- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU had a dream of upsetting No. 1 Kentucky, but it quickly turned into a nightmare. The Tigers (12-9, 2-5) hung within 10 points of the Wildcats (21-1, 7-0) for most of an entertaining first half, but the Kentucky talent put on the afterburners in the second period, cruising to a 74-50 win.
Punch for punch: LSU made a bid for the lead late in the first half, when the Tigers staged a six-point rally to come within four points of the Wildcats. With a crowd of 10,060 spurring them on, the Tigers looked poised to make a run. But Kentucky responded beautifully to the test.
After a Johnny O'Bryant basket cut the lead to 25-22, the Wildcats proceeded to make baskets on three-straight trips down the floor. Darius Miller and Marquis Teague sank 3-pointers, and Terrence Jones added to pull up jumper, and in a matter of moments the lead had gone from three to seven. After retaking the momentum, the Wildcats went into halftime with a nine-point lead and never looked back.
"I know what a good team looks like. That’s a good team," said LSU coach Trent Johnson. "They have the potential to be a great team. There’s six guys on that team that are going to play for money."
Hamilton neutralized: Justin Hamilton has been the driving force for LSU in conference play this season, and Kentucky took notice. The Wildcats completely took Hamilton out of the equation, forcing him into two fouls in the first six minutes of the game.
He didn't fare much better after halftime, picking up his third foul shortly after the break. He finished with a pedestrian seven points and just three rebounds -- well below his season averages of 13.9 and 7.4.
Hamilton's replacement, Malcolm White, had an even worse day. White picked up three fouls and no points going against the Kentucky frontcourt. He was ejected in the second half for a harsh flagrant foul on UK forward Anthony Davis.
Stars shine: At the very least, LSU fans got to take a look at the Wildcats' plethora of NBA-caliber talent. Kentucky's frontcourt tandem of Terrence Jones and Davis terrorized the Tigers all afternoon. Jones shot an impressive 10-of-16 from the field, finishing with a game-high 27 points while chipping in nine boards.
"With Terrence Jones' length and mobility and Anthony Davis’ length and mobility, they can switch all your stuff, so basically they can have a post guy guarding a guard," Johnson said.
Despite injuring his right shoulder in the first half, Davis finished the game with a solid double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The duo played a big role in shutting down the LSU attack, combining for six blocks while frustrating the Tigers' big men all day.
3dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon