LSU Falls to Kentucky, 82-69

by C. Kent Lowe I Sr. Associate Communications Director
Box Score +0
LSU Falls to Kentucky, 82-69

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – The Kentucky Wildcats used a strong start to put LSU behind early and then dominated on the boards to stop any second half comeback as Kentucky downed LSU, 82-69, Saturday evening at Rupp Arena. 

LSU falls to 10-4 and 5-3 after its second consecutive loss. Kentucky is now 5-9 and 4-3 in the SEC. LSU closes out the first half of conference play on the road Tuesday night at 8 p.m. against Texas A&M. 

Sophomore Trendon Watford had a 26-10 double double with 26 points and 10 rebounds, his second double of the season. Watford hit 10-of-20 shots with two treys and had four free throws. Cameron Thomas had 18 points as the only other Tiger in double figures. 

Four Wildcats were in double figures with Brandon Boston Jr., leading the Wildcats for the second straight game, this time with 18 points. Keion Brooks Jr., had 15, Olivier Sarr 13 and Davion Mintz 11. 

LSU held a 4-2 lead after 90 seconds by Kentucky had an offensive explosion outscoring LSU, 15-3, to jump out 17-7 at the 14:52 mark, making three three-pointers in the barrage. The advantage would jump to as much as 16 points at 33-17 at the 7:52 mark as the Wildcats scored 49 first-half points en route to a 49-36 halftime advantage.

LSU hit 13-of-34 in the first half (38.2%) with three treys, while Kentucky made 17-of-32 shots (11-of-15 inside the arc) and six three-pointers to build the advantage. 

In the second half, LSU was able to get the game down to five on a couple of occasions, 59-54, on a Thomas layup and at 56-51 on a Watford paint bucket at the 15:28 mark in the game. 

But Boston came back for Kentucky and hit a three-pointer at the 15:02 mark that pushed the Wildcat lead to 59-51. Neither team would score for close to four minutes before a Boston layup pushed the UK lead back to double digits. The Tigers would get no closer than seven the rest of the way. 

Neither team shot well in the second half as LSU again posted a 38 percent shooting half with 12-of-31 but just 1-of-13 from the arc. Kentucky made just 10-of-32 in the second half but was able to keep the ball away from LSU and extend possessions by out rebounding the Tigers, 27-15, in the final 20 minutes and 10-4 on the offensive glass. 

That resulted in a 12-5 advantage for Kentucky in second chance points in the second half. 

Isaiah Jackson had just six points for Kentucky, but had 13 rebounds on the game. 

LSU finished the night 25-of-65 from the floor with four treys, while Kentucky made 27-of-64 with seven treys. LSU was 15-of-22 at the line, Kentucky 21-of-26. 

LSU Head Coach Will Wade
 
Opening statement …

“Disappointing night. We obviously got off to a rough start again for the second straight game. I thought our guys fought like hell in the second half. I thought we played extremely hard. We could never get over the hump. Our offense has let us down a little bit these last couple games. We got to get off to a better start so we can’t keep digging these holes and trying to climb out of these holes.”
 
On the shooting struggles the team is facing …
“I thought tonight their length bothered us a little bit. It took us some time to adjust to their length. We didn’t finish some things around the rim. They were closing out pretty quick on a couple guys, so it took us a little bit of time to get in rhythm and play against their length.”
 
 On LSU’s zone defense
“We were a little bit late on our rotations. We left the rim a couple times. We must’ve given up six or seven lob dunks. I’d have to go back and count and watch the tape. We can’t leave the rim on the back end of the press like we did. We have to be cleaner with it there. We lost out on a couple defensive rebounds. They got two offensive-rebound 3s. They beat our transition a little bit. It was stuff that we can fix, and we got to go back and fix it.
 
On how LSU started strong in the second half …
“I thought early on we did exactly what we needed to do, which was attack the paint, getting in there and make some things happen. We get good looks, our shot chart quality was really good. We got good looks, we just did not commit. We had good shooters shooting them, and they’re going to make them most nights, but tonight was just not one of those nights.”
 
On Darius Days’ performance …
“They switched guards onto him. We tried to get him going in the post tonight, you know he missed a couple of those post moves. And then the foul trouble, he picked up two early against Alabama and two early here. The foul trouble is really difficult for him to play through. It’s tough when he’s not out there, because there is one less floor spacer out there. You know, he spaces the floor and gives us room to drive the ball and open the lane up. They can pack the paint in a lot easier without Days. We were able to play Days on the perimeter, and one of their big guys was out guarding him, so that’s why we were able to drive it in there at the beginning of the second half. They didn’t have the big guys at the rim to block everything because they were out covering Days on the perimeter. Now, their big guys are around the rim a little bit more without Days out there.”
 
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#2, Trendon Watford, Forward
 
On the start of the second half focusing on pounding the ball into the paint …

“We was just taking what the defense gave us. We understand that takes a lot of 3 balls with Cameron (Thomas) and Javonte (Smart) and today we just couldn’t get those to fall. When we needed a 3 to fall the most, it didn’t. I think we did a pretty good job getting in the paint, but we unfortunately didn’t make the shots we needed to.”
 
On the slow defensive starts …
“Yeah, we coming out slow. I don’t think there’s any way around it. As a leader, I think I got to do a better job of trying to get other guys to have energy in the first half as soon as the tip-off starts. This has happened the last two games and I think as leaders, me, Javonte, and Darius (Days) have to hold everybody accountable. I think we got away from that and from the start we gotta be, we can’t dig ourselves a hole in games like this on the road, so we got to be better.”
 
On the continuous issues with grabbing defensive rebounds and getting out in transition …
“We knew they were a good offensive rebounding team from the start. And I think we didn’t do good enough in the second half rebounding. Some of those balls came low, some of those balls we needed the most and we didn’t get them, and I don’t think there’s another other way around it.”