Takeaways from Kentucky Wildcats' Thrilling OT Win over LSU Tigers

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIFebruary 23, 2014

Kentucky's Julius Randle (30) looks for an opening on LSU's Jordan Mickey (25) and Jarell Martin during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 77-76. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

The No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats hosted the LSU Tigers Saturday with revenge on their minds. When UK faced the Tigers in Baton Rouge three weeks ago, LSU embarrassed the young Wildcats, leading by as many as 16 points in a game it led wire-to-wire.

It wasn't as close as the final 87-82 score made it appear to be, either, but Saturday's contest between the two was much closer. It ended up taking an overtime period to determine the winner, and it was here where UK would prevail, 77-76.

Here are four takeaways from the game.

Game of Runs

This was a game full of runs by both teams. LSU opened the game on a 6-0 run, only to watch UK answer with a 13-0 run of its own. 

After the Cats took a 35-28 lead with two minutes left in the first half, LSU proceeded to go on a 12-0 run into the second half to take a 40-35 lead. 

UK responded with a 12-3 run to reclaim the lead, but the Tigers simply would not go away. With 8:36 left and trailing 55-51, LSU went on an 8-2 run to surge back into the lead and look poised to upset the Cats at home.

From there, both teams would trade leads until the Cats finally won in OT after freshman forward Julius Randle hit the game-winning shot with three seconds left in the game. 

Randle the Rebounding Machine

After grabbing 13 rebounds in Tuesday's win over the Ole Miss Rebels, Randle grabbed 15 boards against the Tigers. It was his final rebound that led to his game-winning putback to win the game:

Credit for this GIF goes to SB Nation.

It wasn't a good offensive day for Randle, who only scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, but it was his final shot that ultimately mattered the most. 

He's now grabbed 12 or more boards in three straight games, and this was a nice bounce-back game for Randle after he got just five in the first matchup with LSU. 

Freshman Poise

The previous matchup with LSU saw UK's freshman-heavy team get embarrassed in Baton Rouge. Now at home in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena, UK played with a greater sense of urgency and effort that kept the team ahead for much of the contest, but the Tigers would rally late to take a 65-63 lead with 21 seconds left in the game. 

It was here where the Cats' freshmen took control. UK freshman point guard Andrew Harrison drew a foul, hit both free throws and sent the game into overtime.

From there, freshman guard James Young would score six points in the extra period, and freshmen ended up scoring 10 of the Cats' 12 points in OT.

Going back to the 5:53 mark in the second half to the end of the game, freshmen scored 20 of UK's final 22 points.

The Harrison twins, along with Young and Randle, carried the Cats to victory. This young team appears to be maturing and learning how to win close games. 

Containing O'Bryant

Junior forward Johnny O’Bryant III dominated in the first matchup, scoring 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds versus the Cats.

O'Bryant entered the game leading LSU in scoring at 15.4 points per game while making 51.2 percent of his field-goal attempts, but UK was able to contain him this time.

He did score 20 points, but it came on a woeful 8-of-25 shooting. Had he had a more efficient offensive game, the Tigers may have won handily in regulation instead of losing a heartbreaker in overtime. 

The Cats fought hard and played with good effort throughout while doing enough to certainly earn a win, and on this day, they made one more play than the Tigers did to get the win.

With just a month until the NCAA tournament begins, the Wildcats still have a lot of work to do, but a win like this gives them some positive momentum going forward. 

Jason Marcum is a student in the B/R advanced sports media program. You can find more of his work at Kentucky Sports Connection. Follow him on Twitter @JasonB_Marcum.


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