A buzzer-beating tip propelled LSU to a stunning SEC road win at Rupp Arena as the Tigers knocked off Kentucky, 73-71, on Tuesday night.
Senior big man Kavell Bigby-Williams tipped in a Skylar Mays miss for the final LSU bucket as referees reviewed the play and determined it was good (basket interference is not reviewable, but it wasn’t necessary either way). The decision led to an uproar from Big Blue Nation, but ultimately it was correct to score this a bucket. Even if refs missed the initial goaltending on Kentucky that they should have called in the first place.
The win means LSU remains only one loss behind No. 1 Tennessee in the SEC standings as the Tigers have been one of the hottest teams in the country. Winners of 13 of their last 14 games, LSU is unbeaten on the road in SEC play as they’ve quietly amassed a credible amount of solid victories.
The Tigers didn’t find themselves in the NCAA’s early top-16 projection over the weekend. They only rated as No. 5 seed in our latest CBT Bracketology from Dave Ommen from this weekend. After a road win at Kentucky, it might be time to start taking LSU more seriously in the SEC, and national, landscape.
Pulling out a massive road win is one thing. But LSU is a young team that needed to grind this win out until the very last tip-in to secure its most important win of the season. Up to this point, head coach Will Wade has built a top-25 program, mostly on-paper, based on strong recruiting classes and returning players. Tuesday’s win is tangible proof that LSU isn’t just a roster of McDonald’s All-Americans who need seasoning. The Tigers are ready to compete with any team in the country this season.
On a night where star sophomore point guard Tremont Waters (15 points, five assists) and Mays (11 points) each went only 3-for-13 from the field and freshman big man Naz Reid (12 points, seven rebounds) struggled with foul trouble and consistency, LSU still fought back when they were down in the second half. Javonte Smart struggled to a 2-for-7 shooting night. The Tigers were only 28 percent (6-for-21) from three-point range.
Part of LSU’s comeback was the strong play of freshman forward Emmitt Williams as his relentless energy led to him finishing 5-for-5 from the field for 12 points, six rebound and two blocks. With Reid in foul trouble, the Tigers were able to still limit Kentucky’s deep and talented frontcourt group despite not having a full assortment of weapons. It speaks to the depth that Wade has built through recruiting while also to his coaching staff guiding a young team to this point in the season.
With a 6-2 record in both quadrant 1 and quadrant 2 scenarios, LSU’s NCAA tournament credibility is quickly on the rise. And at 10-1 in SEC play, they’re right on the heels of Tennessee. The schedule is also favorable for the Tigers down the stretch as the road game at Tennessee is the only scheduled game against a major opponent.
But the most fun thing about LSU in all of this is the ceiling this team possesses the final few months of the season. If LSU can manage a road win at Rupp Arena during an off-night from four key players, then what is this team capable of when multiple guys are playing at their best?