The LSU men’s basketball team (13-1, 1-1) got its biggest win of the 2021-2022 season by beating the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats 65-60 Tuesday on a night when the PMAC court was officially named Dale Brown Court in honor of the former men’s basketball head coach.
The Tigers rallied back from a nine-point second half deficit thanks to its defense which held Kentucky to 10 points over the final 13 minutes.
“It was a good win. I wish we would have closed it out a little bit better. I did not think we had a great start to the second half, to state the obvious,” Will Wade said. “But I thought our guys played really hard. We were able to overcome some of our deficiencies because we played so hard. We did a nice job on the backboards. We battled really hard on the glass. You have to protect your home court in SEC play, and we were able to do that.”
While LSU went in up five at the half, Kentucky blitzed the Tigers coming out of the break with a 14-2 run to go up seven. A Kellan Grady three-pointer pushed the Wildcat lead to nine and that’s when LSU would respond by finishing the game on a 24-10 run.
Tuesday’s win can be summarized in the 46-second clip below. With LSU clinging to a one-point advantage, Tari Eason forced a turnover that he would cash in with a dunk to push LSU’s lead to three, and then Xavier Pinson would force yet another turnover that he too would turn into points. 65-60. Have a safe trip home, Kentucky.
Freshman guard Brandon Murray returned to the floor after missing last week’s game at Auburn with a hamstring injury. While he would foul out, Murray scored 10 points and provided some much needed shooting from deep and knocked down two of three attempts.
“It felt good,” Murray said. “I know my guys, they were just getting me right, basically just saying they just needed me and stuff, and I just knew I had to come back and just do what I had to do, just be that energy guy, just play my game.”
Tuesday night was also one of the best games we’ve seen out of sophomore guard Eric Gaines. Gaines is chaotic energy on the floor and coming off the bench he showed why he can be so valuable: 8 points, 4 steals, 3 assists.
“As far as Eric, he’s been down a little bit, everybody has been on him,” Xavier Pinson said. “He’s been through a lot, and for him to step up and show what he did today, I know I’m speaking for myself, but I know the whole team is very proud of him.”
“That was big time. Big time players step up in big time moments in big time games, and that’s what Eric Gaines did tonight,” Tari Eason added.
Speaking of Eason, he was once again LSU’s leading scorer with 13 points in 30 minutes of work off the bench. He was fearless in the interior getting to the line seven times and showed off a well rounded game with six rebounds and three assists.
Looking at the box score LSU and Kentucky were evenly matched. They were virtually identical from three (8-24 for Kentucky, 9-23 for LSU), had the same amount of rebounds, turnovers, and points in the paint (39, 15, and 24 respectively), and the bench production was nearly 1:1 with Kentucky getting 32 points from its reserves and LSU getting 29. Sometimes basketball boils down to makes versus misses and LSU got just a few more makes than Kentucky.
LSU has now won 12 in a row inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. They’ll put that streak on the line Saturday evening as the Tigers host No. 18 Tennessee. Tipoff is set for 5:00 P.M. and will be carried on ESPN2.