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Frantic finish results in 65-60 win for #21 LSU over #16 UK

LSU forward Tari Eason (13) shoots over Kentucky forwards Daimion Collins (4) and Lance Ware...
LSU forward Tari Eason (13) shoots over Kentucky forwards Daimion Collins (4) and Lance Ware (55) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)(Derick Hingle | AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 10:33 PM EST
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(WAVE) - On a night when #16 Kentucky saw SEC assist leader Sahvir Wheeler head to the locker room with 16:10 remaining the first half, it was a frantic final 23 seconds that decided things at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, as #21 LSU handed the Cats a 65-60 loss.

Wheeler left after running into a screen from the Tigers Efton Reid. The Cats point guard had to be helped off the court and did not return.

With Oscar Tshiebwe limited in the first half with two fouls, the Cats trailed 35-30 at the half.

They opened the second half on a 20-6 run. Kellen Grady caught fire. He drilled four three’s in the first seven minutes of the half. UK led 50-41.

The Tigers answered with a 20-2 run. They led 61-52 with 2:35 left when Tari Eason flipped in a drive.

The Cats answered. A Jacob Tippin free throw made it 61-53 and then Davion Mintz scored seven straight points. A three-pointer with 1:20 left got UK within 61-58. After an LSU turnover, Mintz drove the lane and scored with 26.7 seconds left to make it 61-60 Tigers.

After a UK foul, LSU inbounded the ball, a long Tigers pass was intercepted by Tshiebwe, who could not connect with Grady. Mintz went diving out of bounds to save it, but it went off Grady to LSU’s Darius Days. Days drove and dished to Eason for a slam. That gave LSU a 63-60 lead with 14.4 seconds left.

Just before he got to midcourt, Mintz had the ball knocked away from behind by LSU’s Xavier Pinson. Mwani Wilkinson came up with the loose ball and threw it ahead to Pinson for another slam and the final margin.

“For what we did and how we played, to be in the game, you know, but I, it’s, you know, I hate losing so,” UK head coach John Calipari said.

Calipari did not have an update on Wheeler’s condition. Cats guard TyTy Washington was also limited down the stretch by cramps.

Mintz led Kentucky (11-3, 1-1 SEC) with 16 points. Jacob Toppin added 14 and Grady 13.

The Tigers (13-1, 1-1) were led by Eason with 13 points. Pinson had 11.

Kentucky falls to 0-2 in true road games this season.

The Cats return to Rupp Arena on Saturday night, hosting Georgia (5-9, 0-1) at 6 p.m.

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