Jan 29, 2014 12:02 AM
Johnny O'Bryant III had 29 points and nine rebounds, and LSU led wire-to-wire in an 87-82 upset of No. 11 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Jordan Mickey scored 14 points and blocked five shots for LSU (13-6, 4-3 SEC), which put on a show for an estimated 6,000-plus fans who made it to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center despite unusual winter weather that coated roads with ice. Hustling and active on the defensive end, LSU blocked 11 shots and helped force 13 Kentucky turnovers.
Shavon Coleman added 14 points for the Tigers, who outshot the Wildcats 51 percent (32 of 63) to 44 percent (32 of 73).
James Young scored 23 points and Dakari Johnson had 15 for Kentucky (15-5, 5-2), which has lost all five of its games away from home, including two straight road games in the Southeastern Conference.
Aaron Harrison had 14 points and Alex Poythress added 10 for the Wildcats, who have to go right back on the road Saturday at Missouri.
While Kentucky is usually one of the biggest draws of any basketball season at LSU, south Louisiana was blasted by freezing rain which forced the closure of numerous bridges and long, elevated sections of Interstate 10 on both sides of Baton Rouge.
The result was a half-empty arena that belied the paid attendance of 12,124. The student sections, however, were jammed from first row courtside to the last row near the stadium's domed roof. Classes had been cancelled, and perhaps as an antidote to cabin fever, the students showed up energized, and it appeared contagious.
The Tigers started fast, leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, when they never trailed.
The Tigers led by six at halftime, but opened the second half with Jarell Martin's layup and Mickey's jumper to push their lead back to double digits. Later, consecutive 3s by Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer made it a 14-point game with 12:51 to go.
Kentucky had trouble stringing together a game-turning run, and did not pull within single digits until Aaron Harrison's 3 made it 83-76 with 43 seconds left.
LSU answered with free throws by Hickey and one last fast-break layup by O'Bryant to seal it.
LSU made nine of its first 12 shots and led 22-6 after Mickey's free throws.
Kentucky, by contrast, made only four of its first 12 shots and turned the ball over five times in the first 5 minutes.
Young helped the Wildcats settle down, hitting a 3 and adding two more quick baskets to trim the Tigers' lead to 25-15.
Later, Young threw down a one-handed dunk of Jarrod Polson's alley-oop lob, cutting the Wildcats' deficit to 25-19.
LSU, meanwhile, was settling for jumpers near the 3-point arc, going 1 of 9 during a 17-5 Kentucky run which was capped by Julius Randle's fast-break dunk that made it 27-24.
The Tigers didn't fold, though, thanks in large part to O'Bryant's 15 first-half points. His free throw briefly built LSU's lead back to nine before Poythress' three-point play cut it to 42-36 at halftime.