Tyrell Ward's last-second shot lifts LSU over No. 17 Kentucky 75-74

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — While LSU's Tyrell Ward was mobbed on the court by jubilant fans, including women's basketball star Angel Reese, Kentucky coach John Calipari and the Wildcats could only watch the celebration while awaiting a brief video review of the frantic, last-second sequence that did them in.

Ward capped a 17-point performance with a short floater as time expired, and LSU pulled out a second straight comeback victory over a ranked team with a 75-74 victory over No. 17 Kentucky on Wednesday night.

“We wanted it more than them, plain and simple,” Ward said. “I would definitely say we’re finding more ways to win."

The Wildcats nearly sealed a dramatic, last-minute comeback when Adou Thiero blocked Jordan Wright’s driving shot in the final seconds. Wright was able to push the ball back up in front of the rim, where Ward leaped to grab the ball and quickly release his decisive shot before he came down.

“Adou blocks it; I got to watch the tape and say, ‘Who did not grab that ball — the winning ball — who didn’t grab it and why?’” Calipari said. “Why not dive on the floor? Just tie it up and we win the game.”

Calipari lamented that an inability secure a number of loose balls cost his team the game.

“That's all we talk about,” Calipari said. “If you're not going to come up with 50-50 balls, you can't win. ... They toughed us for those balls, which were the difference.”

Ward's basket sent jubilant fans pouring onto the floor as security officers scrambled to rope off an area around both benches in an effort to minimize mingling between spectators and the teams.

Reese threw her arms around Ward's shoulders as she hopped joyously next to him, but Ward said he didn't realize she was there.

“I blacked out as soon as the shot went in," Ward said. "I can’t remember. I didn’t know nothing that was going on.”

Wright and Jalen Reed each scored 13 points for LSU (14-12, 6-7 Southeastern Conference), which erased a 15-point, second half deficit against Kentucky — one game after overcoming a 16-point, second-half hole in a 64-63 victory at then-No. 11 South Carolina on Saturday.

“Just so proud of our players,” LSU second-year coach Matt McMahon said. “Over the last week, we’ve seen the toughness that we need to play with. I think it has to be the foundation of your program.

“We really came together as a team and found ways to get it done,” he added. “It’s a special week, certainly something we can build on.”

Antonio Reeves scored 25 points for Kentucky (18-8, 8-5), which has now stumbled to five losses in its past nine games. Rob Dillingham scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half. His driving scoop as he was fouled with 53 seconds left, followed by his pullup jumper on the baseline with 13 seconds left, briefly gave the Wildcats a 74-73 lead.

"The last minute was not a work of art, but that’s on me and the guys found a way to win anyway,” McMahon said.

Kentucky closed the first half on a 12-1 run during which Reeves hit a 3 and fast-break layup. Justin Edwards' 3 gave the Wildcats a 36-27 lead at the break.

Kentucky opened the second half with consecutive 3s by Edwards and Reeves to make it 42-27, but Derek Fountain's layup shortly after ignited a 21-4 LSU run that included consecutive 3s by Wright and ended with back-to-back layups by Reed and Hunter Dean to put the Tigers up 48-46.

Reed Sheppard interrupted the spurt with a layup while being fouled and completed the 3-point play, but the game was tight from then on.


Kentucky: The Wildcats did not have any players other Reeves or Dillingham score more than nine points and were outshot 45%-44%. ... Senior forward Tre Mitchell, who has averaged 12 points per game this season, sat out for the fourth time in five games with an ailing shoulder and back.

LSU: The Tigers are looking like an increasingly dangerous opponent as the conference tournament nears. They outrebounded Kentucky 38-30 and won a second straight game without guard Jalen Cook, who sat out with a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss three of five games overall.


Kentucky: Host No. 13 Alabama on Saturday.

LSU: Host Mississippi State on Saturday night.


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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball