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LSU Wins at Rupp on Bigby-Williams' Tip-In, 73-71

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Men's Basketball at Kentucky - Audio Replay Will Wade Postgame Press Conference - Feb. 12 Men's Basketball at Kentucky - Highlights Box Score +0
LSU Wins at Rupp on Bigby-Williams' Tip-In, 73-71

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – Kavell Bigby-Williams tipped in a missed shot right before the buzzer sounded to give No. 19 LSU a 73-71 win over No. 5 Kentucky Tuesday night at Rupp Arena.

The win was LSU’s sixth win without a loss on the road in league play and just the sixth all-time in Lexington by LSU. The Tigers last won in Rupp in the SEC Championship year of 2009.

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Kentucky had tied the game at 71-71 with less than seven seconds remaining when Keldon Johnson made two free throws.

After the free throws, LSU got the ball on the in-bounds to Skylar Mays, who drove down the left sideline and cut toward the goal. His layup off the glass came off the front of the rim and Bigby-Williams got his hand on the ball for a tip-in as the horn sounded.

The officials reviewed the play and confirmed the bucket was before the buzzer and that time had run out ending the game.

It was another game in which the Tigers had to come from behind, although this time not by double digits as Kentucky led by eight, 40-32, at the half and by nine four times in the second half, the last with 16:49 to play, 48-39.

LSU is now at 20 wins in 24 games and 10-1 in the SEC, in solo second place. Kentucky falls to 20-4 and 9-2 in the league with a home game with No. 1 Tennessee on Saturday looming.

Bigby-Williams had just five points but 2-2 from the field with two blocks, while Tremont Waters led LSU with 15 points, five assists and three steals. Reid and Emmitt Williams had 12 points each and Skylar Mays 11. Javonte Smart had eight points and five assists and Marlon Taylor seven points.

Kentucky was led by PJ Washington with 20 points, while Keldon Johnson had 16 and Tyler Herro 12.

The teams played relatively error free basketball for much of the game, making a combined 17 turnovers with LSU committing four in each half.

The Tigers shot 42.9 percent from the floor (24-56) and 51.7 percent in the second half (15-of-29, 14-of-21 inside the arc). LSU again came up big at the line, making 19-of-22 including 10-of-11 in the second half.

Kentucky shot 41.7 percent for the game (25-of-60), but just 36.7 percent (11-30) in the final 20 minutes. Kentucky was 16-of-23 from the free throw line and just 6-of-9 in the second half.

LSU was down 20-6 in points in the paint, but had 24 in the second half to just 14 for the Wildcats. Kentucky out rebounded LSU, 39-32, for the game.

There were two ties and nine lead changes as the teams were able to play some back and forth basketball in the first five minutes with the game tied at 12. Kentucky then took the lead for the next 11 minutes, building as much as a seven-point lead at 29-22 on a three-pointer by Travis Reid with 8:02 to go in the first half.

But LSU came back for the first time as Smart hit two free throws, Darius Days hit a three and after back-to-back turnovers by the teams and a missed UK field goal, Mays hit a trey to put LSU up briefly at 30-29 with 4:46 left.

The Tigers would get only two free throws the rest of the first half as Kentucky outscored the Tigers 11-2 to go up eight at intermission.

Mays opened the scoring with one-of-two free throws and then Reid scored on a layup to give the Wildcats their first nine-point lead of the game at 42-33 with 18:51 to play. The Tigers would eventually start their comeback, cutting the game to one on a Mays layup and free throw that made it 49-48 UK with 12:34 to play.

LSU would eventually tie the game at 53-53 on free throws by Waters with 9:15 to play and take the lead at 58-56 on a layup by Williams off a Smart pass.

LSU would not be behind the rest of the game although there would be three more ties before the winning Tiger points.

That same combination of Smart passing to Williams would make LSU’s lead four, 60-56, at the 6:40 mark. Kentucky would tie the game at 62-62, before LSU pushed the margin to five, 69-64, on layups by Waters and Reid as the game went inside the final 2:30 of play.

A layup and foul gave Washington a three-point play to cut the margin to two at 69-67 with 1:58 to go and after Reid had a trey ball near the shot clock buzzer go in and out, Washington hit a jumper to tie the game at 69-69 with 1:12 to play.

LSU called timeout and as the game ran under a minute, Waters missed a jumper, Johnson missed for Kentucky, Reid got the rebound and subsequently Reid stole the ball from Reed. Waters was trying to bring the ball in front of the LSU bench to call timeout but Herro fouled him and Waters made both free throws for a 71-69 advantage in the final 20 seconds.

Herro missed a three for UK with 11 seconds left but after Reid got the offensive boards. Taylor fouled him. It was only the sixth foul so Kentucky inbounded the ball under their goal. LSU fouled on the inbounds and Johnson made the two free throws to tie setting up the final play that sent the small LSU contingent into a frenzy.

The Tigers now have to regroup and will go for a seventh straight road win on Saturday at Georgia in a 5 p.m. contest televised by the SEC Network and the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.


FEB. 12, 2019

LSU Head Coach Will Wade

Opening statement …
“Obviously a great win for us. Second half we played a lot better. I didn’t think we were ourselves or very aggressive. In the first half, we were on our heels. Second half, we were able to guard them, get our game plan into effect, driving into the lane, get fouled, kind of do what we’ve been doing to win. I think (in the) first half, Kentucky controlled that a lot more. We were fortunate at the end. The ball goes off the rim and we make a play there at the end. Just a good team win for us. Proud of our guys, we hung in there. We’ve been getting down double digits and we were only down eight or nine tonight, so we were able to hang tight and pull out a good win.

On coming back from a deficit …
“We just got some fight. I told our guys at halftime we just have to be ourselves and we weren’t ourselves, and I thought we just stuck with what we did. We were able to slowly be more of ourselves in the second half. Our guys believe. They know we’ve got a good thing if we just stick to our game plan, stick to what we do, and we got the win tonight.

On defensive game plan …
“We did a better job in the second half. We were chasing those curl cuts in the first half and (Keldon) Johnson and (Tyler) Herro were just killing us, tight curling it in there and hitting shots in the paint. We were supposed to mix it up and didn’t mix it up in the first half, so second half we said we were just going to shoot the gaps and at least make them bump it and make the passes a little bit longer, make them not curl into the lane and shoot layups at the front of the rim. We adjusted it a little bit there. We played a different ball-screen coverage that we’ve played most of the year because of (Ashton) Hagans. It kind of threw us off a little in the first half how much (Immanuel) Quickley played. We weren’t able to get our game plan in because Quickley had played quite a bit more in the first half. We were able to help on those monsters down there.”

On the final play …
“I don’t know the rule specifically, but I think the only thing that’s reviewable is the clock. I don’t think the actual play is reviewable. What they called is what stands. I think the clock is reviewable. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know.”

On how this game ranks in the season …
“It was high up there. The escape job at Missouri was good, but to come on the road and beat a top-five team like this in this type of environment was just phenomenal for us. We knew we had a good team, and we wanted to prove it to ourselves in this type of environment, and I think we were able to do that tonight.”

On whether the late-game foul on Keldon Johnson was intentional …
“Oh, goodness, no. Goodness, no, we didn’t foul him intentionally.”

On what the plan was with the Keldon Johnson foul …
“Well, we just wanted to jet the ball up the court. That’s why we play with two point guards. We knew they were going to take Tremont (Waters) out. Skylar (Mays) loves to drive it left, so we’ve got Skylar going up the left side of the court where he loves to drive it. At that point, we had plenty of time. We just wanted to get the ball in the rim. We got the ball in the rim.”

On how this win changes expectations for LSU …
“I don’t know. We haven’t had time to digest all of that, but we think we’ve got a very, very good team. I think we’re able to prove that tonight. We’ve grown as the season has gone along, just like Kentucky has. They have an excellent team. We’ve gotten better, and I think tonight confirmed that for a lot of folks.”

On Tremont Waters
“I think he played well. He didn’t shoot it as well as he typically does. He had a couple of those threes go three-quarters of the way down and out. They looked like tough shots, but he usually makes those. We were able to withstand it. I thought our guards didn’t shoot great, but Emmitt Williams gave us huge minutes. I thought Kavell Bigby-Williams played great. Naz (Reid) came on in the second. Marlon (Taylor) kept us in it in the first half. They didn’t guard Marlon, which is a little bit different. They had (Keldon) Johnson kind of sagging off in the lane on Marlon. I thought we were able to adjust. Our guys were aggressive. We made enough plays. Skylar (Mays) did a good job driving the ball.”

On what he told the team at halftime …
“This wasn’t quite as “cardiac” as usual for us. We just had to stay with what we were doing. In the first half, we’re down eight and Reid Travis made a three at the top of the key. We just kind of had to stick with what we were doing. He did that in the second half, and he missed one at the top of the key. So, we just had to stick with what we were doing and let the numbers play themselves back out.”

On how he prepared his team to play Kentucky …
“We didn’t talk about that. We just talked about our team this year playing Kentucky’s team this year and what a great opportunity we had. We weren’t going to run from anything, we were going to run to it. You can’t play scared. You can’t play timid. That’s probably what I was most frustrated with in the first half. I thought we were too tentative. We had a great game plan. My assistants had us prepared. Our guys believed they’re really good players. We had a really good shootaround today and a good practice yesterday. I tell our guys all the time, in these situations we’ll be aggressive, confident, and loose. I thought we were aggressive. I thought we were confident. I thought we were loose.”

On how he spreads the court …
“We were trying to put certain guys in ball screens and manipulate the matchups a little bit with what we were doing. It made it a little bit harder because (Darius Days) and (Naz Reid) for us are our stretch fours. They’re the guys who can make threes, but we had to play a lot of the second half with (Emmitt Williams), who can make a three but it’s not his forte, and (Kavell Bigby-Williams). So it changed our matchups a little bit, because we couldn’t spread the court as much. We were able to get downhill and draws some fouls. Emmitt (Williams) did a great job, even though he couldn’t make shots. He did a great job of crashing the offensive glass from the perimeter and making things happen for us. So, we kind of had to recalculate a little bit there.”

#4, Skylar Mays, Jr., G

On what it was like to get such a big win in an environment like Rupp Arena …
“Oh, unbelievable. Especially winning that way in a place with so much prestige. We have a ton of respect for Kentucky. Every team that plays them, you mark that on your calendar. They’re a great team. They gave us all we could handle, and we just happened to come out on top.”

On what this win feels like as a junior on the team …
“This is probably one of the biggest highlights.”

On making adjustments in the second half …
“You know, the goal for us was to get to the rim, but they have a lot of length. A lot of us, we weren’t able to finish as well as we liked, but we just tried to stay the course, stick with our game, and just keep executing.”

On whether they made a statement about being at the top of the SEC alongside Tennessee and Kentucky …
“Yeah, I think you could say that. I don’t think we look at that as much. I think we just look at the next game on the schedule. Obviously, Kentucky is different from a lot of other teams, but we just continue to stay the course. Now, we have to look at film and see what we could have done better this game so we don’t make the same mistakes against Georgia on Saturday.”

#24, Emmitt Williams, Fr., F

On tonight’s win …
“First of all, I want to say shout-out to all the guys on the other team. They played a good game, and I’ve known those guys since high school, and it was amazing to play against them. I know Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington, Nick Richards, all those guys. They played a great game tonight, but LSU came out with the win. Shout-out to (our team), they played hard. It was fun tonight. This was a fun game. No one got hurt, which was the best part of the game. Everyone on my side was happy.”

On emotions from the last play …
“I wasn’t nervous. We’re always in close games. I was thinking, ‘Dang, I hope we don’t go into overtime.’ We’re so used to every game going into overtime, so that’s one thing about us. We’ve got the extra motivation. Our big guy, Kavell Bigby-Williams, we work on (tip-in) drills every day, and as you can see, it finally went through. Everyone came up tonight, and we have a great team.”

On making shots and getting LSU back in the game …
“I try to empty my mind. I try not think about anything but the moment and what we are going through right now, because I shoot almost 100 free throws a day, and there’s no way in heck I should miss two. Every time I go to the (free throw) line, I talk to myself and say, “Emmitt, you shoot 100 of these a day, and you make 100. All you need is to make two.’ I talk to myself, and my teammates come up to me and they help me out, and I just go with the moment.”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. Can you talk about what happened on the last play and what you saw with the shot that won the game?
JOHN CALIPARI: Look, the plays that cost us the game, and again, I don’t want to take anything away from LSU, to come in this building and do what they did down the stretch and make the shots that they made, and basically, rebound the ball offensively against us like they did, they deserve to win the game.

But, that being said, I love that our kids fought and put themselves in a position to win the game. Then it came down to that last play and I mean, you have to judge it yourself, I guess. I haven’t looked at it. I know — I looked at it when it happened but I haven’t looked at it.

Q. As you understand it, do the refs have the opportunity to review judgment calls like that?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, and it’s another one — do you remember we lost in the Final Four when there was a goal, a shot clock violation and they said it was not reviewable and then they changed the rule to say, why would you want to lose a game on a shot clock violation and it’s easy to go check?

Well, this one easy to go check, too. Just go check it. Why would you not — why would that not be reviewable?

So we’re like Wilt Chamberlain; we change rules. I don’t know.

Q. You’ve been saying since the beginning of the year that unless Nick gets his game going, you guys are not going to be able to reach your potential.

Q. It’s the middle of February. Do you still feel that way?

Q. Do you have a Plan B in place?
JOHN CALIPARI: I do. I do. Well again, you know, there were some rebounds late that we had to get, and we just weren’t able to get them. A guy like Nick with his size, you would hope that’s what he could do.

But again, you’ve got to give them credit. They played. I mean, neither one of us turned the ball over that much. I mean, you know, we just didn’t, and we missed a bunch of shots in the second half we needed to make to keep them at bay.

We got work to do. This is a — this game and this week is the toughest week of the season for us. These are the two games that are the tough ones, and I knew that because these guys are talented.

Q. How big was PJ late making those buckets?
JOHN CALIPARI: He gave us a chance. He gave us a chance. But there’s points in the game where you can get the game to 14, 15. You’ve got to play then. You can’t, you know, it’s — if you think you’re going to win the game down the stretch like this as a team, I mean, Ashton (Hagans) didn’t play well today. Didn’t play well at all.

I thought Immanuel (Quickley) played well. Really guarded and did a pretty good job, but Ashton couldn’t stay in front of anybody, so every time they ran downhill, they got whatever they wanted and they were doing it to him.

You know, Tyler (Herro) got beat a bunch on drives. I mean, it’s stuff that we had gotten better at. They shot the ball 32 percent in the first half. They shot it 51 percent in the second half. That’s why you lose. We’re supposed to be a defensive team that rebounds. Well, obviously we weren’t. Give them credit.

Q. We haven’t heard your Communism comment in a little while. Are you comfortable — how comfortable are you with this nine-man rotation going down the stretch?
JOHN CALIPARI: Good. I wish — we need some guys to be more confident. And you could say, well, you’ve got to leave them in. Yeah, but you’ve got to win. And the other side of it is, you know, some of the guys, the situation you’re in is the situation you’re in.

So you’ve got to figure out, how do I go in here and how am I being aggressive and how do I — you know, there’s a thing of missing shots and then there’s missing badly, and there’s a thing about defensive confidence. You can’t walk in a game and get scored on twice. You just can’t do it.

So we’ve got to figure some of that out. But I like this team. We’re good. I mean, this is a tough game and we’ve got another tough one, and the ones that are left from here on in on the road are tough. It’s going to be a struggle.

Q. It seemed like several times the second half you got beat down the court for easy baskets, and also seemed like loose balls —
JOHN CALIPARI: A couple of them. And we got them in the first half. We got them in the first half. We got beat — we beat them in the first half, and then, they beat us back in the second half the same way. So we kind of did it to each other.

Q. The rebounding, you outrebounded them in the first half and they beat you on the boards in the second. Was that an effort thing? Did they do anything differently in the second half?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think the energy a little bit, we didn’t block out on a couple balls. They had straight runs at the rim. PJ got his fourth foul on one of those. The guy ran right around him and in front of him. He was behind him four steps, and I thought that that affected us.

We had a play where Reid (Travis) didn’t block out those were big plays that were stick-backs, in this kind of game, and sustaining effort and all those things.

But let me just say this: Again, we get down and this team fights and makes big plays to get back in the game. The free throws that we made down the stretch, we missed some but we didn’t down the stretch. The threes that we missed during the game down the stretch, this team made.

So you know, you hate for it to come down to the last play, but that happens sometimes. You hate that that play becomes questionable, but I will say that it should not take away from what LSU did. They beat us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports