LSU stuns Kentucky at buzzer to cap successful rally

Published 5:26 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

Kentucky lost in heartbreaking fashion to LSU on Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.

Tyrell Ward’s improbable layup at the buzzer lifted LSU to a 75-74 court-storming triumph over the Wildcats and capped a successful second-half comeback by the Tigers, who trailed by 15 early in the second half.

The heroics by Ward came after Rob Dillingham’s bucket with 13 seconds remaining had given No. 17 Kentucky (18-8, 8-5) a 74-73 advantage. But it was the Tigers had just enough time to respond and defeated a ranked opponent for the second time in less than a week. LSU stunned then-No. 11 South Carolina 64-63 last Saturday.

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“We wanted it more than them, plain and simple,” Ward said. “I would definitely say we’re finding more ways to win.”

Dillingham scored just two points in the opening half, but caught fire in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 23 points, scored 21 of those in the second half, including the go-ahead jumper in the closing seconds

The Wildcats nearly sealed a dramatic, last-minute comeback when Adou Thiero blocked Jordan Wright’s driving shot in the final seconds, but Wright was able to push the ball back up toward Ward, who leapt to grab the ball and quickly release his decisive shot before he came down.

“Adou blocks it; I got to watch the tape and say, ‘Who did not grab that ball — the winning ball — who didn’t grab it and why?’” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Why not dive on the floor? Just tie it up and we win the game.”

Calipari lamented that an inability to secure a number of loose balls cost his team the game.

“That’s all we talk about,” Calipari said. “If you’re not going to come up with 50-50 balls, you can’t win. … They toughed us for those balls, which were the difference.”

The basket sent jubilant fans pouring onto the floor as security officers scrambled to rope off an area around both benches to keep the crowd from mingling with players and coaches.

“Just so proud of our players,” LSU second-year coach Matt McMahon said. “Over the last week, we’ve seen the toughness that we need to play with. I think it has to be the foundation of your program.

“We really came together as a team and found ways to get it done,” he added. “It’s a special week, certainly something we can build on.”

Coming off a 70-59 win at Auburn, the Wildcats showed no signs of a letdown early as Antonio Reeves scored nine of Kentucky’s first 16 points, including a string of three straight baskets as the Wildcats made seven of their first 11 field goals. Reeves made his team’s first two 3-pointers in the contest.

Reeves led all scorers with 16 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 25 points. He surpassed 1,000 points in his two-year UK career.

Kentucky scored the last 10 points of the half and led 36-27 at halftime.

The Wildcats opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers by Justin Edwards and Reeves to push the margin to 42-27. The Tigers roared back and used an 11-0 run to close the gap to 44-42 with 16 minutes remaining.

Kentucky now braces for No. 13 Alabama, which rallied to beat 24th-ranked Florida 98-93 in overtime Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa, to maintain the top spot in the SEC standings.


Former Kentucky forward Damion Collins, who played two seasons for the Wildcats transferred to LSU and didn’t play because of an injury.

Collins has been hampered by nagging injuries in his first season at LSU and has averaged four points in six games for the Tigers this season.

Gametracker: Alabama at Kentucky, 4 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: CBS, UK Radio Network