The home fans had to sweat out the finish, but Kentucky held on for a 75-70 win over LSU on Saturday at Rupp Arena. The Tigers rallied furiously in the final minutes, but came up a couple of three-pointers short.
Alex Poythress was the offensive hero for Kentucky, pouring in 20 points (including 8-of-10 free throws) to go with 12 boards. Nerlens Noel added 10 points and his usual overpowering inside game, blocking six shots and grabbing eight rebounds.
Johnny O'Bryant III nearly saved the Tigers with 21 points, but it wasn't enough. A couple of late three-pointers from Anthony Hickey helped get the Tigers as close as one point in the final seconds, but Kentucky hit just enough free throws to survive.
LSU's frenetic defense forced 17 Kentucky turnovers, many of them in whittling down what had been a double-digit, second-half lead. The Tigers' offense, though, wasn't up to the same standard, with Shavon Coleman and Charles Carmouche combining to shoot just 4-for-16 from the field.
Kentucky's guards deserve a lot of credit for carrying the scoring load in this one, as Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays combined for 35 points. The Wildcats' size advantage became less of a factor as O'Bryant heated up after halftime, but UK still won the battle on the glass, 34-23.
LSU showed a lot of heart on Saturday, but heart doesn't change a 1-5 SEC record. Kentucky gets a badly needed win, improving to 4-2 in conference as it tries to avoid going from the NCAA title to a spot in the NIT.