Five things you need to know from Kentucky’s frustrating 65-60 loss to LSU

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Derick Hingle/AP
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Five things you need to know from the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats’ 65-60 loss to the No. 21 LSU Tigers in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center:

1. Cats lose top two “quarterbacks.” By the time the game was over, Kentucky would lose its top two points guards.

UK lost starting lead guard Sahvir Wheeler for the game with 16:07 left in the first half. The transfer from Georgia was pressuring the ball in the backcourt when he unknowingly ran full speed into a pick being set by LSU 7-foot, 238-pound freshman Efton Reid near midcourt.

Wheeler dropped to the floor and stayed there for a protracted period.

When he was finally gotten up with assistance from UK support staff, Wheeler looked unsteady on his feet.

He was taken to the Kentucky locker room and never returned.

UK prized freshman TyTy Washington slid over to the point in Wheeler’s absence and was playing proficiently.

With Washington at the controls, UK built a 50-41 lead with 13:06 left in the game behind some scalding three-point shooting from Kellan Grady (four made treys) and Davion Mintz (two) in the first seven minutes of the second half.

However, Washington appeared to suffer from cramping with 10:26 left in the game. He, too, was assisted to the Kentucky locker room.

In a display of grit, Washington returned to the game down the stretch. But he was limping, and UK Coach John Calipari correctly took him back out.

With its two primary ball handlers unavailable and/or in distress, Kentucky was outscored 24-10 in the final 13:06.

2. Cats vulnerable in the 60s. After UK lost 66-62 at Notre Dame on Dec. 11, Calipari and the Kentucky brain trust emphasized the need for the Cats to play fast.

Over UK’s next four games — wins over North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Missouri and High Point — Kentucky averaged 92 points a game.

However, against a physical, defensive-oriented LSU roster, UK again looked vulnerable against foes that can keep them out of the open court and force the Cats to have to execute in the half court.

Of course, the injury issues at point guard for Kentucky have to be factored into that.

3. Free-throw follies. For all its problems, UK (11-3, 1-1 SEC) would have beaten LSU (13-1, 1-1 SEC) had the Wildcats hit foul shots.

UK — a 74.1-percent foul shooting team entering the contest — finished 10-of-20 from the foul line.

Kentucky backup big man Lance Ware — who played with good energy and hustle — went 0-of-4 from the line. UK star Oscar Tshiebwe went 0-of-3.

Hard to beat a ranked team on the road when you miss half your free throws.

4. Calipari in SEC road openers. With the loss, Kentucky is now 9-4 during the John Calipari coaching era (since 2009-10) in its first SEC road game.

Under Calipari, UK is now 1-2 against LSU when the Wildcats face the Tigers in their first SEC road game.

In 2015-16, the Wildcats lost 85-67 to LSU in their initial Southeastern Conference road contest.

The 2017-18 Cats beat LSU 74-71 in the Maravich Assembly Center in their first SEC game on an opponent’s home court.

5. Honoring Dale Brown. LSU named the court at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in honor of Brown, the longtime, former Tigers head coach.

Brown, 86, coached at LSU from 1972 through 1997, going 448-301 and leading the Tigers to the Final Four in 1981 and 1986.

Though he lost 33 times in 51 meetings against UK, Brown’s 18 victories over the Wildcats are the most by any opposing head coach.

The top five all-time in coaching victories over Kentucky: 1. Dale Brown, LSU, 18; 2. Billy Donovan, Florida, 17; 3. Ray Mears, Tennessee, Bobby Knight Indiana, 15; 5. Roy Skinner, Vanderbilt, 14.

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Box score from Kentucky basketball’s 65-60 SEC loss at LSU

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Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler injured early in game against LSU