John Calipari talked about this team playing more deliberately instead of flying up and down the court.
That was the case in the first half, and it paid off for the Cats who jumped out to an early 9-5 lead.
LSU was not going to let this one get away from them early as they battled back to take a 16-15 lead at the under 12 media timeout.
Late in the first half, Kentucky was on the verge of blowing this game open after it appeared Cason Wallace had an and-one opportunity coming off a missed free throw.
However, one of the worst offensive foul calls I have ever seen took those points off the board, followed by another phantom foul on the other end allowing LSU to stay in the game with Kentucky leading 33-28 with 4 minutes to play.
Both teams closed out the half well offensively, but it was Kentucky taking the 42-38 lead into the break.
Kentucky started hot in the second half as a bucket from Tshiebwe, a three from Wallace, and a layup from Toppin gave them a 49-41 lead.
With just over 12 minutes remaining, Tshiebwe converted an and-one to finally push the lead to double digits making it 58-48.
Unfortunately, Kentucky couldn’t put the Tigers away as they fought their way back into the game and with just under 7 minutes to play it was a 60-58 ballgame.
It looked like Kentucky had regained control of this game leading it 67-61. However, LSU battled back to make it a 67-66 game with 2 minutes to go.
Down the stretch, Kentucky didn’t make it easy on themselves but were able to do just enough to escape with the 74-71 win.
It was a big night for two players as Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler both delivered very good performances for the Cats, making them tonight’s Co-MVP’s.
Tshiebwe was exactly what we have all come to expect from the big man as he finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a block.
However, he struggled some on the defensive end which will need to improve going forward. It is worth noting that KJ Williams is a very tough matchup for Tshiebwe defensively.
As for Wheeler, this might have been the best game he has played this season as he finished with 11 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and committed just 2 turnovers.
Wheeler was running Kentucky’s offense very efficiently and was making threes when he needed to.
This offense runs a lot better when Wheeler is playing at a high level and that is exactly what we saw tonight. Hopefully, he can continue to string together performances like this.