The Tigers came very close to earning back-to-back monumental wins, but they came up just short of becoming the first team to knock off Kentucky in Lexington in nearly two years as the Wildcats prevailed 74-71 at Rupp Arena.
LSU falls to 12-2 (1-1 SEC) in Matt McMahon’s debut season with the loss.
The first half of this one seemed to be setting up for an exciting finish. Both teams shot above 50% in the first half as Kentucky took a slim 42-38 lead to the locker room. However, coach John Calipari’s team took control to start the second, stretching out a 60-50 lead with 10:42 to play.
But as LSU has been wont to do all year, UK couldn’t pull away. The Tigers cut into that lead, cutting it down to one point at several times in the final minutes. Kentucky seemed to put it away with a bucket to go up four with 29 seconds to play, but a fortuitous foul on a three point shot gave Cam Hayes a big opportunity at the line.
He took advantage, hitting all three shots, and after fouling Kentucky and sending Jacob Toppin to the line, the Tigers had the ball down three with three seconds left. However, a poor play that resulted in KJ Williams taking the game-tying three-point shot was doomed from the start as Kentucky escaped with a win.
Despite the miss on a tough shot at the end, it was still a good game from Williams, who finished with a team-high 23 points. Adam Miller (15 points), Trae Hannibal (12) and Hayes (11) all scored in double figures, as well.
However, LSU ultimately couldn’t do enough defensively. It was dominated by Oscar Tshiebwe, one of the best players in college basketball, who scored 19 points with 16 rebounds. Toppin, meanwhile, led the team with 21 points.
It was a disappointing result that could have been momentous for this program in McMahon’s first year, but the Tigers won’t have much time to reflect on it as they have another tricky road game at Texas A&M on Saturday night.
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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire