No. 4 Kentucky beats LSU 81-55
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—Kentucky didn’t have one of its best games Saturday. The fourth-ranked Wildcats didn’t need it to cruise past LSU.
The Wildcats started slow, trailing 6-1 4:29 into the game. But they went on a 22-0 run in the first half to take control and pulled away to an 81-55 victory.
“It just shows you how young these guys are,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of his team that starts three freshmen. “They revert. They have game slippage.”
Freshman DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 13 rebounds, his sixth straight double-double.
Cousins, who played only 20 minutes, is eighth in the country in doubles-doubles with 14 and 24th in the nation in rebounding.
Cousins said they were hard earned against LSU.
“Every time I came down the court I got elbowed in the jaw,” he said. “It’s not even looked at or called.”
The Wildcats (22-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) ended the early drought when John Wall, another freshman star, hit a jumper for their first field goal. They needed only 3 minutes to erase LSU’s lead, scoring 41 of the next 49 points to take a 42-14 halftime lead.
“It was pure physicality, strength and being better players,” LSU coach Trent Johnson said.
Patrick Patterson had 16 points for Kentucky and Eric Bledsoe, the third freshman starter, added 10. The Tigers limited Wall to a season-low six points on 2-of-9 shooting. It marked only the second time that Wall failed to reach double figures this season.
“The guys on Kentucky’s team are absolute animals, Cousins, Patterson, all of them are physical,” LSU guard Bo Spencer said. “They are big and wide, they’re hard to get around.”
LSU (9-14, 0-9) shot less than 19 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 26.7 percent overall (21 of 66).
Spencer led LSU with 25 points, 19 in the second half, but he had seven turnovers. Tasmin Mitchell added 10 points for the Tigers.
The margin of defeat matched LSU’s biggest of the season. LSU lost to Connecticut by the same score in the NIT Season Tipoff in November.
LSU, which won the conference last season, is still searching for its first league victory in this one.
The Tigers played scrappy defense, but had a hard time slowing down the much bigger and faster Wildcats, who average 82.4 points a game. Kentucky outscored LSU 34-14 in the paint and allowed the Tigers no second-chance or fast-break points.
Kentucky outrebounded LSU 53-31
The Wildcats led by as many as 33 points, taking control and allowing Calipari to play most of his bench, which provided 22 points.
“Kentucky is a really great team,” Mitchell said. “They’ve got everything they need and they play hard. I don’t see why they aren’t No. 1 in the country.”