LEXINGTON, Ky. — After a game-long dispute with the basketball gods, Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle said he was rewarded.
A loose ball off an errant attempt appeared in front of Randle right at the basket, and he went up with the ball and scored with 3.9 seconds left to give No. 18 Kentucky a 77-76 overtime win over the LSU Tigers on Saturday.
Randle only scored eight points, less than half of his season average, but his 15 rebounds came up big for the Wildcats. Kentucky had the last shot in overtime down 76-75, and forward James Young drove to the basket. His shot missed through contact, and no foul was called.
The ball floated in front of Randle, who caught it and went straight up with it.
“That was the basketball gods,” Randle said. “I mean, James was just being aggressive like he was the whole game, did a great job of getting to the paint, and if he put it on the rim or just put it up, I was going to get it. They had been trying to box me out the whole game, killing me, but luckily that one just fell right into my hands.”
LSU had about four seconds left, but it turned the ball over at half-court and did not get a final shot.
LSU guard Anthony Hickey hit a 28-footer with 1:46 left in regulation give the Tigers a 64-63 lead.
Shooting guard Andre Stringer hit 1 of 2 free throws with 20 seconds left, leaving room for Kentucky to tie the game or win with the last shot.
Point guard Andrew Harrison drove in to the lane and was fouled with 10.9 seconds to play. He made both, which sent the game to overtime.
LSU forward Johnny O’Bryant picked up where he left off the last time he played Kentucky. He scored the first six points of the game, including two pull-up jumpers from inside the three-point line. His 19-footer from the top of the key gave LSU a 6-0 lead with 17:38 to play, and Kentucky coach John Calipari immediately called a timeout.
O’Bryant, who had 29 points in the Tigers’ 87-82 win over Kentucky on Jan. 28, finished with 20 on Saturday.
“I think Johnny has been a force for us all year long,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “He is a high-percentage shooter and can make his free throws. We wanted to get the ball in his hands late. We had an opportunity to isolate him, and he can pass it out of there. We wanted to give him an opportunity to make plays. He was able to deliver for most of the night.”
Out of that first timeout, the Wildcats were instantly healed on both sides of the court. They scored 13 straight points, holding the Tigers without a field goal for the next six minutes.
The Wildcats built a first-half lead as large as eight points, but LSU recovered well after their six-minute drought. Tigers point guard Anthony Hickey hit a pair of threes, and his crisp passing helped wake up a dormant LSU offense.
“This is a big stage,” Hickey said. “We fought all the way to the end. You’ve got to give credit to Kentucky and Julius Randle on that last play. Big players step up at the end of the game, and that’s what he did.”
Young struggled from the free-throw line and was 3 of 7 going into a trip to the stripe with 24.7 seconds left in overtime. He hit both shots, his first trip to the line all day in which he made both attempts, to give the Wildcats (21-6, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) a 75-74 lead.
Hickey committed the foul that sent Young to the line, and he had fouled out. LSU guard Andre Stringer, who is 5-foot-11, brought the ball up and drove through the lane, somehow hoisting a shot over Kentucky 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein.
That gave LSU a 76-75 lead with 11.5 seconds to go, setting up Randle’s winner.
“I was telling (Randle) in every huddle, ‘Just get an offensive rebound to win the game,'” Calipari said. “Quit getting blocked out, quit getting in a mud wrestling match with somebody. Release, run and go get the ball, which
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