LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A tip-in at the buzzer by Kavell Bigby-Williams helped No. 19 LSU finish off its biggest comeback of the season and finally beat Kentucky.
The Tigers have won six games on the road this season after Tuesday night’s 73-71 victory over the No. 5 Wildcats. They’ve survived several close calls. LSU has won three overtime games in the Southeastern Conference and the last three games have been decided by less than five points.
“It’s high up there,” LSU coach Will Wade said of his team’s impressive victories this season. “To come on the road and beat a top five team like this in this type of environment is phenomenal for us. We knew we had a good team and we wanted to prove it to ourselves in this type of environment, we were able to do that tonight.”
This time it took a play at the buzzer for the Tigers to win their 13th game in the last 14 tries.
“We were obviously fortunate at the end,” Wade said. “The ball goes off the rim and we make a play at the end. It was overall a good win.”
With the game tied after Keldon Johnson made two free throws with 6 seconds left, Skylar Mays drove the length of the court. His shot missed but Bigby-Williams got the offensive rebound and scored to give the Tigers their first win over the Wildcats since 2009. It was just the sixth time ever that LSU (20-4, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) has beaten Kentucky (20-4, 10-2).
A video replay showed potential goaltending by Bigby-Williams, but officials determined the basket was good before the buzzer and reviewed whether or not the basket was scored before time expired as opposed to potential offensive goaltending.
“I think the only thing that’s reviewable is the clock,” Wade said. “I don’t think the actual play is reviewable. The play stands, but I think the clock is what’s reviewable. I didn’t see (the replay) so I don’t know.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari was disappointed in the call and said it was comparable to a shot clock violation that wasn’t called against Wisconsin in a 71-64 loss to Badgers in the 2015 Final Four.
“They said it was not reviewable and then they changed the rule to say, why would you want to lose a game on a shot clock violation and it’s easy to go check?” He said. “Well, this one easy to go check, too. Just go check it. Why would you not — why would that not be reviewable? So we’re like Wilt Chamberlain — we change rules. I don’t know.”
LSU outscored Kentucky 41-31 in the second half to overcome a nine-point deficit.
The Wildcats (20-4, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) had a 10-game winning streak snapped and got caught looking ahead going into Saturday’s showdown against top-ranked Tennessee.
Tremont Waters led the Tigers with 15 points, followed by Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams with 12 each, while Mays chipped in with 11 each.
PJ Washington led Kentucky with 20 points, followed by Keldon Johnson with 16 and Tyler Herro with 12.
Johnson paced the Wildcats with nine points in the first half, followed by Washington with eight.
Kentucky: The Wildcats fell to 4-2 against ranked teams this season. Kentucky hosts top-ranked Tennessee Saturday in the first of two games between the ranked foes. The Wildcats and Volunteers will play in a rematch on March 2 in Knoxville in a game that could determine the SEC regular-season champion.
LSU: The Tigers remain in contention to receive one of four byes in the SEC Tournament. LSU is a game ahead of Kentucky in the SEC standings. LSU has a favorable schedule and hosts league leader Tennessee on Feb. 23 in Baton Rouge.
HOME STREAK ENDS
Kentucky had a 17-game home winning streak snapped, including 13 this season.
LSU is at Georgia Saturday.
Kentucky hosts Tennessee on Saturday night.