Date story published: Sunday, January 15, 1989
When Chris Jackson got his rhythm, Louisiana State couldn't ask for anything more.
Contained for nearly 35 minutes, Jackson exploded for 16 straight points including the two free throws with six seconds left that gave LSU a 64-62 victory over Kentucky last night.
A Rupp Arena record crowd of 24,288 watched Jackson struggle most of the night. The Southeastern Conference's leading scorer (27.9 ppg) made only three of his first 13 shots and had just 11 points with little more than five minutes left.
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UK led throughout -- by 13 late in the first half -- and Jackson was nearing a season low (13 points twice) when he went nuts.
UK led 55-48 when the game changed. Jackson had a three-pointer -- only his second in the game -- and seven free throws in accounting for LSU's final 16 points.
After his two free throws put LSU ahead 64-62, UK's chance to tie or win vanished in a Chris Mills turnover.
Hounded by a defender, Mills pivoted into Dennis Tracey, who gobbled up the ball.
The loss snapped Kentucky's three-game winning streak. UK fell to 8-8 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.
UK also lost for the fourth time at Rupp. No UK team had ever lost more than three in the 13-year-old arena.
"A very painful loss," UK coach Eddie Sutton said. 'It can hurt you because it can hurt your confidence."
LSU improved to 10-5 and 3-2.
Jackson, who finished with 27 points, credited a technical on Sutton for flipping his switch. Jackson scored 10 points after Sutton got the technical with 4:12 left.
"After I shot the technicals, I started to feel pretty good," Jackson said. "It was like I finally had my rhythm, so I kept on going."
Sutton felt the technical turned both teams around, too. UK led 55-52 as the teams headed for the bench at a timeout.
LSU turned the technical into a five-point possession. Jackson made both free throws, then hit a three-pointer to give LSU its first lead, 57-55.
"Anybody who's coached knows you don't get a technical in that situation," Sutton said. "I didn't say anything. I guess (referee Charles) Watkins thought I said something. It was uncalled for."
The UK coach said he protested the technical after the game in a conversation with SEC Commissioner Harvey Schiller. Schiller attended the game.
Asked if he ventured out of the coaching box, Sutton said no.
Told a coach is allowed out of the box at a timeout, Sutton said: "I don't ever get out of the box."
LeRon Ellis, who led UK with 20 points, said Sutton protested a no-call on one of his shots.
"He said something like 'Watch the hacks,' " Ellis said. "There was no profanity. His voice wasn't even raised."
Jackson took over after the technical. After Mills drove the length of the floor to put UK ahead on a three-point play, 58-57, Jackson answered.
He drove to the baseline, then lifted a shot with Derrick Miller all over him.
"I got a little lucky," Jackson said.
The shot fell, Miller was called for a foul and Jackson made the free throw to put LSU up 60-58 with 2:39 left.
That time was an eternity for Miller.
Jackson, a 6-foot-1 guard with lightning speed, was fouled twice on drives down the stretch. An 81.3 percent free throw, Jackson made all four attempts to conclude a 7-for-7 game at the line.
"I'm not a quitter," Miller said. "I played him the best I could. I never backed down."
Miller, whose offense suffered (three of 14, one of eight on three- pointers), guarded Jackson for much of the game. Sutton considered switching someone else onto Jackson.
But Reggie Hanson had his hands full with Ricky Blanton. Blanton's 21 points, all scored in the first 33 minutes, kept LSU in the game.
Chris Mills, Sutton's other option, was guarding 6-6 Vernel Singleton and the UK coach wondered if Miller might get burned on the boards.
"I just hoped to keep Derrick on him and hang on," Sutton said.
Jackson made only three of 11 first-half shots in the first half. He missed all five of his three-point attempts.
"My shot for some reason felt funny early," Jackson said. "It was coming off my hand wrong. I was flicking it instead of following through."
Miller played off Jackson, conceding the jumper but denying the drive.
"I made a coaching blunder," LSU coach Dale Brown said. He ran a "one- four" offense, which allowed Jackson room at the top while the other LSU players hugged the baseline.
"That's just too much pressure on him," Brown said, "and we didn't get into offense."
At the end, Brown switched to a spread offense. That placed Jackson's teammates out high, too, in positions where they could set screens.
While Jackson missed often early, UK could establish only a 33-26 halftime lead.
"The game was lost in the first half," Sutton sad "I thought we reverted back to the same things we did with the two games in December against Northwestern State and Bowling Green. We had a chance to deliver the knockout punch in the first half and didn't do it."
Instead, Jackson did in the second half.