Date story was published: Thursday, January 30, 1986
BATON ROUGE, La. - Roger Harden hit a 25-foot shot at the buzzer to give Kentucky a 54-52 victory over Louisiana State in Southeastern Conference basketball last night.
Harden's shot, which gave Kentucky its 17th victory in 19 games, answered a clutch shot by LSU's Derrick Taylor. The LSU guard hit an 18-footer with six seconds remaining to tie the score 52-52.
"I knew I was going to take the shot as soon as I took the inbounds pass," Harden said. "There was no doubt I wanted to take the shot."
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Twice before in the final 90 seconds, Harden had missed shots from about 20 feet.
"Sure, I knew I had missed those shots," Harden said. But the senior guard added, "When I crossed midcourt there was no doubt I'd take the shot."
Taylor got the chance when Winston Bennett made only one of two free throws with 18 seconds left to give UK a 52-50 lead.
"We just ran our regular offense," Taylor said. "Don (Redden) penetrated and passed to me. I just took the shot." When it swished through, Taylor said, "I was thinking overtime, you know."
So was UK's Kenny Walker, who was limited to 12 points by LSU's zone and box-and-one defenses.
"I couldn't believe it," Walker said of Taylor's shot.
Harden's shot improved UK's record to 8-1 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU fell to 16-4 overall and 4-4 in the SEC.
LSU had the crowd thinking upset with a 6-2 run that cut UK's lead to 49-48.
Redden's bank shot from straight away cut the lead to 49-46. It became 49-48 when Taylor pulled up on a fast break and hit a shot over Harden.
Harden, however, answered with a shot from the top of the key to put Kentucky ahead 51-48. Taylor's off-balance shot in the lane cut the lead to 51-50 with 3:28 remaining.
UK had let two chances to pad the lead slip away. With 3:06 left, Walker missed the first free throw in a one-and-one situation.
When Jose Vargas fumbled away the rebound, UK got the ball back. However, Richard Madison got caught in traffic along the baseline and gave it back.
LSU called time with 2:13 remaining. But Taylor's shot on a one-on-one move appeared to be partially blocked and UK recovered the ball.
The score remained 51-50 as the teams battled toward the final six seconds.
A pair of dunk attempts and blocked shots left UK holding a 47-42 lead when LSU called time with 8:02 remaining.
The dunk attempts both belonged to LSU.
With UK ahead 45-40, Vargas missed a two-handed slam, but the long rebound went to teammate Oliver Brown. Brown thundered down the lane and into Richard Madison, but the referees ruled his dunk came before the charge.
The blocks followed. Vargas, giving the Tigers a big lift off the bench, blocked Walker's turnaround.
However, at the other end, Redden came off a pick but his foul-line jumper was blocked by Walker.
Several big plays by Bennett helped Kentucky forge a 43-40 lead.
Bennett's turnaround put UK up 40-38. After Vargas hit a post-up shot inside, UK took a 42-40 edge when Ed Davender hit from 18 feet.
Then, Bennett picked off a pass to regain possession for UK. Richard Madison's free throw increased the lead to three.
Bennett helped keep it there by grabbing a rebound in traffic. After a television timeout at 11:29, Bennett hit another turnaround to give UK a 45-40 lead with 10:38 remaining.
Kentucky moved Walker to the perimeter early in the second half. His two jumpers helped keep UK even at 38-38 when a television timeout was called with 14:25 remaining.
LSU was running effectively when UK missed or was guilty of a turnover. Eight of the Tigers' first 10 points came off the break. Redden's layup put UK up 38-36 with 15:28 left.
Walker answered with his second perimeter jumper.
LSU concentrated its remaining forces on stopping Walker. The strategy helped prevent Kentucky from blowing the game open in the first half.
With a 2-3 zone collapsed around him throughout the half, Walker went more than six minutes without a shot in one stretch.
UK, which made 69.5 percent of its first-half shots, made enough perimeter shots to stay ahead most of the half. In one stretch, the Cats made six straight shots (only one by Walker) in opening up its largest lead of the half (26-18).
However, LSU stayed close, trailing 32-28 at intermission, thanks to an emotional effort urged on by an enthusiastic crowd.
UK opened shakily, committing five turnovers in the first 4 1/2 minutes.
After the fourth turnover, when Winston Bennett was whistled for setting an illegal pick, LSU's Redden waved his arms to the crowd, encouraging more noise.
Redden, who had 12 points by halftime, hit six of LSU's first 10 points. His leaner in the lane gave LSU an early 10-8 lead, one of the Tigers' five two-point leads.
Taylor, who had eight first-half points, gave LSU its last two-point edge. His fast-break jumper from the top of the key put the Tigers up 16-14 with 10:24 remaining. A block of an Davender shot inside fueled the break.
However, by then the tide had already turned in Kentucky's favor.
Beginning with 12:19 remaining, UK made nine of 10 shots. The only miss was the block on Davender.
After Davender's layup was blocked from behind, UK went on a 12-2 run that gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the half (26-18).
Davender began the string with two perimeter jumpers. Harden also hit a pair and James Blackmon added a 15-footer.
Walker's contribution was a turnaround in the lane.
Meanwhile, LSU's impatience and UK defense combined to blank the Tigers for more than five minutes.
LSU missed its four shots and committed five turnovers from 9:34 to 4:14, a period when UK ran off 10 straight points to take its 26-18 edge.
LSU got a lift from Vargas, whose two baskets cut Kentucky's lead to 26-22.
When Walker was stripped of the ball twice inside - two of UK's 16 first- half turnovers - LSU cut further into Kentucky's lead.
On the second theft, when Taylor took the ball from Walker in the lane, Oliver Brown's fast-break layup tied it at 28-28 with 1:23 remaining.
UK managed to regain the lead as Bennett hit two shots inside, the last with five seconds remaining, to set the halftime score.
John Williams, one of two LSU players who contracted chicken pox, was released from a Baton Rouge hospital yesterday afternoon and attended last night's game. Williams, who had been LSU's leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and rebounder (8.3 rpg) sat behind the LSU bench in street clothes.
LSU's team physician, Dr. James Osterberger, said that Williams may resume shooting today and may gradually increase his workouts over the weekend.
Osterberger did not say when Williams might return to the lineup.
The other LSU player who contracted chicken pox, Bernard Woodside, was expected to be released from the hospital today.
According to a source, Nikita Wilson may regain his eligibility. Wilson, who has been declared academically ineligible, had his final appeal of that decision heard yesterday.
Although no official word was given, a source said Wilson will be permitted to retake a test in the subject in question, a remedial math class.
If he passes, Wilson will regain his eligibility, according to the source.
Last night's pregame activities included two ceremonies. The parents of Mark Alcorn, a member of LSU's 1981 Final Four team, were introducted to the crowd. Alcorn, who lost his life to cancer. A new scholarship fund will be set up in his name, LSU coach Dale Brown said.
Also, members of the first LSU team to beat Kentucky, 73-59 in 1961, were introduced.