LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Tasmin Mitchell scored 21 - including the
game-winning 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds remaining - to lead No. 18
LSU to a 73-70 victory over Kentucky on Saturday and give the
Tigers the Southeastern Conference regular season title.
Marcus Thornton led LSU with 23 points and nine rebounds and Bo
Spencer added 16 points as the Tigers (25-4, 13-1) overcame a
10-point second half deficit to win at Rupp Arena for the first
time in 20 years.
Patrick Patterson had 28 points and nine rebounds and Jodie
Meeks scored 24 points for Kentucky (19-10, 8-6), but the SEC's
leading scorer badly missed a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds to go as
the Wildcats lost their second straight to put their NCAA
tournament hopes in jeopardy.
Thornton secured the inbounds pass following Meeks' miss and ran
out the clock, throwing the ball in the air as the buzzer sounded
as the Tigers celebrated.
The win capped a remarkable turnaround season for the Tigers
under first-year head coach Trent Johnson. LSU limped to a 13-18
record last season, including a 6-10 mark in the SEC.
Those days seem long gone now, thanks in part to the steady play
The senior shook off a horrific first half in which he missed
all but two of his 10 shots, taking over in the second half after
Kentucky rallied from a 12-point hole to take a 54-44 lead with
Mitchell started the comeback with a hook shot before Thornton
got going. He scored 15 points over the final 10 minutes, including
an acrobatic putback while getting fouled with 1:48 to go. He made
the free throw to give the Tigers a 66-64 lead, setting up a
dramatic final 90 seconds in which one team would hit a shot then
the other would respond.
LSU seemed to have things in hand after Spencer hit a 3-pointer
from the corner then forced Meeks to miss a 3 of his own. Thornton
got fouled and split the free throws to put the Tigers up 70-66
with 42 seconds left.
Kevin Galloway made one free throw then missed the second for
Kentucky. Patterson tipped the ball out to Meeks, who fed freshman
Darius Miller for a 3-pointer that tied it at 70 with 27 seconds
No biggie. Thornton calmly walked up the floor then ran a
pick-and-pop with Mitchell. Kentucky's A.J. Stewart moved over to
help Galloway on Thornton long enough to leave Mitchell open at the
top of the key. He calmly knocked down his 10th 3-pointer of the
year to put the Tigers back in front.
Kentucky had one last chance and ran Meeks off a pick at the top
of the key. Two Tigers jumped out on him and the shot missed badly
and the Tigers had their 10th straight win and the outright SEC
The loss put a severe dent in Kentucky's NCAA tournament resume.
The Wildcats looked like the league favorite a five weeks ago after
winning their first five SEC games but have now lost six of their
last nine. Kentucky probably needs to win its final two regular
season games against Georgia on Wednesday and Florida next Saturday
to assure itself of an 18th straight NCAA tournament berth.
The Tigers have no such worries. Picked to finish behind Alabama
in the SEC West before the season started, LSU has stormed through
the conference by taking care of the ball and relying on the play
of its upperclassmen like Mitchell and Thornton when things get
No. 18 LSU 73, KENTUCKY 70
Mitchell 9-13 2-2 21, Johnson 1-3 0-0 2, M.Thornton 8-23 5-6 23, Spencer 6-12 0-0 16, Temple 0-3 1-2 1, Martin 3-4 0-0 8, Warren 0-1 0-0 0, Farrer 0-0 0-0 0, Q.Thornton 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-60 8-10 73.
Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Porter 0-2 0-0 0, Stevenson 3-6 1-2 7, Meeks 10-22 3-4 24, Patterson 12-17 4-6 28, Miller 3-4 0-0 8, Galloway 0-0 3-4 3, Krebs 0-0 0-0 0, Stewart 0-1 0-0 0, Liggins 0-0 0-0 0, Harrellson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 11-16 70.
Halftime-LSU 36-28. 3-Point Goals-LSU 9-20 (Spencer 4-7, Martin 2-3, M.Thornton 2-7, Mitchell 1-2, Temple 0-1), Kentucky 3-14 (Miller 2-2, Meeks 1-9, Stewart 0-1, Porter 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-LSU 29 (M.Thornton 9), Kentucky 32 (Patterson 9). Assists-LSU 12 (M.Thornton 4), Kentucky 18 (Meeks 4). Total Fouls-LSU 17, Kentucky 14. A-24,411.