LEXINGTON, Ky. – The LSU men’s basketball team stood toe-to-toe with No. 18 Kentucky and nearly picked up a signature road win before the Wildcats used a Julius Randle putback with 3.9 seconds remaining to claim a 77-76 overtime decision Saturday at Rupp Arena.
LSU (16-10, 7-7 SEC) was paced by Johnny O’Bryant III and Anthony Hickey, who poured in 20 points apiece. The 20 points for Hickey tied a season-high as the duo accounted for 24 of their 40 points during the second half and overtime. O’Bryant III collected 12 rebounds en route to his seventh double-double of the season, while Hickey dished out a career-best eight assists versus one turnover.
Jordan Mickey garnered 11 points and nine rebounds. Off the bench, Andre Stringer registered 10 points for his 10th double figure scoring effort in his last 13 games being used as a reserve. Jarell Martin added nine points on 4-of-7 from the floor.
Kentucky was fueled by Aaron Harrison’s 21 points followed by James Young’s 20 points. The Wildcats also received nine points from Andrew Harrison coupled with eight points and 15 rebounds from Randle.
All square at 69-69 in overtime, Hickey buried a deep triple on the left wing to put LSU ahead 72-69 at the 2:53 mark. Hickey added a layup off an inbounds feed to keep the Tigers up 74-71 with 1:59 remaining.
The Wildcats drilled four free throws – a pair from Randle and a pair from Young – to take a 75-74 lead with 24.7 seconds on the clock.
With Hickey fouled out of the game, Stringer drove the basket and hit a contested runner on the right baseline to put LSU up 76-75 with the clock sitting at 11.5 seconds to go.
Kentucky elected not to call timeout, and Young drove to the basket off a Harrison. His split a LSU double team and his shot attempt was deflected by O’Bryant III in the lane. However, the ball ricocheted to Randle who put in a jump hook over Shavon Coleman to give the Wildcats the 77-76 victory.
The Tigers had an opportunity to win in regulation. Hickey buried a rainbow triple from just to the left off the top of the key to give LSU a 64-63 advantage at the 1:53 mark. After a pair of defensive stops, Stringer converted on 1-of-2 at the line to extend the Tigers lead to 65-63 with 20.7 seconds left.
On Kentucky’s ensuing possession, Andrew Harrison went up for a 12-foot jumper in the lane. However, Coleman was whistled for a foul, and Harrison connected on both free throws to knot the score at 65-65 with 10.9 seconds remaining.
Hickey’s drove the ball the length of the court, but his deep three-point attempt from the right wing over Randle rimmed off which sent the game to overtime.
LSU raced out to a 6-0 lead on the strength of a trio of O’Bryant III buckets during the contest’s opening 2:16. The Wildcats responded with 13 consecutive points behind the Harrison twins and Young to go up 13-6 at the 14:12 mark.
LSU drew even at 15-15 with 10:23 remaining as Hickey made a nice bounce pass to Martin for a dunk in transition then buried back-to-back treys in a 47-second span.
Kentucky was able to regain its momentum behind second chance point and points inside the paint. The Wildcats took their largest lead at 32-24 with 3:46 left.
Coleman registered a four-point play to key a 6-1 LSU spurt to close the half and pull the Tigers back within 35-32 at halftime.
LSU continued to rally and ripped off the first eight points of the second half. Mickey and Hickey knocked down jumpers coupled with two free throws from O’Bryant III and Mickey to make it 40-35 at the 17:32 mark.
The Wildcats responded with six consecutive points to regain a 41-40 edge with 16:29 remaining. In total, there would be 11 ties and 11 lead changes.
Kentucky would grab a 55-51 edge, but LSU answered the bell with a Stringer three-ball followed by a Stringer free throw to even the tally at 55-55 with 7:08 left.
As a team, LSU was 27-of-67 from the floor aided by a 7-for-17 mark from three-point territory. The Tigers were 15-of-20 at the free throw line.
Kentucky countered with a 28-of-67 shooting performance and misfired on nine of its 10 three-point attempts. The Wildcats produced a 20-for-26 effort at the charity stripe. Two keys for Kentucky was a 24-9 edge in second chance points and scoring 50 of the game’s 78 points in the paint.
LSU heads into the final four games of the regular season and plays host to Texas A&M at the Maravich Center. Wednesday’s tip time is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPNU along with www.WatchESPN.com.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.