Macklin's Jersey Hangs in Honor; Tigers Fall
BATON ROUGE - Bo Spencer poured in 25 points for the second consecutive game but the LSU men's basketball team lost an 81-55 decision to No. 4 Kentucky Saturday at the Maravich Center.
Spencer tallied 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as the Baton Rouge native surpassed the 20-point plateau for the ninth time this season. Tasmin Mitchell tacked on 10 points and five rebounds, while Storm Warren chipped in seven points.
The afternoon was highlighted by the jersey retirement of LSU All-American Durand 'Rudy' Macklin, who led the Tigers to the NCAA Final Four in 1981. Macklin's No. 40 joins the jerseys of fellow Tiger legends Pete Maravich, Shaquille O'Neal, Bob Pettit and Seimone Augustus in the Maravich Center rafters.
LSU (9-14, 0-9 SEC) raced out to a 6-1 lead in the game's opening minutes sparked by the Tigers defensive pressure that forced Kentucky (22-1, 7-1 SEC) to miss its first six shot attempts.
The Wildcats fired back with 41 of the next 49 points and connected on 16-of-24 from the floor over the final 15 minutes of the stanza to take a 42-14 advantage into halftime.
DeMarcus Cousins fueled UK with 15 of his 19 points in the opening half. Patrick Patterson added 16 points and Eric Bledsoe tallied 10 points as the Wildcats outscored LSU 46-22 in the paint.
The Tigers limited John Wall to season-low six points on 2-of-9 shooting. It marked only the second time that Wall failed to reach double figures this season.
LSU returns to action Wednesday at Arkansas. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST on the SEC Network. Fans also can listen to the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and online at LSUsports.net in the Geaux Zone.
LSU HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON QUOTES
Opening statement ...
"Kentucky is for real. It's interesting. I thought we had really good energy to start. It was maybe 10-10 or 14-10, and then DeMarcus (Cousins) was DeMarcus. I've been on that end of the deal. I've had a couple of teams like that, and they were very mature, very, very competitive, and I say this positively, nasty. As hard as it is to lose, they are better. Kentucky doesn't have three or four, but maybe five or six guys that are going to play after college. We were trying to run offense, and their physicality kept checking us, which is good hard-nosed basketball. They wouldn't let us set a screen, and really got under our skin and intimidated us a little bit. They have a chance to win it all. I know John (Calipari) probably hates me saying this, but they have a chance to win the whole thing if they just stay to the course and listen to their coach."
On what allowed Kentucky to break through ...
"It wasn't because of our lack of energy or effort. The situation you are talking about is the six out of eight possessions where they got an offensive put back. It was pure physicality, strength and being better players. Storm (Warren) was doing everything he could to put a body on guys. Garrett (Green) is Garrett. He got manhandled a couple of times. Without looking at the tape, you only have so many timeouts. We knew going in it was going to be tough going make or miss and getting in the zone just because of the quickness of the ball and their length. Eric Bledsoe is your shortest guy at 6-1, 185 pounds, and everyone else is 6-6. You have other guys that are coming off the bench that are good starters and played on the team last year. There was a situation where they were just better players. I thought their preparation was good.
"The second half I thought we did a good job of trying to run our plays and get in the offense to take good shots. We are still struggling at times. Again, they did a good job of matching Tasmin (Mitchell) up with one guy and making it tough for him. I thought Bo (Spencer) showed a lot of courage. At times there were bad shots, but in those situations, that was probably the best shot we could get. For me, without looking at the tape, it's hard to say we took a step back. I thought we showed some improvement against Tennessee, Mississippi State and Alabama. I thought for the most part we were getting better. Having seen every team in the league with the exception of Vanderbilt, who quite frankly played these guys toe-to-toe, this is a really good basketball team that has the ability to be a really great team in a short amount of time."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
On impressions of Kentucky's team...
"Kentucky is a really good team. They've got everything they need. They're well-coached, and they play hard. I don't see why they aren't No. 1 in the nation."
On Kentucky's superior athleticism...
"Kentucky is a very physical team. (DeMarcus) Cousins is very physical. (Patrick) Patterson is very physical, too. They came down and played really hard. Kentucky has a very good inside presence."
On guarding Kentucky...
"I give Kentucky's interior my utmost respect. It wasn't the perimeter that really shocked us; it was the inside. They played very physically. They're 6'9, 6'10, 6'11. It's hard to guard them. They're inside perimeter was very strong. They took care of the ball in the paint."
On looking forward on the rest of the season...
"We're still going to come out and play hard. We're going to try to get a victory in every game. No matter what, we are going to try to get a victory. There is no quitting, no stopping. We're going to keep going."
On thoughts of season thus far...
"You're going to be shocked with any team that goes 0-9. We're going to stay together as a team and stay the course and try to get it together."
On impressions of Kentucky...
"Great team. It's full of potential NBA players. They had an awesome game today. We took some steps back today. They're a great team."
On guarding Kentucky...
"The guys on Kentucky's team are absolute animals. (DeMarcus) Cousins. (Patrick) Patterson. All of them are physical. All of them are big and wide. They're hard to get around. I'm so impressed with Cousins because he's just a freshman, and he plays like he's been playing on the collegiate level forever. They're just so big, and they really want the ball."
KENTUCKY POSTGAME QUOTES
Head Coach John Calipari
"I brought out three or four plays after the game that we've got to eliminate. There's no reason for them. It just shows you how young these guys are. They revert. They have game slippage. It happens. We're fine. There are a lot of happy guys in there.
On Trent Johnson's coaching job this season...
"I look at what Trent's doing here undermanned. They had a chance to win every game I've seen. I was sick when I watched Auburn. I don't know how they lost. Tas Mitchell went for [38 points]. I watched the Tennessee game. They had Tennessee beat. Then you watch them against Ole Miss. It's a tie ballgame with six minutes to go. He's giving these kids a chance to win every game. He hit a little bit of a buzz saw today in our team. We're pretty big, and I think that bothered them - our size. Here's what kills me about you guys: This may be the best job he's ever done coaching, but you look at records and say 'Wow.' I'm just telling you, o do the things he's doing to keep them in games... and they'll start winning. They'll win. I don't know who they've got next, but I wouldn't want to be them the next game because they got physical with us but we were a little too big for them."
On officials reviewing fouls called on DeMarcus Cousins...
"My issue is that they keep going to the monitors. He gets absolutely whacked, racked, pushed, shoved and then what he does, they go and look at the monitor, and that's my thing. If you want to go look at the monitor, you've got to protect him. Just call every foul. You can't let him get grabbed, pushed, shoved and then expect no kind of response. No disrespect to the officials, I'm just saying."
Forward DeMarcus Cousins
"I still never get a call. I really don't know what to do in that situation. Every little thing I do, they walk to the monitors ready to pop a flagrant on me or some type of call. Every time I came down the court I get elbowed in the jaw. It's not even looked at or called. It's completely unfair. I'm gonna keep playing ball, but I'm getting ripped to be such a bad player. Every game I play I've been beat up and had no calls."