LSU (10-7,1-5) lost to Kentucky (13-6,4-2) by 5 Saturday night in front of a 24,000+ Rupp Arena. With 3.9 seconds left, LSU dropped the lead to 1 on an offensive rebound putback by Johnny O'Bryant, but the Tigers were unable to pull off the upset. O'Bryant ended the night with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists in 39 minutes of action.
A bit of controversy hit the hardwood when Kentucky came out of a timeout with 6 men on the court to break LSU's press with under 5 second remaining. Coach Calipari corralled a player off the court before the referee's were able to see the infraction. If called, LSU would have been given free throws with a chance to tie or take the lead.
LSU went into the half down 11 but were able to claw back on good shooting and taking care of the ball. The Tigers ended the game with 13 assists and only 10 turnovers (2nd lowest of the season), while allowing Kentucky only 7 assists to their 16 turnovers. LSU shot 50% from beyond the arc in the second half and 45% from FG range. Even more important, LSU show 12 of 15 from the free throw line for 80%, including 9 of 11 in the second half.
Unfortunately, the bigger, more athletic Wildcats were able to out-rebound LSU 39-29 and shoot over 60% from inside the arc. Nerlens Noel had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks in 38 minutes of action. Overall, O'Bryant played him tough and was able to score over Noel often. Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-24IMi7y_s8U/UQZ3lrNa9XI/AAAAAAAAAio/oMQNcVxf46w/s640/SoS+post+UK.png
Charles Carmouche had a very nice return to the starting lineup ending with 7 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover, and 3 steals. His 53.88 Adjusted SoS makes him the first Tiger with 10 "Highly Efficient" games (Adj SoS over 45). Andre Stringer had 13 points on 7 shots including 3 of 4 from three point range, and Anthony Hickey had 15 in his return to Kentucky making 4 of 7 from three point range and finishing with 3 steals.
Kentucky was led by Alex Poythress who scored 20 and had 12 rebounds. Ryan Harrow (11) Archie Goodwin (15) and Nerlens Noel (10) also ended in double figure scoring for the Wildcats.
While LSU couldn't pull out the win, they played like a confident team ready to turn their season around. LSU will have another chance to knock off an SEC favorite when #22 Missouri comes to town on Wednesday night. While LSU doesn't have much of a chance to be an NCAA tournament at-large, they should embrace their role as spoiler and continue to work to improve.