Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
LEXINGTON, KY: LSU headed into Rupp Arena on Wednesday night hoping to come away with their second win of the season over Kentucky. The Tigers played a strong first half taking an eight point lead into the locker room at the break, but the 6th ranked Wildcats took care of business in the final 20 minutes, outscoring LSU 48-35 to win 71-66.
The loss was LSU's second in a row as they fall to 19-9 (7-8 SEC).
“It was a tale of two halves, and like the fifth or sixth game where we've given up 40 points in the second half,” coach Will Wade said. “They were very aggressive in the second half and we just didn't match their aggressiveness.”
The Wildcats looked to take charge of the ballgame early as they took a 6-3 lead three minutes into the contest. But the Tigers tied the score at 6-6 when Darius Days hit a three pointer to start a 8-0 run, giving LSU an 11-6 advantage with 15:49 left on the clock.
With LSU leading by two, 15-13 at the 12:15 mark, the Tigers would go on a 12-3 run over the next five minutes to increase their lead to 27-16 with 7:17 left in the first half.
The LSU defense did a solid job of holding off a Kentucky run as the Wildcats struggled to hit from the perimeter while Xavier Pinson's speedy scoring drives to the basket gave Kentucky fits. The Tigers would lead 31-23 at the half.
Only four Tigers scored in the first half. Xavier Pinson led the team with 16 points. Darius Days scored 8 points. Tari Eason finished with 5 points and Efton Reid added 2 points on a nice dunk.
LSU shot 11-28 from the floor for 39%, holding Kentucky to 33%, 8-24... The two big stats of the first half was LSU going 5-10 from behind the three point arc for 50% while the Cats went 0-5. The Tigers also finished 4-5 from the free throw line for 80% while Kentucky hit 7-11 for 64%.
Both teams played even over the first three minutes as LSU maintained their 8 point lead, 36-28 before Kentucky would go on a 11-0 run to take a 39-36 lead at the 15:33 mark.
The Wildcats increased their lead to 47-40 with 11:07 to go, as Kentucky seemed to sink every shot they put up while LSU only hit one of their last 11 attempts.
Kentucky simply outplayed LSU for most of the second half. After the Tigers pulled to within five, 53-48, the Wildcats would go on a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 62-50 with only 3:15 left in the game. However, LSU still had one last run left in them as they would score seven straight cutting the Kentucky lead to four, 68-64 with 34 seconds left. But the Tigers didn't have enough fuel in the tank as the Wildcats took care of business at the free throw line to clinch a 71-66 win.
Xavier Pinson led the Tigers with 26 points. Eric Gaines came off the bench in the second half and played well scoring 11 points. Darius Days struggled to score as he finished with 10 points. Tari Eason had an off night on both ends of the court as he could only manage 5 total points while fouling out of the game with 9:42 to go.
The Tigers will return home on Saturday to play Missouri in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 7:30pm CT. The game will be televised on SEC Network.