BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — P.J. Washington scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and No. 17 Kentucky held off feisty LSU 74-71 on Wednesday night.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capped his 18-point night with two free throws with 16 seconds left, and Kevin Knox had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats (12-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), who survived their first true road test this season.
Duop Reath had 24 points and 11 rebounds for LSU (9-4, 0-1), which missed two 3-point attempts that could have tied it in the final seconds.
Tremont Waters had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but his attempt to tie the game with a late 3 was off-balance and way off-target. The ball deflected out of bounds off Kentucky, giving LSU 0.8 seconds to get off one more shot, but Brandon Sampson’s right corner bounced off the far rim as time expired.
Kentucky trailed 36-31 at halftime, but Washington asserted himself in the second half with an array of power moves, getting free along the baseline for three dunks in a 3-minute span to help Kentucky move in front. He also got the roll and the call when he collided with Sampson under the hoop on a fast break, completing a three-point play that gave Kentucky a 67-65 lead.
Gilgeous-Alexander also came through late, hitting a driving scoop as he was fouled to put Kentucky ahead 71-67 with 1:22 left
Kentucky scored the game’s first seven points capped by Knox’s 3, but LSU began to chip away, thanks in no small part to a defensive effort that produced 11 first-half Wildcat turnovers.
The Tigers tied it at 18 after Reath hit a 3 and layup in succession. Reath scored 13 points in the first half, when Waters scored 10.
LSU led by as many as five in the first half when Aaron Epps, who finished with 13 points, hit a left-wing 3 to make it 36-31, a score that stood until halftime.
Kentucky: The Wildcats did not block a shot or attempt a free throw in the first half, reflecting a style of play that was too passive for coach John Calipari’s liking. That changed in the second half, when the Wildcats scored 30 points in the paint, blocked three shots and attempted 13 free throws.
LSU: The Tigers went 5 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half, but missed their first eight attempts from deep in the second half, giving UK more chances to use its athleticism in transition. LSU came in 7-0 when leading at halftime, but protecting a five-point halftime lead against a team like Kentucky was going to require a better performance down the stretch.
Kentucky hosts No. 23 Tennessee on Saturday.
LSU visits No. 11 Texas A&M on Saturday.
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