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UK Basketball: 5 more thoughts and postgame notes from win at LSU

Kentucky gets a win in their first true road game of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky traveled to LSU for their first true road game of the season.

First true road games haven’t been very good for Kentucky under Cal, in the last 6 seasons Kentucky is 1-5 in said game before tonight and now has only won it 3 times under John Calipari.

In the first half, Kentucky struggled to hold on to the ball as the turned it over 11 times and just looked rattled in a hostile environment. The Cats jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead but both teams would go on runs throughout the half and LSU would go into halftime with a 36-31 lead.

The second half showed a much better performance from the young Cats as they had a 43-42 lead at the first media timeout. Both teams exchanged leads throughout the second half but in the end Kentucky made the plays and converted at the foul line and came away with a narrow 74-71 victory in their first true road game of the season.

After the game coach Cal said that the team had some illnesses to fight through stating that Hamidou Diallo, Nick Richards, and Sacha Killeya-Jones were all dealing with the flu. A gutsy performance to have that to deal with as well.

Thoughts on the game

PJ Washington was outstanding

PJ has been a player that is hard to figure out. At times he has looked unstoppable and other times he has struggled but fortunately for the Cats tonight he was unstoppable. Washington finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. LSU had no answer for him on the inside and they did a good job of getting him the ball in a good spot to score. A performance that we needed out of PJ to be able to get a tough win on the road.

Wenyen Gabriel provided energy again

Wenyen is not a player that we need to be a stat sheet filler but a guy that does the dirty work. Tonight, Wenyen had just 4 points but he grabbed 4 huge rebounds. Especially one late in the game off a missed free throw to give the Cats an extra possession. This team is a lot better when Wenyen is on the floor playing as hard as he does. He hustles on every play and fights for every rebound.

Kevin Knox bounced back

Coming into this game, Knox had struggled in the two games prior, and some fans were wondering what had happened. Tonight, Knox bounced back with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. A nice performance on the road in front of a tough crowd, not to mention a game that came down to the wire. UK needed every single point and rebound they got from Knox to win this game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues hot streak

The last three games have been great performances by Shai and tonight was no different. Shai had 18 points as well as 4 assists and made a pair of clutch free throws late with the Cats only up by 1. A knock down free throw shooter will be huge going forward and Kentucky has one in Shai.

Defense was not great

Although a lot of good can be said about the performance at LSU one not so good thing was the defensive performance. LSU was able to drive right past the Kentucky guards and get to the rim with ease. Kentucky also gave LSU a lot of open looks from behind the arc and luckily LSU only cashed in on 6 of them. However, late in the half with the game on the line the Cats stepped up and made a big defensive stop to win the game.

Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 12-2 and has won three in a row. LSU is 9-4. UK is 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. This was LSU’s league opener.
  • Kentucky leads the series 89-26 and has won three in a row vs. LSU.
  • UK leads the series 31-18 in Baton Rouge.
  • Kentucky’s next game will be another SEC road trip, this time to Tennessee for a 9 p.m. ET matchup on Saturday. SEC Network will televise the game.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the 12th time this season. UK is 9-2 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky race out to a 7-0 lead
  • Knox connected on a 3-pointer with 17:47 remaining, giving Kentucky 1,027 consecutive games with a 3-pointer
  • LSU used a 7-0 run over 1:10 to take its first lead 20-18 at the 8:35 mark
  • LSU outscored UK 13-6 over the last 6:10 of the first half
  • Knox grabbed eight rebounds, tying Wenyen Gabriel’s output from the last game (vs. Georgia) for the best rebounding first half of any Wildcat this season
  • Knox scored 10 first-half points
  • It was the fourth time he’s scored 10 or more in the first half, but the first time he’s done so since Dec. 2 vs. Harvard
  • UK did not attempt a free throw in the first half
  • That was the first time UK failed to shoot a free throw in a half since an 88-79 win at Florida on March 1, 2016. Remarkably, Kentucky shot 32 free throws in the second half of that game
  • UK had shot a combined 33 free throws (16 per half) in each of its previous two first halves
  • UK improved to 4-2 this season when trailing at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky used a 7-0 run over 1:30 to regain the lead, 43-42 at the 15:11 mark
  • Stretched over 1:48 it was a 9-0 run, which finished with UK leading 45-42
  • Washington had three dunks over 2:44 of play finishing at the 11:16 mark helping UK take a 56-52 lead into the under-12 media timeout
  • UK made seven straight field goals between the 15:53 and 11:16 marks
  • LSU used a 9-2 run over 2:57 to take a 65-64 lead at the 3:22 mark, which was the under-4 media timeout
  • Washington and Gilgeous-Alexander combined to score 15 of UK’s last 18 points over the final 11:15 of the game
  • After LSU went 5 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half, UK limited the Tigers to 1 of 13 from 3 in the second half

Team Notes

  • UK outrebounded LSU 35-34. The Wildcats have tied or outrebounded the opponent in 12 of 14 games this season.
  • UK’s 35 rebounds were its second fewest in a game this year (33 vs. Virginia Tech)
  • UK attempted a season-low 13 free throws
  • UK’s seven made free throws were its second fewest in a game this season
  • LSU’s 71 points were the fifth most by a UK opponent this season
  • LSU made 29 field goals. Only Virginia Tech (32) has made more vs. UK this year

Player Notes

  • Kevin Knox notched his team-leading second double-double of the season
  • He scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds
  • The 11 rebounds were a career high
  • He has scored in double figures in all but three games this year, but had not reached 10 points in the previous two games
  • PJ Washington finished with 18 points, two off his career high
  • He had two key traditional 3-point plays down the stretch, although he missed the free throw on the second one
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played the super-sub role again, coming off the bench to tie Washington for the team high in points with 18
  • He finished two points shy of a third-consecutive performance of 20 or more points
  • He finished with four assists, and has assisted at least four in three straight games
  • Wenyen Gabriel tied his career-high with three steals
  • He also pulled down four rebounds, including grabbing a Washington missed free throw late in the game

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 706-195 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 261-55 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 11-2 vs. LSU in his career.