BATON ROUGE — The LSU Tigers hung tough for a half but No. 10 Kentucky proved to be too good as the Wildcats held off a late rally in the second half to defeat the Tigers 79-76 inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night.
With the defeat, LSU falls to 18-8 and 9-4 in Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers have now also have lost four of their last five contests.
How It Happened:
The first half was a back-and-forth contest as neither team was able to pull away in the low-scoring first 20 minutes as the largest lead for either team was a mere four points.
For the first half, Kentucky shot 31.6 percent while LSU shot only 31.3 percent.
Charles Manning Jr. gave a spark for the Tigers in the first half. His corner three-pointer with 14:18 left gave LSU an 11-8 lead.
Kentucky, utilized its size advantage down low as the Wildcats recorded eight blocks in the first half, clawed back and took a four-point lead of their own with a three-pointer by Immanuel Quickley with 12:02 left.
LSU retook the lead by having Manning Jr. and Trendon Walford drain three-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
After Skylar Mays hit a pair of free throws, LSU increased its lead to 28-24 with 3:08 left.
The Tigers though were a little sloppy with the basketball and with offensive execution in the final minutes of the half.
The Wildcats not only came back but took a lead into halftime after a three-pointer by Ashton Hagans.
Kentucky led 29-28 at the break.
The Wildcats started the second half strong as they went on an 8-2 run and held a 37-30 lead.
LSU fought back but Kentucky kept answering. After Tyrese Maxey made a contested three with 13:54 left, Kentucky had built its lead back to six points.
A few moments later, Kentucky hit another three — this one by Quickley — and the lead was eight.
A floater by Watford with 7:40 left, LSU had cut the lead down to 58-51.
Kentucky though proved to be too strong in the second half. After Nate Sestina hit his second straight three-pointer, the Wildcats led 67-52 with 5:13 left in the game.
LSU cut the lead down to five after Marlon Taylor hit a three-pointer with 1:24 left but Kentucky answered as EJ Montgomery scores underneath to make it a seven-point game again.
A few moments later, Manning Jr. grabbed a rebound off of a Mays miss and then put up a high shot that went in. That made it 78-74 in favor of Kentucky with 18.9 seconds left.
The late rally wasn’t enough as Kentucky held on for the three-point win.
Big Number: 11
Kentucky’s frontcourt size proved to be a big factor as the Wildcats recorded 11 blocks in the game and prevented the Tigers from attacking the paint.
Player of the Game: Charles Manning Jr.
In a game that didn’t feature a whole lot of offensive output from the Tigers, Manning Jr. came off the bench to provide LSU a spark as he scored 11 points — with nine of that coming on three-pointers.
Next Up: LSU returns to action on Saturday at South Carolina. Tip is set for 5 p.m.