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Controversial finish gives LSU 73-71 comeback win over UK

Kentucky fans signal for the officials not to count the final goal, but they did and UK lost 73-71. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky just let LSU stay in the game and it cost the Cats dearly in the end.

A controversial tip-in by Kqvell Bigby-Williams just before time expired gave LSU a 73-71 comeback win over UK — the Cats’ first loss in Rupp Arena this season and only their second in SEC play.

Kentucky struggled the second half after taking a 40-32 halftime lead and was just 11-for-30 from the field. LSU also outhustled Kentucky at times for easy baskets, including the final play after Keldon Johnson tied the game with two free throws at :06.

Bigby-Williams clearly hit the ball while it was in the cylinder after Skylar Mays missed a contested driving shot. However, basket interference is not a call that can be reviewed and he clearly beat the final horn to give LSU the victory.

“We were obviously fortunate there at the end,” LSU coach Will Wade said.

He said the final play was intended for Mays to take the ball to the rim — “He loves to drive left and we knew they would take Tremont (Waters) out of the play,” Wade said — and hope to get a play like they got to win.

“The second half we played a lot better. The first half we were not ourselves and were on our heels. The second half we were able to guard them and drive in the lane and get fouled and do what we do,” Wade said. “I am really proud of our guys. We were able to kind of hang tight and pull out a good win.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari was not nearly as distraught after the game as most UK fans were. He said he had not seen the final play.

“You have to judge yourself. I have not looked at it,” Calipari said. “You hate for it to come down to the last play but it happens. The last play was questionable but it should not take away from what LSU did. They beat us.”

They did it with star guard Tremont Waters going just 5-for-13 from the field — but 8-for-8 at the foul line — and getting just 15 points — 9 below his average. But the Tigers had three other players in double figures and went to war on the boards the second half.

Kentucky got 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds from PJ Washington but he played just 27 minutes because Calipari was not happy with his effort at times and he also got in foul trouble midway of the second half. Keldon Johnson had 16 points and Travis Herro 12 but Herro was just 5-for-12 from the field and did not get to the foul line.

“LSU came in and made shots and rebounded offensively like they did, they deserved to win,” Calipari said. “I love how our kids fought and put us back in position to win the game.

“There were some rebounds late that we had to get and we just couldn’t get them. You got to give them credit. They played. Neither one of us turned the ball over much. We missed a bunch of shots the second half we needed to make to keep them at bay.”

11 comments

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  1. The game didn’t really come down to the final shot. We got out-played and out-coached 2nd half again. Hey Cal….you can’t expect to be a Final 4 contender when you can’t win both halves of a game, and I think this was 4 of last 5 that this has happened. They beat us at the FT line and scored at will at the basket and we couldn’t do anything inside again. We are setting up for a sweep in Lexington this week. Other than PJ, we really didn’t have anyone step up. Hagans is in decline both scoring and steals last couple of games, Quicks hasn’t been much of an offensive threat for most of season, Baker hasn’t made the most of his limited minutes, and Travis has been underwhelming offensively for most of the season. EJ starting to play a little better but still not where he should be for his preseason hype. Then there is Nick…still available for kicking around…oh he did get in 1 minute tonight. I hope he is smart enough to transfer out at end of the year because IMO he is a cancer on the team, and we thought Skal was bad.

  2. This game was lost in the first 10 minutes of the second half. LSU played harder and we coasted with a lead. Hagans could not guard Waters period. Quickley should have played more in the second half because LSU wasn’t guarding Hagans to score. Waters sagged off of him and made steal after steal. We got beat back down the floor too many times. EFFORT. FOCUS. We came up short on both counts, not to mention the missed free throws.

  3. Johnson missing free throws and not playing aggressive really hurt tonight. Quickley, just can’t shoot in games like he should. Looks like he is pressing because he is a much better shooter than he has shown. Travis really hurt us with that 3 he tried when we didn’t need him taking it at that point in the game. I am really disappointed in Travis because he should at least be able to make layups.
    Tonight, they got outplayed because they thought they could coast. Hope they can learn from this because this lose could really end up helping in the long run.

  4. OF…..I don’t see anything positive coming out of this loss because we have a few guys that have been fading lately and couple that we really haven’t been able to count on all year. We have been unable to make shots in close all year and don’t see that improving if hasn’t already, and we don’t seem to be able to defend the rim without fouling.

  5. Congratulations are in order for Lousyville. Had a 23 point lead over Duke in the second half AND LOSE!!!! Go TARDS!!!!

  6. I think UK is a Sweet 16 type team (good but certainly not great) and the foreseeable future doesn’t look any better.
    Does gold tarnish?

  7. Effort and focus will go a long way in curing what ails this team. LSU simply played harder in the second half. PJ went into cruise mode and stopped battling for position, started reaching and jumping over guys and got in foul trouble. Reid shot an airball 3 when he didn’t have to. Ashton refused to drive to the basket to score…most of Waters steals came from playing the pass and backing off of Hagans as he clearly was not a threat. What was Keldon thinking on that last defensive play? He got turned around in no man’s land and was out of position for the drive. PJ AND EJ both went after the block that never happened leaving the basket open for the putback. Naz Reid hits 2 standstill 3 pointers…never moved. Again, PJ got lazy and did not cover. Finally, Keldon was not focused at the free throw line. Sure he made the last 2, but missed 3 others that would have been the difference. EFFORT and FOCUS…mental breakdowns at key times. Both will have to get better come Saturday.

  8. Here we go again the naysayer keep repeating themselves on this post. If I remember you guys had this team to lose 10 games after the season started and now you guys get bent of shape over the losslast night. A one game doesn’t define the season there’s a lot of basketball left and I like this team chances of going deep . Like Jimmy V said never give up. Go Cats!

  9. It was a hard fought game, and LSU deserves credit. Bad call at the end, but that is not what beat UK last night IMO. UK blew a lead, and it was poor shooting and better point guard play from LSU that carried the day for the Tigers. Mike is right about some things, and one is, there are a couple on this UK team that need to start producing around the rim in both scoring and defense. The biggest thing is UK’s outside shooting must improve big time for them to be a real contender. Hagan’s is in a big slump scoring wise and it hurt his team bad last night. Also, he could not drive to the rim due to solid defense by LSU. I might add that UK don’t get many controversial calls that go their way from these officials. I sometimes feel that is by design if the game is close.

  10. I do agree with you guys that LSU out play us. But that game doesn’t mean were in trouble of not going deep in March madness and yes we need to do things better if we going to get far. It seems to me we play better on the road than at home just my opinion,

  11. Just go beat UT Sat Cats and shake up the SEC. That would cure a a lot of ills.

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