The Kentucky Wildcats are fresh off of a nail-biting victory at home over the Ole Miss Rebels, where they shot 2-22 from three, and still pulled off the W. After losses from LSU and Auburn, that win put them in sole possession of first in the SEC. LSU came into the game losing 3 of their last 4, and needed a victory to stay near the top of the conference.
From start to finish, this was an incredibly hard fought battle from both sides and you could feel the intensity on the court through the TV screens. LSU was securing offensive rebounds left and right, although they were giving up a ton of height down low. UK was doing an excellent job defensively of challenging shots at the rim, with 8 first half blocks. After a cold first half from three, UK’s defensive efforts kept the game close with a score of 29-28.
The second half was a completely different story for Kentucky. Immanuel Quickley took over and the Wildcats were scorching hot from three. Nate Sestina, Immanuel Quickley, and Ashton Hagans were all hitting threes as after their shooting woes from the Ole Miss game, finally ceased in the second half. UK went 7-for-8 from three, and from the field shot 74% from the field in the second half. As they spread the floor with their hot shooting, Tyrese Maxey and Nick Richards were able to finish strong in the paint, securing some nice baskets around the rim.
UK’s lead shot up to 15 before LSU decided to attack them in the full court press, and Kentucky struggled dealing with it. The Wildcats turned the ball over repeatedly and missed a couple of clutch free throws, which is unlike them. LSU’s ability to attack the offensive glass, also kept them in the game as they secured 23 offensive rebounds. For reference, UK got 20 defensive rebounds. Meaning, when LSU got more rebounds on their own misses than Kentucky did, which is incredibly rare and alarming for Kentucky considering the size advantage they have on LSU. However, it was too little too late for LSU as Kentucky held them off to a score of 79-76.
However, This win for Kentucky did come at a price. Starting point guard and defensive ringleader Ashton Hagans did suffer a knee injury in the second half and had to miss the rest of the game. Luckily for Kentucky and Hagans, it did not look too serious although his status for the Florida game on Saturday night is uncertain. For now, Kentucky is still hanging on for the 1 seed going into the SEC tournament, and are currently sitting at #10 in the country looking to build on that at Rupp Arena on Saturday night against the Gators.
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