Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after Kentucky’s 73-71 loss to LSU

Instant analysis from No. 5 Kentucky’s 73-71 loss to No. 19 LSU:

How the game was won

Kavell Bigby-Williams tipped in a shot that the Rupp Arena crowd felt should have been offensive goaltending just ahead of the final buzzer to give No. 19 LSU a controversial, last-second win in Rupp Arena.

Game balls

1. Tremont Waters. On a night when the LSU point guard star shot 3-for-13, he still controlled the game with his keen floor sense and finished with 15 points and five assists.

2. Emmitt Williams. The LSU freshman scored 10 huge second-half points to help the Tigers rally from an eight-point halftime deficit.

3. Kavell Bigby-Williams. Whether you think the officials blew an offensive goaltending call or not, the English center scored a bucket that will live long in LSU lore.

4. P.J. Washington. Kentucky was lost when its foul-plagued sophomore star was out of the game.

Reasons for worry

1. Kentucky point-guard play. Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley combined to shoot 3-for-10, 1-for-5 on treys, and combined for one assist and three turnovers.

2. UK foul shooting. LSU hit 19 of 22 free throws; UK made 16 of 23. That was the ball game.

3. Kentucky perimeter defense. In its past two games, UK is having a hard time staying in front of dribble penetration by the opposing lead guard.

Key number(s)

Five. With its victory, LSU became the fifth SEC school to beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena during the John Calipari coaching era (which started in 2009-10). Arkansas, Florida (twice), Tennessee and Texas A&M are the other four.

The Cat-mosphere

1. Before the game, UK recognized its 14 2018-19 inductees into the Frank G. Ham Society of Character, which included football standout C.J. Conrad, women’s basketball standout Taylor Murray, softball star Abbey Cheek and men’s basketball walk-on Jonny David, among others.

2. UK alumnus Darian Sanders rocked the national anthem in Rupp Arena for the second time this month. Sanders also sang the anthem before the Kentucky women’s basketball team beat Florida on Feb. 3.

3. Tony Delk, star of Kentucky’s 1995-96 NCAA Tournament championship team, was the ‘Y.’

4. The attendance was announced at 23,490.

Up next

No. 5 Kentucky (20-4, 9-2 SEC) will face No. 1 Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) at 8 p.m. Saturday in Rupp Arena in a game that will be telecast by ESPN.

Before facing UK, Rick Barnes and the Volunteers will play SEC rival South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Thompson-Boling Arena on the UT campus in Knoxville.

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Tennessee 154-71.

Rick Barnes with UT stars.JPG
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and standouts Grant Williams (2) and Admiral Schofield (5) have driven the Volunteers (22-1, 10-0 SEC) to the No. 1 ranking in the AP men’s college basketball poll. Mark Humphrey AP

Know your foe

1. As Tennessee head man, Rick Barnes is 4-3 vs. Kentucky, including a sweep of last season’s regular-season meetings between the Volunteers and Wildcats in Knoxville (76-65) and Lexington (61-59). UK got some revenge on UT by besting the Vols, 77-72, in the 2018 SEC Tournament finals in St. Louis.

2. Of Tennessee’s 10 SEC victories, all but two have been by double-digit margins. The only close games UT has played so far in league play were a 71-68 win over Alabama in Knoxville Jan. 19 and a 88-83 overtime victory at Vanderbilt Jan. 23.

3. Tennessee is experienced and balanced. The Volunteers’ top six players, led by stars Grant Williams (19.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Admiral Schofield (16.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg), are all seniors (two), redshirt juniors (one) and juniors (three). Among those top six, five are averaging double-figure scoring and the sixth, senior big man Kyle Alexander, averages 8.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 1.9 blocked shots.


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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.