Young Cats win first road game in nail-biter with LSU


Freshman Guard Quade Green takes a penalty shot after a foul by Georgia. Sunday, December 31, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Edward Justice | Staff

Chase Campbell

The young UK basketball team faced its first true road test of the season on Wednesday against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. The Cats overcame a poor first half performance to just defeat LSU 74-71.

Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant string of games for the Cats, racking up 18 points, four assists and two steals. He started the game by committing three turnovers in the first half, but corrected his performance in the second by committing no more turnovers.

The game looked like it belonged to UK from the tipoff as the Cats opened the game with a 7-0 run, but the Tigers came back thanks in large part to 13 first-half points and six first-half rebounds from forward Duop Reath.

Thanks to Reath’s efforts, the Tigers led 36-31 at halftime. The Cats went the whole first half without a free throw attempt and weren’t able to slow down LSU’s inside attack, giving up 20 of the 36 allowed points in the paint.

UK responded to the halftime deficit by making 10 of its first 12 field goal attempts out of halftime, thanks to a forceful effort from forward P.J. Washington, who scored 14 second-half points, giving him 18 points for the game. He added six rebounds and two blocks to the effort, giving UK the boost to win their first true road game.

The game never got away from either team, as the lead was never more than seven points for either school. Down the stretch, UK had a slim three-point lead with 16 seconds to go in the game after Gilgeous-Alexander knocked down a pair of free throws.

LSU’s Tremont Waters attempted to draw a foul on Gilgeous-Alexander during a three-point attempt the next position, but didn’t hit the shot or get the whistle. The ball bounced off the hands of Kevin Knox (16 pts, 11 reb, 7-12) out of bounds with 0.8 seconds remaining, giving LSU one more shot to tie the game.

The Tigers missed the three-pointer from the corner, and the Cats walked away with the victory in their first true road game of the season.

The young Cats don’t have much time before their next road test, as they’ll go to Knoxville Jan. 6 to face the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers.