Basketball Travels to Face No. 15 Wildcats
Communications Sr. Associate
LEXINGTON, KY – The LSU men’s basketball team traveled here late Monday afternoon and will face nationally-ranked Kentucky in a Tuesday night contest that is set for 6 p.m. (Baton Rouge time) from Rupp Arena.
The game is set to be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and lsusports.net/live) with the “Voice of the Tigers” Chris Blair and televised on ESPN’s Super Tuesday with Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham and Kaylee Hartung on the call.
The Tigers come in off nine straight losses and sit at 9-13 overall and 1-9 in the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats are finding themselves with questions after losing 88-66 at Florida on Saturday and falling in three-of-the-last-four games. Kentucky is 18-5 overall and 8-2 in the SEC, one game back of league leader South Carolina. The Kats are tied for second with Florida.
LSU fell on Saturday 85-73 to Texas A&M in a game in which LSU was able to come out and get an early seven-point advantage before A&M took control of the game. Both teams shot over 50 percent in the second half and A&M only outscored LSU by three, 51-48. The Tigers, for the first time in just short of a few days, was perfect from the foul line, making 13-of-13.
Those 13 free throws came from just two players as Brandon Sampson made 9-of-9 (the second time this year he has done that) and Skylar Mays made 4-of-4. Sampson led LSU in the contest with 21 points, his third game of the year over 20 points. Center Duop Reath had his season high of 16 rebounds as he posted his fifth double double of the year with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Wayde Sims off the bench scored 15 points.
The Tigers hope the road will be a good setting for team scoring leader Antonio Blakeney who has been hounded defensively in the last three home games, scoring a combined 20 points. But in LSU’s last road game at Texas Tech, he was able to put in 23 points for his 16th 20-plus point game. Blakeney comes in averaging 15.6 points per game.
“(Kentucky) had a setback on the road last time out and are looking forward to being back home in front of their 20,000-plus fans,” LSU Coach Johnny Jones said. “I’m sure we will get their best effort (Tuesday) night and it will be a great challenge for us. It’s a great opportunity for our guys to play before a large crowd in a tremendous facility against some of the top players in the country. So what more could you ask for than to be on that type of stage. That’s what we will be presented with on Tuesday so you want to make sure you have the opportunity to step up to the challenge.”
Malik Monk leads the Wildcats, averaging 21.9 points a game with Isiah Briscoe 14.4 points per game (also 4.4 rebounds) and Bam Adebayo at 13.0 in the projected starting lineup averaging in double figures for Coach John Calipari. De’Aaron Fox, who did not start against Florida, but has 21 starts this season is averaging 16 points a contest.
The Wildcats fell seven spots in the AP poll and are ranked 15th coming into the LSU game which opens the final four weeks of the college basketball regular season. This will be the 49th meeting of the teams overall with LSU getting five wins, all since Rupp Arena opened in the mid-1970s.
On many of the players and their first visit to Rupp Arena, Jones said: “All you can do is tell them to get ready for it. It’s going to be a great experience and something they have never experienced before.
Prior to leaving for Lexington, Jones hosted his monthly Tipoff Club luncheon presented by Hub International with guest Tasmin Mitchell, a member of the 2006 NCAA Final Four team and this year’s Legend representing LSU at the SEC Tournament.
Updates during the game are available at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.