Hopkins rallies UK past LSU 71-66
Bryce Hopkins pops for 13 points after not scoring since January 25
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bryce Hopkins came off the bench to score a career-high 13 points, including 11 to fuel Kentucky’s 15-2 second-half surge, and Oscar Tshiebwe and Keion Brooks made late free throws to help the No. 6 Wildcats survive LSU 71-66 on Wednesday night.
The short-handed Wildcats trailed 36-28 just after halftime and needed offense besides Tshiebwe. Hopkins, a freshman forward, provided an immediate spark by muscling for baskets and drawing chances at the foul line during the spurt. His three-point play put up Kentucky ahead up 39-36 with 15:35 left and came seconds after Tshiebwe grabbed Hopkins’ missed free throw and created two chances ending with Hopkins’ tip-in.
His jumper made it 43-38 and Kentucky (23-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) built a 65-50 lead late before LSU rallied to 68-64 with 33.2 seconds left. Brooks made two free throws with 20 seconds later, and Tshiebwe answered Darius Days’ layup by making a free throw with 3.1 seconds left to seal Kentucky’s second consecutive victory.
Xavier Pinson had 26 points for the Tigers (19-9, 7-8) in their second straight loss.
Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds for Kentucky, which played its second consecutive contest without injured starting guards TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler. Davion Mintz started and added 13 points.
LSU: The Tigers shot 48% in the first half by making 5 of 12 3-pointers to build their lead, with Pinson setting the pace. But much like their 77-75 loss at South Carolina, they couldn’t sustain a double-digit lead and made just 36% after halftime and 37% overall.
Kentucky: Unlike the Alabama victory, where shots fell and others filled the void left by the absences of Washington and Wheeler, the Wildcats had to grind for points. Hopkins not only worked for the shots they needed, he provided a presence on the glass.
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