Despite out rebounding LSU by 13, and holding them to 39% shooting while shooting 52%, Kentucky (13-6, 4-2) nearly suffered a devastating blow to its NCAA tournament hopes Saturday in Rupp Arena. After leading by as many as 15 in the first half, and 9 at halftime, LSU stormed back to cut the deficit to 1 with 3.9 seconds left, 71-70. UK was able to hit four free throws at that point, two each by by Kyle Witljer and Alex Poythress, to close out the win and avoid UK’s second straight conference loss 75-70. Poythress played his best game as a Cat, with 20 points and 12 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Archie Goodwin (15) Ryan Harrow (11) and Nerlens Noel (10). Noel also added 8 rebounds and 6 blocks in a solid all-around performance that is quickly becoming the norm for the freshman forward. LSU’s (10-7, 1-5) Johnny O’Bryant III led all scorers with 21 points to go with 12 rebounds, and was joined by guards Anthony Hickey (15) and Andre Stringer (13) in double figures.
If the Cats were looking ahead, it’s understandable. LSU only won its first SEC game earlier this week and has now lost 15 straight against Kentucky. In addition, UK has a huge road test coming up Tuesday night against Ole Miss in Oxford. One of the few SEC teams thought to be safely in the tournament; Ole Miss is ranked #21 and undefeated in SEC play (6-0). Most pundits agree that UK still doesn’t have the all-important “signature win” on its tournament resume and the SEC offers few opportunities to pick one up. In fact, of UK’s last 12 games, only 4 come against teams currently in the top 25. Three of those are on the road, with the only home game coming against Florida, which might be the hottest team in the country. UK could do a lot for its tournament resume, and the cardiac health of Big Blue Nation, with a win Tuesday night.
Photo: Flickr/Triple Tri
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