Attendance came up a bit short on Pack the House Day at Memorial Coliseum and so did Kentucky in its quest to end a long drought against Louisiana State.
But Sunday's 59-56 loss to the Tigers in front of 5,027 wasn't without its drama: An Amber Smith three-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime clanked off the side of the rim as time expired.
"We tried to help Kentucky sell some tickets," LSU Coach Van Chancellor joked of the excitement during the waning minutes of the game.
It was the Cats' 15th straight loss to LSU. UK hasn't beaten the Tigers in Lexington since 1994.
More worrisome for Coach Matthew Mitchell is that it was UK's second straight Southeastern Conference home loss despite holding an opponent to less than 60 points and 40 percent shooting.
"Any time you hold an SEC opponent under 60, you ought to have a chance to win, and that's two in a row we've lost," Mitchell said. "We didn't do enough of the little things and tough things to win a close game."
Early in the second half, Kentucky (12-8, 2-3) fell behind by as many as seven points on an Allison Hightower 15-footer, but that shot inspire d a 12-2 Cats run that gave them their first lead of the game since 2-0.
That lead came via an Amani Franklin three-pointer, UK's only made trey of the game. Victoria Dunlap had five points in that scoring spree. The sophomore finished with her third straight double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
But LSU wasn't finished.
A Kristen Morris shot in the lane a few minutes later gave the Tigers (10-7, 3-2) the lead for good with 9:27 to play; that shot was part of an 8-2 run, which was a piece of a bigger 16-6 spree that ultimately put the game away.
Andrea Kelly capped that rally with back-to-back three-pointers — one from each corner — to give LSU a 52-45 lead with 4:40 remaining.
"She can knock down the three from anywhere from out there," Hightower said of Kelly. "Any other time she would have hesitated, but she stepped up and knocked them down."
Kelly, a junior college transfer, made the most of her first start of the season with five three-pointers and 15 points.
"It was pure luck," Chancellor said. "I'd like to tell you that was good coaching."
The Tigers had struggled from three-point range in conference play, making just one of their 19 tries in the past four games.
"That wasn't only on the scouting report," Mitchell said of Kelly. "We thought she was their only three-point threat at a serviceable level and she was more than that today."
But two missed free throws by the unlikely star gave UK an opening near the end of the game.
Her first misses of the season, with 14 seconds to go, gave UK a chance to tie, but the Tigers fouled Carly Morrow instead. The sophomore made both shots and got Kentucky within a point with eight seconds remaining.
One second later, High tower made both of her freebies to give LSU a three-point lead again. The junior scored 18 points to lead the Tigers.
Smith missed her pull-up three-pointer at the buzzer.
It also was the second straight game that UK's outside game didn't keep up with its inside game.
Dunlap had her double-double and fellow post player Eleia Roddy had a career- and game-high 22 points and nine rebounds.
The Kentucky perimeter made just one of its 15 three-point attempts.
"We've got to keep our heads up and try to keep getting better," Dunlap said.
There's more work to be done than that, Mitchell said.
"We didn't play nearly tough enough to win, and LSU played a lot tougher and harder than we did," he said. "That's a bad sign for a team that needs to play hard and needs to do the little things to win."
■ Catina Bett missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury that occurred off the court. She was on the bench in warmups and a boot.
Mitchell said the 6-foot-5 sophomore center who has played in all but two games this season sprained her left ankle in a stairwell. She is listed as day to day.
■ Former Lexington Catholic standout and Akron transfer Keyla Snowden was not on the bench for the game. She is recovering from surgery Friday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Date Opponent Time/result
Nov. 5 x-KY. STATE W, 99-28
Nov. 9 x-BELLARMINE W, 72-69
Nov. 15 MICHIGAN L, 70-60
Nov. 17 CINCINNATI W, 58-55
Nov. 23 GEORGE WASHINGTON W, 67-48
Nov. 28 a-Yale W, 87-82
Nov. 29 a-Long Island W, 46-43
Dec. 2 at Xavier L, 67-40
Dec. 4 at Western Kentucky L, 66-57
Dec. 6 FURMAN W, 74-35
Dec. 12 EAST TENNESSEE ST. L, 59-50
Dec. 14 at Louisville L, 79-50
Dec. 19 ALABAMA A&M W, 65-45
Dec. 21 at Cal-Santa Barbara W, 69-58
Dec. 30 IUPUI W, 82-60
Jan. 1 NORTH CAROLINA A&T W, 72-63
Jan. 3 at Miami (Ohio) W, 80-55
Jan. 8 at Tennessee L, 69-64
Jan. 11 ARKANSAS W, 72-63
Jan. 15 at Alabama W, 67-57
Jan. 18 MISSISSIPPI ST. L, 52-45
Jan. 25 LOUISIANA ST. L, 59-56
Jan. 29 at Florida 7 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Mississippi 3 p.m.
Feb. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA 7 p.m.
Feb. 8 VANDERBILT 1 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Auburn 7 p.m.
Feb. 19 TENNESSEE 7 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Louisiana St. 3 p.m.
Feb. 26 GEORGIA 7 p.m.
March 1 at South Carolina 3 p.m.
x-exhibition; a-Long Island Turkey Classic at Brooklyn, N.Y.