Cats fall to LSU, await Selection Sunday

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Marcus Thornton scored 21 points and No. 20
LSU beat Kentucky 67-58 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the
Southeastern Conference tournament and most likely end the
Wildcats' streak of NCAA appearances at 17.
Thornton, the SEC player of the year, keyed a 10-2 spurt to
enable the Tigers (26-6) to open a 14-point, second-half lead and
nearly outscored Kentucky's high-scoring tandem of Jodie Meeks and
Patrick Patterson by himself.
Kentucky (20-13) entered the tournament feeling it had to win it
all to extend its string of consecutive NCAA appearances. The
Wildcats last missed the NCAA tournament in 1991 and hasn't played
in the NIT since 1979.
Patterson led Kentucky with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Meeks had
a season-low eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.
LSU led 28-23 at the half despite shooting 30.6 percent from the
field and getting little scoring from anyone other than Thornton,
who had 13 at the break, including 10 over the stretch in which the
Tigers spurted to an eight-point lead.
With LSU shooting poorly, Kentucky managed to stay close even
without getting its usual production from Meeks and Patterson, two
of the top five scorers in the SEC. The tandem combined for 11
first-half points on 4-for-10 shooting, with Meeks - the league's
top scorer at 24.7 per game - not even attempting a shot in the
first 13 minutes.
Garrett Temple spearheaded the LSU defense, drawing the
difficult assignment of containing Meeks, who scored 24 in the
Wildcats' 73-70 loss to LSU at home on Feb. 28. The 6-foot-6 guard
made the Kentucky star work hard for everything he got.
Thornton, meanwhile, showed why he's the conference player of
the year. The senior from Baton Rouge, La., made 8 of 17 shots,
including a 3-pointer that finished the surge that carried the
Tigers to 58-44 lead with 5:48 to go.
Temple and Bo Spencer also made 3-pointers in the 10-2 burst.
LSU didn't score again until Spencer made two free throws with 1:37
left, but the closest Kentucky could get down the stretch was
seven.
Spencer finished with 16 points and Tasmin Mitchell had 14. LSU
shot 52 percent (13-of-25) in the second half and 39.3 percent for
the game.
The loss was Kentucky's ninth in 12 games. The Wildcats entered
the SEC tourney on a four-game losing streak.

No. 20 LSU 67, KENTUCKY 58
KENTUCKY (20-13)
Harris 5-8 0-2 11, Porter 3-6 0-0 9, Stevenson 1-3 3-4 5, Meeks
3-9 2-2 8, Patterson 4-9 7-9 15, Miller 3-7 2-2 8, Galloway 1-3 0-2
2, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0, Harrellson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 14-21 58.
LSU (26-6)
Mitchell 6-15 2-4 14, Johnson 2-4 0-0 4, M.Thornton 8-17 2-4 21,
Spencer 3-13 7-8 16, Temple 4-10 0-0 9, Martin 1-1 0-0 3,
Q.Thornton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 11-16 67.
Halftime-LSU 28-23. 3-Point Goals-Kentucky 4-13 (Porter 3-6,
Harris 1-2, Miller 0-2, Meeks 0-3), LSU 8-21 (M.Thornton 3-7,
Spencer 3-8, Martin 1-1, Temple 1-5). Fouled Out-Johnson, Miller.
Rebounds-Kentucky 32 (Patterson 10), LSU 37 (Johnson, Mitchell 8).
Assists-Kentucky 11 (Meeks, Patterson 3), LSU 15 (Mitchell, Temple
4). Total Fouls-Kentucky 16, LSU 12. A-NA. ent and m

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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