referees seemed to be paying dividends in the second half as the Tigers were the more physical team, but were not being whistled for fouls. When a media timeout was called with 11:32 to go in the game the Wildcats were still clinging to a 52-50 lead, but they were taking a beating on the offensive end by LSU’s defense and the fouls were six against the Wildcats and only three against the Tigers.
LSU would finally take the lead at 58-56 when the Tiger’s Emmitt Williams made a layup on a run out fast break basket with eight minutes to go in the game. It was a lead that LSU would never relinquish. The Wildcats would tie the game three more times before the end of the game, the last time being with six seconds to go. But they would never regain the lead. PJ Washington came up big down the stretch as he would score seven of the Wildcats last nine points.
After Keldon Johnson had tied the game with two free throws to make it 71 all with only six ticks left on the clock. The final scene was set up. LSU’s Skylar Mays would drive the length of the court and try a contested layup, but he missed this attempt and his missed shot was tapped in by the Tiger’s Kavell Bigby-Williams as time expired. It was obvious that Bigby-Williams had committed offensive goal tending on the tap in, but the officials missed the call and the game was over. The Cats had fallen to the Tigers 73-71. It was a disappointing end to a good game.
Kentucky was led in scoring by PJ Washington who had 20 points and a team high 9 rebounds despite only playing 27 minutes due to foul trouble. Keldon Johnson chipped in 16 points for the Wildcats and Tyler Herro had 12 points and a team high 4 assists.
The loss drops Kentucky to 20-4 on the season and 9-2 in the SEC. The Wildcats will next take on Tennessee in Rupp Arena this Saturday at 8:00pm.