LSU will go for its eighth straight win when it visits Kentucky in Southeastern Conference play on Tuesday in Lexington, Ky.
The Tigers (12-1, 1-0) extended their winning streak to seven games with a 60-57 victory over No. 9 Arkansas in Baton Rouge on Wednesday. Kentucky (9-4, 0-1) knocked off visiting Louisville 86-63 for its second win in three games on Saturday.
The Tigers trailed Arkansas by six with 9:20 remaining, but they eventually took the lead 54-52 on Derek Fountain’s three-point play with 2:28 remaining. They led the rest of the way.
The Tigers forced the Razorbacks to shoot 24 of 65 (36.9 percent) from the field, including 4 of 25 (16 percent) from 3-point range.
“Team defense … I think it starts with your transition defense. We were really poor there early in the season,” said Matt McMahon, who is in his first season as LSU’s coach. “I’ve said it before. We looked like a bunch of guys who had never played together before. And I think we’ve made good strides there.”
Trae Hannibal, who averages 5.6 points per game, had a season-high 19 to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Fountain is averaging 7.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game after his double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds).
KJ Williams, who averages a team-high 18.5 points and eight rebounds per game, chipped in eight points and five rebounds.
“We kind of always go one game at a time,” McMahon said. “As boring and cliche as it is, the goal is to go 1-0. For us, we’re such a work in progress. We’re just trying to get better every day in practice. Every game. Obviously, the goal is to win while doing it. I hope it’s something we can continue to build on.”
Kentucky’s win over Louisville wasn’t nearly as dramatic, as the Wildcats led by as many as 27 points in the second half.
Oscar Tshiebwe, who averages team highs of 16.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, had 24 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Jacob Toppin, who averages 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, added 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Cason Wallace, who averages 12.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, finished with 17 points with five rebounds and two assists. Sahvir Wheeler, who averages 8.9 points and a team-high 6.7 assists per game, chipped in seven points and a game-high nine assists.
The Wildcats have won 27 straight home games.
“This is a good group. I can’t imagine our fans aren’t jacked that this is our team. They want to win every game, and so do I,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I want to win more than the fans want to win. But let’s get it right. Let’s go forward.”
While Kentucky has defeated LSU in six of the past eight meetings, the teams split a pair of games last year. LSU knocked off the Wildcats 65-60 in Baton Rouge in January before Kentucky defeated the Tigers 71-66 the following month.
–Field Level Media