Playing in front of a sparse home crowd because of icy road conditions, forward Johnny O’Bryant scored a game-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and LSU blocked 11 shots to pull off an 87-82 upset of No. 11 Kentucky on Tuesday night at Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.
Attendance was reported at 6,139. Most of them were LSU students who braved the dangerous driving conditions and were treated to LSU’s most impressive victory of the season.
O’Bryant controlled the paint, making 12 of 20 shots, and freshman forward Jordan Mickey blocked five shots.
Mickey and senior guard Shavon Coleman added 14 points each, and LSU (13-6, 4-3 in the SEC) shot 50.8 percent (32 of 63).
Kentucky (15-5, 5-2) had trouble adjusting to LSU’s zone defense and shot just 43.8 percent (32 of 73).
Freshman forward Julius Randle, Kentucky’s leading scorer, struggled when LSU collapsed its zone and tried to force him to pass the ball out. Randle made just 3 of 11 shots and finished with six points, 10 below his average.
LSU led 42-36 at halftime, and guard Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer hit consecutive 3-pointers to extend the Tigers’ lead to 62-48 with 12:51 left. The Wildcats got no closer than five points in the final two minutes.
Kentucky was paced by guard James Young’s 23 points and reserve center Dakari Johnson’s 15.
O’Bryant, who led all scorers with 15 first-half points, hit five of his first six shots for 10 points as LSU built a 22-6 lead in the first 6:34. O’Bryant started things with a layup and a turnaround jumper, and Coleman and forward Jarell Martin followed up with 3-pointers.
LSU usually plays man defense, but its 2-3 zone was effective early, forcing the Wildcats to miss eight of their first 11 shots. Young, however, hit a 3-pointer, a jumper in the lane, a 17-footer and then a left-handed jam on an alley-oop feed as Kentucky cut the deficit to 29-27.
Young had 12 first-half points for Kentucky, but LSU hit five 3-pointers to lead 42-36 at intermission.
NOTES: LSU public address announcer Dan Borne had some fun with the icy conditions, using a variation of the theme that it “never rains in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.” Borne told the crowd: “Welcome to the Ice Dome. It’s 25 degrees outside, but chance of snow? Never.” … The LSU student section was about 80 percent filled, but the rest of Pete Maravich Assembly Center had plenty of empty seats. … LSU had not scored more than 55 points in four of its last five games against Kentucky.
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