The LSU Tigers had already knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats earlier this season and went for a rare season sweep of one of college basketball’s elite on Saturday afternoon in Lexington.
No. 18 Kentucky led 35-32 at halftime with Aaron Harrison leading the Wildcats with his 11 points, but Johnny O’Bryant III kept LSU within reach with 10 points and five rebounds and this game would continue to be tight late into the game.
Anthony Hickey drained a huge three-pointer to put LSU up 64-63 with 1:46 remaining after the two previous trips on offense resulted in an O’Bryant offensive foul and a turnover.
After each team traded stops on the defensive end, Kentucky had the ball trailing by one with 46.9 seconds remaining. Coming out of a timeout, Kentucky missed on a jumper that was rebounded by Jarell Martin.
Kentucky was forced to foul LSU with the shot clock turned off and Andre Stringer went to the line and missed the front end of two shots, but sank the second to give LSU a 65-63 lead with 20 seconds remaining.
Andrew Harrison drew a foul on Shavon Coleman with 10.9 seconds left on a questionable call at best and promptly sank both free throws to tie it at 65. Coleman played textbook defense and went straight up but was called for a foul showing Kentucky is the benefit of a home court advantage.
Hickey’s desperation three at the buzzer drew iron and the game went to overtime.
O’Bryant scored on LSU’s first two possessions in the extra period as the teams traded buckets, but another monster trey from Hickey and a layup put LSU up 74-71 with less than two remaining.
After a frenetic scramble on the Kentucky end with under a minute remaining and LSU nursing a one-point lead in a hostile environment, O’Bryant pulled down the rebound on a miss by Julius Randle.
O’Bryant had his shot attempt blocked with 30 seconds on the clock and Kentucky sprinted to their end and was fouled by Hickey, who fouled out with 20 points.
James Young sank both free throws to take a one-point lead but Stringer answered with a bucket to give LSU a one-point lead with 11.5 to go, but Kentucky’s Randle pulled down the offensive rebound, his 15th of the game, and sank the game-winner with 3.9 to give Kentucky a 77-76 win. Randle only had six points prior to the put-back.
LSU was firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament prior to Saturday afternoon’s game and a win likely would have been them among the last four to get in the tournament, but this loss all but assures LSU will have to win out which included a Mar. 1 game at soon-to-be No. 1 Florida.
Next up for LSU is a Feb. 26 date with the Texas A&M Aggies at Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 7:00 p.m. CT.