Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler left the game with an injury at the 16:07 mark in the first half and never returned after slamming into LSU’s Efton Reid, LSU’s 7-foot foot center on a high ball screen. Oscar Tshiebwe then picked up his second foul at the 11:23 mark and did not play the rest of the half, leaving the Wildcats without two of its top players in its first true road test in the SEC.
TyTy Washington took over the point guard duties and ultimately was helped off the court just under the 10-minute mark in the second half with his own injury which left Davion Mintz as the primary ball handler. Washington re-entered the game with six minutes remaining but was hobbled with a leg cramp as LSU went on a 20-3 run late to seal the win.
Trailing 61-58 with 51.8 seconds remaining, the Wildcats had one last chance as Mintz got into the lane and scored to cut the lead to 61-60 before a couple of turnovers resulted in a pair of LSU dunks to give the Tigers the victory.
Mintz led the Wildcats with 16 points, while Jacob Toppin added 14. Kellan Grady finished with 13 points as Kentucky shot just 33.3% from three-point range on 8/24 shooting.
The Wildcats, 11-3, 1-1, hosts Georgia on Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
Jacob Toppin and Kellan Grady get Co-MVP honors as each played a pivotal role in helping the Wildcats stay competitive in each half.
In the absence of Wheeler (injury) and Tshiebwe (foul trouble), Toppin kept Kentucky in the game in the first half, scoring 13 points that included a tomahawk dunk off a loose ball, an acrobatic reverse lay-up, and a baseline jumper right before the horn to end the half.
In the second half, Grady took over, hitting four three pointers and allowing the Kentucky offense to find some rhythm in the absence of Wheeler. But it was too little, too late as the Kentucky offense looked out of sorts late with issues at the point guard spot.
Now all eyes turn to the training room as we wait on injury reports on Wheeler and Washington. Kentucky needs to get healthy quick to prepare for a grueling SEC schedule.