BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team battled its way back from a double digit deficit midway through the second half and carried a three-point lead into the closing minutes before top-ranked Kentucky rallied to score the last five points to secure a hard-fought 71-69 decision in-front of a raucous 13,997 fans on Tuesday evening at the Maravich Center.

The setback moved LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC) to sixth place in the SEC standings, while Kentucky (24-0, 11-0 SEC) has won 46 of its last 48 games as the Associated Press’ top-ranked team.

The 13,997 paid attendance is a record in the current Maravich Center seating configuration dating back to the 2005-06 season.

Jarell Martin racked up 21 points and 11 rebounds to collect his 10th double-double on the season. He was 8-of-11 from the floor and put forth a 5-for-7 effort at the free throw line. Martin has reached double figures in eight of his last nine games.

Keith Hornsby dialed up 17 points on a 7-for-14 shooting clip aided by a pair of three-pointers. He ran his streak to seven straight games with 10-plus points.

Jordan Mickey tacked on 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. He extended his run to 10 consecutive games in double figures and notched 10 of his 16 points during the second half.

Tim Quarterman distributed a game-leading seven assists whereas Josh Gray provided seven points, four rebounds and two assists to highlight LSU’s bench. 

The Wildcats had four players come away with double figures fueled by Willie Cauley-Stein, who registered 11 of his 15 points in the second half. He posted a 7-for-9 shooting effort. Devin Booker secured 14 points to spark UK’s bench, while Karl-Anthony Towns picked up 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Kentucky grabbed its largest lead at 58-45 on an Andrew Harrison trey with 12:46 remaining in the second half.

The Tigers put forth a tremendous rally and reeled off 21 of the next 23 points over the next 4:54. LSU’s flurry was capped by 16 consecutive points which vaulted the Tigers to a 66-60 lead at the 7:29 mark.

Gray ignited the charge with a three-ball from the top of the key. Then, Gray found Quarterman for a reverse layup in transition to pull LSU within single digits, 58-50, with 12:23 to go.

After a Cauley-Stein dunk, Gray fed Mickey for a layup on a high-low play. Hornsby hit on 1-of-2 free throws on a technical foul issued to UK’s Towns for hanging on the rim on a dunk attempt. On LSU’s next possession, Hornsby buried a triple followed by a Martin second-chance layup in traffic to make it 60-58 with 9:41 left.

Mickey knocked down the game-tying free throws, and Gray connected on a putback layup to give the Tigers a 62-60 edge with 8:20 remaining. Hornsby completed the 16-point run with back-to-back layups to extend the LSU advantage to 66-60 at the 7:29 mark.  

Mickey’s driving layup put the Tigers up 69-66 with 3:52 to go. It was LSU’s final basket of the game as the Tigers carried the three-point advantage into the last media timeout.

Kentucky inched closer on a pair of Andrew Harrison’s free throws. Towns sank the go-ahead field goal on a contested 12-foot jump hook in the lane over Martin to place the Wildcats ahead 70-69 with 90 seconds left.

LSU was called for shot clock violation inside the closing minute, and Kentucky received offensive rebound by Towns on its next possession. With the shot clock turned off, the Tigers were forced to foul Booker who split his free throws bring the score to 71-69 with 14.8 seconds on the clock.

LSU’s final chance to extend the game came off an inbounds play with 6.6 seconds. Hornsby attempted the game-winning trey from the left wing, but the ball bounced off the rim. Mickey was unable to corral the rebound as the buzzer sounded.

LSU came out firing on all cylinders during the opening five minutes of the contest. Martin and Mickey pumped in 12 of the team’s 14 points and were a combined 5-of-6 from the floor as the Tigers surged out to a 14-6 lead at the 14:35 mark.

LSU maintained its lead for a majority of the stanza, but Kentucky put together 15 of the last 21 points over the final 6:51 to take a 38-34 edge going into the locker room. Booker garnered nine of his 14 points to lead the Wildcats during the first half.

Up next, LSU travels to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT from Thompson-Boling Arena, and the game will be televised by the SEC Network. The telecast also will be available on http://www.watchespn.com/ and the Watch ESPN app.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on its flagship station Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area and for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.

For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball along with @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJones on Twitter and @LSUBasketball on Instagram.

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening Statement …
“I thought our guys did a great job of coming out tonight. I thought our crowd did a great job of energizing us and getting us off to a great start; (going ahead) 10-2. Then, Kentucky, being the team that they are and how they have battled all year long, did a great job of composing themselves. They made a run of their own and got back into the game. I thought throughout the first half, our guys did a tremendous job of playing tough offensively. They were really gritty on the defensive end to get the stops while battling a tough basketball team. In the second half, Kentucky did a great job of coming out…they made a run. I thought our guys withstood that effort. They did a tremendous job of having a certain intensity level to fight back and regain the lead against a tough team down the stretch with about three or four minutes left in the game. We put ourselves in the position to possibly win a basketball game. I thought Kentucky did a great job of getting on the offensive glass late, which was what they needed. They got some timely offensive rebounds. Kentucky made some plays down there, which I thought eventually hurt us. They did a good job on the defensive end of getting stops, playing big with no driving lanes and getting the turnovers they needed there late in the game. I thought we had a shot there late to win it (with Keith Hornsby‘s three-point attempt). We had a look at it. Unfortunately, it didn’t go down. I am really proud of our guys for the effort that they gave tonight.”

On Josh Gray playing more minutes in the second half  …
“I thought Josh did a good job on the ball defending. I thought he was under control. He made some plays offensively, and I thought he did a good job of putting pressure on the point guard defensively.”

On what LSU did well with tonight …
“It’s tough to play a flawless game and a mistake-free game. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of making a lot of plays throughout the game. Kentucky came out and at one point they were shooting about 70 percent in the second half. Our defense was able to turn it up and put more pressure on them. We switched it up and put Jarell (Martin) on (Karl-Anthony) Towns and made it a little bit tougher for him to score, so he didn’t have easy outs there towards the basket. Offensively, I thought we did a good job of pushing the ball and scoring in our break early and not setting it up. Once you set your offense up, they’re pretty good at switching. So, we had to get a few things in the fast break early and some more opportunities.”

On whether he believes in moral victories and what he took from the hard-fought setback …
“No. I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought they showed that we can come out and play with that kind of intensity level throughout the game against the number one team in the country, a team sitting at 23-0 (now 24-0). We’ve battled through some tough games this year and put ourselves in position to have a shot to win it late. If you play that way throughout, then some good things can happen for you. We’re constantly growing, and I feel like we took some positive steps tonight. Unfortunately, we just came up a little bit short on the scoreboard.”

On having played in tough games throughout the season …
“All of them are really important. Each of them has their own merit of importance, and our next one against Tennessee is a huge one for us. It’s on the road and the next opportunity against a really good basketball team to go out there and challenge. So, for us to get to where we’re trying to go, we need to make sure that we win our share of those games.”

LSU FORWARD JARELL MARTIN

On how tough it was to score against their defense…
“It was tough. They came out playing real aggressive. They were super physical. It was a hard fought battle out there tonight. “

On if their depth was challenging down the stretch … 
“We give credit to our strength and conditioning coach tonight. He made sure that we were in shape to play in these type of moments.”

On his thoughts about the style of play tonight…
“We were trading baskets the whole night, and we definitely wanted to get some more stops. They went on their run in the second half. We were able to come back and never give up.”

LSU GUARD KEITH HORNSBY

On the play call at the end of the game…
“The first look was inside. The second look was a outside shot and what happened just happened.”

On the game’s final shot…
“The guy was all over me, but I got the shot off. It looked on-line. It just didn’t fall.“

On how physical their defense was…
“They’re a great defensive team. They are so lengthy and so long. With that said, I thought we got some good looks, and it shows well for the upcoming games. “

On the team’s play in the second half …
“That is what makes this loss so much more disappointing. We had a lead too, and they made some good plays when it counted. We didn’t seize the moment.”

 

UK HEAD COACH JOHN CALIPARI

On if he had seen a game changing play like the technical foul on Karl-Anthony Towns…
“Well that and the fact that I refused to call timeout. My staff called timeout…Nope. No timeouts this time. They’re going to learn their lesson on this. We’re not losing in March because of a play like that. For no reason? You’re out of your mind, figure it out. Thank goodness I didn’t because we needed those timeouts down the stretch, but the other thing I’m proud of Karl is he came back and he grew up. Big rebound, big steal, big basket. (He) won the game. Now I doubt ever in his life will he chin up on a basket ever again, but that’s why I looked like an idiot on the sideline. That’s why I refused to call timeout and make these guys do it. I even said ‘I hope we lose. (Y’all) watch this.’ Then it was basket, basket, basket, and then he sunk in his chair.”

On the play of Devin Booker…
“Devin played well. Andrew (Harrison), Devin and those guys kept us in the game. How were we up at halftime? Then, you saw the game going the way we wanted. Then, he (Karl-Anthony Towns) grabbed the rim. I mean, what did you just do? Again, what’s the big deal? I know how good he is. This kid is really, really good. There may be other guys who are really good, (but) I like my big guy.”

On Andrew Harrison responding after he threatened to take him out of the game…
“I just said, ‘You’re not playing that way. I refuse to let you look that way. You will attack or you’re coming out.’ Then, you watched him. He was as good as any guard in the country with the way he played today and the way he attacked. He didn’t play that way, but I’m going to say this: It’s really hard. You have to go, and you have to be on top. You got to be alert, and you got to be in shape… He was great.

On if Willie Cauley-Stein’s dunking ability was indicative of more assertive play tonight…
“That’s who he is. Be who you are. Go play, man. Get off the floor, block shots and do what you do. I’m trying to tell all of these kids: there’s nothing holding you back. I don’t hold you back…I want you to perform and play. We’ll take the results, and let’s see how good we can be. We weren’t as good defensively today, but then again they (LSU) were pretty good.” 

KENTUCKY FORWARD KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

On tonight’s win over LSU…
“My brothers came behind me and said ‘We are going to get this W’. We are going to do what we have to do to win. We did a great job of coming back and fighting. I can’t be more proud.”

On his technical foul in the second half…
“I couldn’t believe it. It was a momentum changer. I can’t be doing that.”

On what he was able to contribute…
“I had to let that play go. The biggest thing I was worried about was getting this W. I just had to put my body on the line and do anything I could to get this win. I am glad I was able to come down with the rebound and give my team what they needed.  During moments like that, you think about your brothers and how much they’ve given you. You have to give everything back. I was more happy to repay my brothers efforts.”

KENTUCKY FORWARD WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

On LSU’s 16-0 run in the second half…
“You didn’t even realize it. It was just chip, chip and chip. The way we play, you aren’t worried about what other teams are doing. They could be making plays, and you don’t even realize they are making plays. We just have to stay with what we are doing. If we stay with what we are doing, we end up winning the game. You stay solid. Once you have a couple of breakdowns that is your lesson. You can’t have any more breakdowns. Toward the end, our breakdowns are cut. Then, you can make up for it. You can scramble, and you can switch. It is bear to score on us in that situation.”

On tonight’s crowd and atmosphere…
“That is what you sign up for when you come to Kentucky. They tell you that when they are in your home visiting you, it’s going to be a sell-out every night. It’s going to be a gold-out, a black-out or a white-out every night. Everyone is going to have t-shirts. That’s what it is when you sign up to play here. It’s good for us.”

On Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey‘s performance tonight…
“They are good players. This is the SEC. It’s going to be tough. You know that coming into the game. They are two of the best in the SEC. It is a challenge for us every time we step on the floor. There is going to be a person always coming at you. (Jarell) Martin played a really good game. That’s what we like to see. It challenges us to battle. It’s fun for us to play. It’s just going to help us in the end.”