Anytime there is a catfight, one cat has to win. And if you stood a Bengal Tiger next to a Wildcat, there really isn't any question who is going to win is there? Well, this is not the National Geographic Channel, so things are not quite that simple. UK Hoops took their 21-2, 10-0 record into the bayou and got swamped, simple as that.
From the opening whistle it was quite evident what LSU's strategy was going to be. They were big, they were deliberate, and they were patient. The game was played at a snail's pace, with UK expending so much energy on defense, that the offense never was able to make some outside shots that would have opened up that wall of a zone defense that LSU played, and UK could not play through the zone and consistently questionable calls if the UK Radio network is to be believed. A full and detailed explanation after the jump.
Combine a stingy zone and 4-18 shooting from outside for UK and you could have guessed the outcome here. Normally it is the UK defense denying their opponent the chances at the basket, and they did just that, but when you live by the sword you can definitely die by the sword, and UK's normally efficient 3 pt shooting and fast break offense were nowhere to be found, as LSU simply lumbered through, threw over, and took every cheap foul against UK's pressure D.
A'dia Mathies led UK with 12 pts, Keyla Snowden followed with 11, but the rest of the UK offense was nowhere to be found as LSU's front line size negated UK's normally tough inside presence. Only Azia Bishop avoided fouling against LSU, and here minutes were limited. Bria Goss had 4, 5 others had 3, and everyone else had at least 2. LSU made 25-31 from the line, making the most of those questionable calls mentioned above.
Going into this game, the Hoops squad knew that LSU would be a tough out at home, but when the opponent shoots that many fouls and you are limited to 5-11, the outcome is pretty much a done deal. UK only led once, early on in the game, and with LSU having a 32-18 advantage on the boards, there was just no turning the tide to UK's favor.
LSU broke a 5 game losing streak, and UK's 10 game SEC winning streak came to a screeching halt. OK, so that's history. Going undefeated in the SEC is not just tough to do, is nigh on to impossible, so UK losing one along the way was probably bound to happen, and they still maintained their lead as UT lost this week to S.Carolina, so instead of keeping that 2 game spread, they now hold a single game lead over the Lady Vols. They will have a week to prepare for them and their trip to Knoxville, and a chance to rebound and complete a sweep of the Tennessee, something which the Cats have never done, to my knowledge.
Tennessee is big, but not as big as LSU, and their style of play is more to UK's liking. Make no mistake,however, UT is going to be looking for blood next Monday night, and ESPN2 is going to be there to catch the whole thing live and in person, so the live game thread will be up, and we need every DreadHead we can find to join in. UK needs to nail down 2 of these 3 road games they have in a row to maintain their lead in the SEC.
Look for Coach Matthew Mitchell to regroup UK and get them once again on the winning track. Mitchell probably won't put too much stock in this game, except to get a point across to them that there are teams that will try to outmuscle you, and LSU did just that. Of course a few choice whistles don't hurt anything either, and LSU should enjoy the win. You will not see a Matthew Mitchell coached team fall prey to that very often.
All in all, a bad game. They happen. Even to the best of teams. Time to learn from this one and move on