By: Tyrus York – The first time Kentucky and LSU met was on an icy evening in Baton Rouge. The Cats lost convincingly, although only by 5 points to a Tigers team that looked like a true contender for the SEC.
Much has happened since then, and there weren’t too many people giving LSU a chance when they came to Rupp Arena on Saturday to attempt to beat Kentucky for a second time.
- Coach Cal 1 Press Conference
- Coach Cal 2 Press Conference
- Coach Cal 3 Press Conference
- Coach Cal 4 Press Conference
What followed was an epic battle between two teams quite possibly playing their best basketball. LSU (16-10, 7-7) had Kentucky on the ropes throughout, but would fall short in overtime 77-76 thanks to a last second put-back by Julius Randle.
#18/16 Kentucky (21-6, 11-3) again has shown that their game is rounding out. The stereotypes this team acquired halfway through the season seem to be going away.
Andrew Harrison broke the stereotype that they were a bad foul shooting team when he swished 2 straight free throws to send the game into overtime.
The “lack of effort down the stretch” stereotype was broken when Julius Randle, despite only going 3-8 from the field, fought hard for an offensive rebound and a put back to win the game.
When a team can break those stereotypes, they are growing up in front of our eyes.
Aaron Harrison was the star on the stat sheet for the Cats, going for 21 points and 4 rebounds. His drives to the basket were at times the only offense Kentucky could get going. He was also perfect on the foul line hitting 7-7 from the stripe.
His twin brother Andrew only had 9 points, but none were bigger than the 2 points from the foul line to send it to overtime. Before you get down on the point guard, you should also know that the 6 rebounds and 4 assists were what impressed his coach the most.
Julius Randle struggled mightily, again, to score against LSU (only 4 points in Baton Rouge). However he got it done on the glass, officially getting 15 rebounds, 16 if you count the offensive rebound at the end of the game a rebound despite official stats saying it wasn’t.
James Young showed his offensive prowess going for 20 points despite only hitting 1 three pointer for the game. He and the Harrisons were excellent getting to the rim late in the game to keep Kentucky in it.
Johnny O’Bryant for LSU is unquestionably one of the best players in the country and he proved it again against the Cats Saturday. His 20 points and 12 rebounds were big time, but he was slowed significantly down the stretch by a much more aggressive Willie Cauley-Stein (7 points, 6 rebounds).
Former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey contributed 20 points of his own for the Tigers before fouling out in overtime. He made several bombs from 3 point land that nearly stole the game for LSU.
Kentucky overcame poor 3 point shooting (1 of 9 with James Young making the only 3) to get a tough win that will prove very helpful when tournament seeding comes around. LSU on the other hand will have some work to do if they want to be considered an NCAA tourney team.
Kentucky will try to avenge one more loss on Thursday when Arkansas comes to town. They fell to Razorbacks in Kentucky’s only other overtime game back on January 14th. That game will tip off at 7 pm on ESPN/ESPN2.