Kentucky improved to 21-5 overall and 11-2 in the SEC by defeating LSU 79-76 Tuesday night in Baton Rouge. Go beyond the box score to see the most impressive statistics from the Wildcats’ win.
Second Half Shooting
“In the second half we made the shots.”
John Calipari’s assessment tells the game’s entire story in one sentence. Ice cold from the field in the first half, shooting 31.6% and only 2-of-10 from behind the three-point line, Kentucky looked like a completely different team after halftime. The Wildcats made their first seven three-pointers (87.5%) to knock down 17-of-23 (73.9%) shots in the final 20 minutes. Kentucky had more made threes than missed second half field goals. It’s hard to lose when that happens.
Nick Richards blocked six shots Tuesday night in Baton Rouge. He was only one away from tying a career-high he set earlier this year against Lamar. As a team Kentucky finished with 11 blocks. In addition to the blocked shots, Richards forced two turnovers by taking a pair of charges. What can’t he do?
Nate Sestina finally surpassed the 1,000-career point threshold. The UK PR department has included a countdown in each edition of the game notes since Kentucky went on the road to South Carolina on January 15.
That number shrunk all the way to six before UK traveled to Tennessee. It took him three games to shake off the funk and become a 1,000-point scorer. Tuesday night he made three from long range to score 11 points.
By handing LSU its fourth loss in five games, the Tigers are now three games behind UK in the SEC standings, with the Wildcats holding the tiebreaker. Auburn is Kentucky’s lone contender to take the top spot in the SEC. Even though Auburn won the first head-to-head battle this season, ESPN’s BPI gives UK an 83% chance to win the SEC Regular Season Title. The rubber match at Rupp Arena is Saturday, Feb. 29 on CBS.
When Kentucky wins in Knoxville, Nashville and Baton Rouge, good things happen for the Wildcats. According to Corey Price, the last three seasons in which Kentucky won on the road at LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt: 2011-2012, 1997-1998, 1995-1996. Is it a coincidence that those are UK’s last three National Championship-winning seasons? I think not.