The Kentucky Wildcats looked as they though they would cruise over the LSU Tigers at halftime, but you just knew that wouldn’t be the case.
The Wildcats, led by Alex Poythress’ 20 points and 12 rebounds, escaped another SEC loss by defeating the LSU Tigers 75-70 in front of 24.248 in Rupp Arena.
The win didn’t come without controversy, as Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel was mistakenly on the court with 3.9 seconds left and Kentucky clinging to a 71-70 lead. Assistant coach Jon Robic grabbed Noel and put him on the bench before the ball was handed to the inbounder to make a pass to Kyle Wiltjer who was fouled with 3.1 seconds left in the game. LSU head coach Johnny Jones asked the officials about the play. In what seemed like an eternity, the officials discussed the situation and finally decided that Noel was pulled off the court before the ball was inbounded. Wiltjer, who was seemingly iced, still drilled both free throws to make the score 73-70.
When Johnson was asked about Noel was on the floor, he thought it was a violation. “That’s what it looked like. I thought that was what was going on. I wasn’t sure and we just wanted to ask the refs if there was anyway possible (to review). I thought the back ref had an opportunity to see. They were trying to get off the floor at the time that I thought the ball was in play but it didn’t happen. We’d had ample opportunities prior to that to make some plays so I don’t think that was the game changer there.”
On the next play, LSU threw their inbounds pass to former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey and he was looking to drive straight to the three point line to try and tie the game. Archie Goodwin grabbed Hickey before he could get a shot off, which meant Hickey had to shoot the bonus. The former Christian County star missed the front end of the one and one and the game was history.
John Calipari spoke about the decision to foul Hickey, “There ain’t no question he would have banked it and that three would have gone in. So that’s why I decided to do that. But the kids executed, Archie (Goodwin) had a good foul and we rebounded the last one.”
The Wildcats were lucky to get out of the game with a victory, and you could definitely sense a sigh of relief from John Calipari.
“So we are working on it, and slowly, we are working on it, and it’s nice to walk out of here with a win. It would have been an ugly L, we gave, just like every other game, we are giving people a chance to beat us.
But we should be grasping the game, but that’s who we are and that means I’ve got to come up with foul this guy before he shoots a three; stuff I don’t like to do, we are going to have to do. Because, again, I’d like to say, some of the games we have coming up, I hope they are close, too, because we have got some tough games coming up.”
Louisiana State at Kentucky
Men’s Basketball Post-Game Notes
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., January 26, 2013
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 75, LSU 70
Team Records and Series Notes
Kentucky is 13-6 overall, 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU is 10-7 overall, 1-5 in the league.
Kentucky leads the series 83-24, including 41-5 in Lexington.
Kentucky hits the road for a pair of away games, Tuesday at Ole Miss (9 p.m. EST on ESPN) and Saturday at Texas A&M.
Kentucky started with the lineup of Ryan Harrow, Julius Mays, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel for the fifth time this season. UK is 4-1 with this lineup.
Trailing 5-2, Kentucky went on a 14-2 run for a 16-7 lead. UK never trailed again.
UK increased its lead to as many as 15 points at 40-25 before settling for a 42-31 advantage at intermission.
Trailing 65-54, LSU went on a 9-1 run to cut the lead to 66-63.
LSU’s Anthony Hickey made a three with a minute remaining to cut it to 70-68.
Fouled with 30 seconds left, Julius Mays made the first of two foul shots to make it 71-68.
LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant tallied a put-back with four seconds left to make it 71-70.
Kyle Wiltjer was fouled with three seconds left and made both for a 73-70 score.
UK fouled Hickey with two seconds on the clock but he missed a 1-and-1. Poythress collected the rebound, was fouled, and hit two foul shots for a 75-70 final score.
UK shot 51.9 percent from the field. The Wildcats are now 7-0 this season when making at least half their shots.
Kentucky won the rebounding 39-26, the third-straight game that the Wildcats have led the rebounding by double digits.
Archie Goodwin tallied 15 points
His 15th double-figure scoring game of the season.
Ryan Harrow netted 11 points, his ninth double-figure game in 10 starting assignments.
Averaging 13.8 points per game as a starter.
Julius Mays scored nine points and added four rebounds.
Has made a 3-pointer in eight-straight games, including at least two 3-pointers in the last five games.
Nerlens Noel totaled 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
Has at least six rebounds in every game this season.
Has blocked at least one shot in every game this season and at least two rejections in 12-straight games.
Noel now has 82 blocks and already ranks second on the UK freshman single-season list and fourth on the UK single-season list.
Has made 50 of 73 shots (68.5 percent) in the last 12 games.
Alex Poythress amassed 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, his first UK double-double.
His fifth 20-point game of the season, his first since four-straight November games with 20 or more points.
Has gathered at least five rebounds in nine-straight games.
Kyle Wiltjer had eight points and three rebounds.
Has averaged 14 points over the last four games.