- Saturday, February 16 2008 -
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||9||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Louisiana State - 63 (Head Coach: Butch Pierre) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Louisiana State 30, Kentucky 28
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Vanderbilt 52 - 93|||||Georgia 61 - 55|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Bayou Bounceback: UK topples LSU
Shaquille O'Neal was in the house. A host of other LSU greats were as well. Too bad for the Tigers they didn't have any eligibility remaining.
Kentucky erased the memory of a 41-point loss to Vanderbilt earlier in the week to hold on for a 67-63 victory over the Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. It was the Cats' sixth win in seven games and keeps their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Like they have so many times before during their resurgence in Southeastern Conference play the Cats had to sweat out the final minutes, making just enough clutch plays to survive a tense battle. In the Cats' seven league wins their margin of victory has been a razor-thin six points per game.
"It says something about toughness," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. "A lot of people want to get down on you (after losing) but we never got down."
After trailing virtually the entire first half UK righted itself with a quick 9-0 run at the outset of the second half to take an eight-point lead. The charge was led by Joe Crawford who scored 16 of his team-high 21 points after intermission, including 11 in the first nine minutes.
With LSU breathing down their neck, the Cats were bailed out by Crawford again when the 6-foot-4 senior launched a rainbow three-pointer over LSU's 6-foot-11 Chris Johnson that gave UK a 57-53 lead with 5:21 remaining in the contest.
"When I came off the screen I was wide open but he covers so much ground so fast I didn't think I had enough time," Crawford said. "He was right up on me and I knew I had to get it higher and fortunately it went in. I saw the rim when I was first open but by the time I let it go I couldn't see the rim. It's natural."
A hoarse Gillispie couldn't praise Crawford enough after the final buzzer had finally sounded.
"Joe Crawford was fantastic today," UK coach Billy Gillispie said. "That's the way seniors are supposed to play at this point in the season. Everybody pitched in. Our defense and rebounding got it done late.
Strangely, Gillispie went with the same five players for the entire second half after playing nine different guys in the first 20 minutes. Crawford, Patrick Patterson, Ramel Bradley, Derrick Jasper and Perry Stevenson not only didn't take a breather but looked like the fresher team in the closing minute.
It wasn't easy though.
LSU freshman Anthony Randolph had a chance to tie the game at 61 with 1:25 on the clock but the second of his two free throws missed and UK rebounded. Bradley, who reverted to some of the questionable decision making down the stretch under heavy duress from LSU's Garrett Temple, walked in the lane on the next possession and LSU called a timeout with 54.0 seconds left.
In an effort to get a two-for-one possession, LSU leading scorer Marcus Thornton launched an off balance three from the left wing that barely grazed the rim with 40 seconds left. The Tigers then fouled Jasper, a 42.9 percent free throw shooter, with just 27.6 ticks on the clock. The front end of the one-and-one hit the back of the rim, bounced high into the air and then rattled home before he swished the second to give UK a 63-60 lead.
LSU missed another three when Johnson knicked the rim with a NBA length bomb and Bradley finished off the Tigers by making all four of his free throws in the final 9.7 seconds.
"It was a total team effort," Crawford said.
The kind UK will need more of down the stretch with every game serving as a de facto elimination game.
Chris Johnson (#21) shoots over UK's Patrick Patterson (#54)
Ramel Bradley (#3) fouls LSU's Garrett Temple after losing the ball