UK Men's Basketball

LSU trounces Kentucky, 85-67

John Calipari After Loss To LSU

Kentucky coach John Calipari talks to media after his team's 85-67 loss to LSU at Baton Rouge.
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Kentucky coach John Calipari talks to media after his team's 85-67 loss to LSU at Baton Rouge.

No one doubted LSU’s talent. “From a pure physical talent standpoint, LSU can match up with Kentucky,” SEC Network analyst Joe Dean Jr. had said.

The question was whether the Tigers could beat No. 9 Kentucky.

“Definitely an underachieving team,” Dean said of LSU before adding, “They’re not going to be underachieving when Kentucky walks in that door. They’re going to be fired up to the gills.”

LSU’s 85-67 victory Tuesday night was a triumphal statement for one team. LSU’s largest margin of victory in the series since 1992 was reminiscent of the game here two years ago when ESPN’s Dan Dakich said Kentucky “played” while LSU “competed.”

UK Coach John Calipari said much the same thing.

“We weren’t up for the challenge,” he said. “We weren’t ready to compete at the level they were competing at, especially our inside people. We didn’t get very much from anybody in there except a lot of fouls.”

Kentucky, which fell to 11-3 overall, 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference and 0-2 when playing on an opponent’s home court, relied on its guards perhaps to a fault. Jamal Murray (21) and Tyler Ulis (23) combined for 44 points. The two made 16 of 33 shots. Their teammates made only eight of 25.

UK’s starting front line of Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress had as many fouls (10) as points and rebounds (10).

Skal Labissiere did not look ready to compete. He had three points and two rebounds.

The big men missing in action adversely affected the guards, Calipari said. “They’re not making winning plays,” he said. “They’re just trying to make plays.”

Kentucky had a good news/bad news first half.

The good news, in a glass-half-full-of-dust sense, was the Cats trailed only 37-27 at halftime despite making only nine of 28 shots.

The bad news was that Ben Simmons contributed only two points, four rebounds and one assist in a half that LSU led the final 17:15. Simmons finished with a double-double, but he got it as UK hoped: the hard way. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Frontcourt mate Craig Victor II also posted a double-double: 15 points and 12 rebounds.

“Me and Ben, we just knew we had to play physical,” Victor said.

Tim Quarterman, who had made only eight of 25 shots (two of 13 from beyond the arc) in the last five games, led LSU with 21 points.

Early foul trouble signaled that winning would be a difficult task for Kentucky. UK’s primary big men, Lee and Labissiere, each picked up two fouls inside the first eight minutes.

To add to the frustration, three of the fouls came on the offensive end: a charge and an illegal screen by Lee, an over-the-back call on Labissiere.

That pressed into service Isaac Humphries, who had played only six minutes since Kentucky’s loss at UCLA. He picked up two fouls and went to the bench at the 8:47 mark.

LSU, which had weathered heavy criticism for its defense and rebounding, did well in both categories against depleted Kentucky. The Tigers outrebounded UK 22-19 in the half and 24-13 in the second.

Against an LSU defense ranked No. 269 in points allowed and No. 204 in opponents’ shooting accuracy, Kentucky made only four of its first 15 shots.

Mychal Mulder broke the spell by making his first three-pointer of the season, a shot that reduced LSU’s lead to 18-13.

LSU’s Aaron Epps more than matched Mulder in the surprise factor. He came into the game having made only two of 10 shots from beyond the arc. He hit two, the first reminiscent of the UCLA game: a pick-and-pop by a big man (Epps is 6-9).

Simmons sat out the final 9:15 of the half after picking up his second foul. In that time, LSU doubled its lead, extending a 17-10 margin to 36-22 with 1:13 left.

Kentucky, which lost the only two times it trailed at half earlier this season, needed a comeback.

Just as in the loss to Ohio State, Murray led a second-half rally. He scored 13 points in the first six-plus minutes. His foul- line jumper reduced the deficit to 51-46 with 13:26 left. Plenty of time for a rally although Lee had already fouled out and Poythress had four fouls.

Kentucky got as close as four, 58-54. More than nine minutes remained.

But the toughness wasn’t there when needed. After Quarterman rattled in an improbable three-pointer to beat the shot clock, Victor stripped Murray of the ball near mid-court. Victor went for a fast-break layup while being fouled by Murray. The three-point play restored a double-digit LSU lead at 64-54 with 8:48 left.

Foul trouble crippled a Cat comeback. LSU was shooting the double-bonus with 10:49 left.

LSU 85, No. 9 KENTUCKY 67

KENTUCKY

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Lee

5

0-2

0-0

0-2

0

5

0

Ulis

40

7-16

7-8

1-1

6

1

23

Briscoe

30

2-6

1-7

1-6

0

4

5

Poythress

26

2-3

0-3

0-4

0

5

4

Murray

36

9-17

1-1

1-2

1

2

21

Labissiere

16

1-3

1-2

1-2

0

2

3

Matthews

7

0-0

0-0

1-1

1

1

0

Mulder

14

1-4

2-2

3-8

0

0

5

Humphries

7

0-2

0-0

0-1

0

3

0

Willis

19

2-5

0-0

2-3

0

2

6

Totals

200

24-58

12-23

11-32

8

25

67

Percentages: FG .414, FT .522. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Willis 2-4, Murray 2-5, Ulis 2-6, Mulder 1-2, Poythress 0-1, Briscoe 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 1 (Briscoe). Turnovers: 14 (Poythress 3, Briscoe 3, Ulis 2, Murray 2, Lee 2, Labissiere, Matthews). Steals: 3 (Willis, Murray, Briscoe). Technical Fouls: None.

LSU

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Blakeney

23

3-9

0-0

0-0

1

2

6

Hornsby

28

3-6

1-2

0-4

2

2

9

Simmons

27

5-5

4-6

3-10

3

2

14

Victor II

36

3-11

9-14

4-12

1

4

15

Quarterman

31

9-15

1-2

6-10

7

1

21

Sampson

6

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Robinson III

5

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

2

0

Gray

9

1-4

2-2

0-0

2

1

4

Patterson

23

2-5

2-4

2-3

1

0

6

Bridgewater

1

1-1

0-0

0-1

0

0

2

Epps

9

3-4

0-0

1-1

0

2

8

Malone

2

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Totals

200

30-61

19-30

16-46

17

16

85

Percentages: FG .492, FT .633. 3-Point Goals: 6-14, .429 (Epps 2-2, Hornsby 2-3, Quarterman 2-4, Patterson 0-1, Victor II 0-1, Blakeney 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Hornsby, Simmons, Victor II, Quarterman). Turnovers: 9 (Hornsby 2, Gray 2, Simmons 2, Blakeney, Victor II). Steals: 8 (Simmons 2, Hornsby 2, Epps, Patterson, Gray, Victor II). Technical Fouls: Bench.

Kentucky

27

40

67

LSU

37

48

85

A—13,573. Officials—Doug Shows, Pat Adams, Joe DeRosa.

Next game

Kentucky at Alabama

Saturday, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)

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