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Tiger Basketball Takes To Road For Tuesday Contest At Kentucky

by Kent Lowe
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Tiger Basketball Takes To Road For Tuesday Contest At Kentucky

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team takes its show on the road for the first time on an opponent’s home court as the Tigers take on Kentucky at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center Tuesday night.

Tipoff is set for just after 7 p.m. CT with Chris Blair and former LSU head coach John Brady on the call on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media flagship affiliates Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and on ESPN with Karl Ravech and Jimmy Dykes.

The Tigers are 12-1 and 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference after a 60-57 win over Arkansas at the Maravich Center last Wednesday. Kentucky (9-4) lost its SEC opener at Missouri, 89-75. The Wildcats righted things on Saturday at home against Louisville, winning 86-63. The Wildcats are ranked No. 19 in the AP poll prior to the announcement of Monday’s media poll.

Of the five games played last Wednesday, three home teams (LSU, Missouri and Auburn) scored home wins while Tennessee and Alabama won in road games. All 14 leagues teams will be in action for the first time Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Against Arkansas, the Tigers rallied from six down twice in the middle of the second half to finally take the lead for good in the final 2:30 of the game. Trae Hannibal off the Tiger bench scored 19 points, hitting 9-of-14 shots and Derek Fountain had his second college double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Hannibal was +10 in the plus/minus numbers for the game and Fountain was +8.

The win put LSU on the verge of cracking the top 25 in the Associated Press media poll, earning 83 points, 11 out of the 25th spot.

Of the win, Coach Matt McMahon said: “… we’re such a work in progress that we’re just trying to get better every day in practice and in games. Obviously, the goal is to win while doing it so I hope it’s something we can continue to build on. There’s a lot of things that went into winning. I thought our defensive effort and ability to defend the paint was much improved … Of course, we had huge individual performances such as Trae Hannibal, who was a monster. The first half, we didn’t finish well at the basket while the second half we went 14-for-22 on two pointers. We got to the rim and finished. Derek Fountain had a 14-10 (14 points and 10 rebounds) double-double, but now you’re going down the line.

“We had great bench play and KJ (Williams), who has been such a great scorer for us. It speaks to his game that he’s just about winning and how unselfish he is. He was the screener on a lot of those downhill drives where Trae (Hannibal), Justice (Hill) and some of our guys got to the basket and finished. A lot of positives to take from it. Obviously, it wasn’t an offensive masterpiece for anybody. Winning is winning and we’ll take it. We’re just really proud of our players.”

KJ Williams continues to lead the Tigers at 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds with Adam Miller averaging 13.0 points per game. LSU has three other players averaging around eight points – Cam Hayes 8.4, Hill 8.2 and Fountain 7.8.

Against Louisville, Kentucky was led by Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe with 24 points each. Tshiebwe had 14 rebounds. Cason Wallace had 17 points. The Wildcats shot 60 percent from the Rupp Arena floor with just four three-pointers and 46 points in the paint. UK had a 33-20 advantage in rebounding.

The Tigers are on the road for both games this week, traveling to Bryan-College Station for a Saturday 5 p.m. against Texas A&M. LSU’s next home game is on Tuesday, Jan. 10 against Florida.