Basketball Hangs Tough with No. 1 Kentucky, 60-51
NEW ORLEANS - The LSU men's basketball team turned in a valiant effort and gave No. 1 Kentucky everything it could handle before dropping a hard-fought 60-51 decision during Friday's SEC Tournament Quarterfinal.
Storm Warren was one of four Tigers (18-14) to reach double figures. He notched a team-high 14 points and hauled in six rebounds. Andre Stringer added 11 points, equaled a career-best four steals and tacked on three rebounds.
After tying his career-high seven assists in Thursday's opening round win over Arkansas, Anthony Hickey ripped off 10 points to go along with a career-best five steals, four rebounds and three helpers. Ralston Turner chipped in 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting before fouling out with 7:51 left.
Trailing 6-2 after the first four minutes of the contest, LSU rattled off 10 of the next 12 points behind Hickey. He converted on a pair of fastbreak lay-ups that gave the Tigers a 12-7 lead with 12:34 to go in the opening stanza.
Stringer and Turner also banged home triples to help the cause as LSU's defense held the Wildcats without a field goal for seven minutes.
Kentucky charged back and secured a 25-24 halftime edge behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb. The duo combined for 19 of the team's 25 points. However, the 25 first half points were a season-low for the Wildcats.
Down 28-24 during the opening moments of the second half, LSU reeled off 11 of the next 13 points to grab a 35-30 advantage at the 16:58 mark.
Turner ignited the spurt with a three-pointer followed by two Stringer free throws to put the Tigers in-front. Hickey found Warren for a transition lay-up, while Turner took the ball hard to the basket for a driving lay-up. The run ended with a Stringer steal and a lay-up.
The Wildcats (31-1) fired back with a 19-6 spurt of its own over the next 9:07 to take control of the game. Terrance Jones strung together nine consecutive points to start the rally. Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis contributed a pair of baskets to make it 49-41 with 7:51 remaining.
Kidd-Gilchrist poured in a game-high 19 points aided by a 9-of-12 effort at the foul line. Jones finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Davis posted 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Lamb came away with 12 points.
As a team, Kentucky shot 42.9 percent (18-of-42) from the field. The 60 points scored by all five starters was the second-lowest scoring output of the season for the top-ranked Wildcats.
LSU garnered 16 points off of 18 UK turnovers. However, a 29.4 shooting clip (20-of-68) held the Tigers back from pulling the upset and allowed Kentucky to advance to Saturday's SEC Semifinals.
LSU mounted one final charge and pulled within 49-45 after a Hickey steal led to Stringer lay-up with 6:31 on the clock. Kentucky responded with a Davis three-point play to regain the momentum, and LSU wouldn't get any closer.