Five things you need to know about the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats’ 65-60 loss to the No. 21 LSU Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center:
1. Cats lose the first two “quarters”. At the end of the game, Kentucky would lose their top two pointers.
Great Britain lost starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler for the game with 16:07 left in the first half. Georgia’s transfer put pressure on the ball in the backcourt as he unknowingly ran full speed in a pick set by LSU’s 7-foot, 238-pound freshman Efton Reid near midfield.
Wheeler fell to the ground and remained there for an extended period.
When he finally got up with the help of British support personnel, Wheeler looked unsteady.
He was taken to the Kentucky locker room and never returned.
Popular UK freshman TyTy Washington slipped to the point in Wheeler’s absence and was playing competently.
With Washington in the driver’s seat, the UK took a 50-41 lead with 13:06 remaining in the game behind scorching three-pointers from Kellan Grady (four treys completed) and Davion Mintz (two) in the first seven. minutes of the second half.
However, Washington appeared to injure his ankle with 10:26 to go. He too was attended to the Kentucky locker room.
In a show of courage, Washington returned to the game down the home stretch. But he was limping and Britain coach John Calipari pulled him off correctly.
With their top two ball handlers unavailable and / or in distress, Kentucky were outdone 24-10 in the final at 1:06 pm.
2. Vulnerable cats in the 1960s. After the UK lost 66-62 at Notre Dame on December 11, Calipari and the Kentucky Brain Trust stressed the need for the Cats to play fast.
Over the UK’s next four games – wins over North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Missouri and High Point – Kentucky averaged 92 points per game.
However, against a list of physical and defensive LSUs, the UK have once again appeared vulnerable against enemies who can keep them from entering the court and force the Cats to have to execute in the half court.
Of course, the Kentucky point guard’s injury issues need to be considered.
3. The follies of free throws. For all his problems, United Kingdom (11-3, 1-1 SEC) would have beaten LSU (13-1, 1-1 SEC) if the Wildcats had managed free kicks.
UK – 74.1% foul shoot team participating in the contest – finished 10 of 20 from the foul line.
Kentucky backup big man Lance Ware – who played with good energy and good fuss – went 0 of 4 from the line. British star Oscar Tshiebwe scored 0 out of 3.
Hard to beat a ranked team on the road when you miss half of your free throws.
4. Calipari in SEC road openers. With the loss, Kentucky are now 9-4 during the coaching era of John Calipari (since 2009-10) in their first SEC road game.
Under Calipari, the UK are 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 first South Eastern Conference road game.
The 2017-18 Cats defeated LSU 74-71 at the Maravich Assembly Center in their first SEC game on an opponent’s field.
5. Tribute to Dale Brown. LSU named the Pete Maravich Assembly Center pitch after Brown, the longtime former head coach of the Tigers.
Brown, 86, coached at LSU from 1972-97, passing 448-301 and leading the Tigers to the Final Four in 1981 and 1986.
Despite losing 33 times in 51 games against the United Kingdom, Brown’s 18 wins against the Wildcats are the most important for any opposing head coach.
Top five coaches of all time against Kentucky: 1. Dale Brown, LSU, 18; 2. Billy Donovan, Florida, 17; 3. Ray Mears, Tennessee, Bobby Knight Indiana, 15; 5. Roy Skinner, Vanderbilt, 14.
This story was originally published January 4, 2022 9:39 pm.