Five things you need to know from No. 17 Kentucky’s heartbreaking 75-74 loss to LSU

Five things you need to know from No. 17 Kentucky’s heartbreaking 75-74 loss to LSU in men’s SEC basketball at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

1. A crushing finish. A Rob Dillingham jumper with 13 seconds left in the game gave Kentucky a 74-73 lead.

On the ensuing LSU possession, longtime UK nemesis Jordan Wright, the former Vanderbilt guard, drove the ball toward the rim. When Wright rose to shoot, however, Kentucky’s Adou Thiero blocked the shot.

As he was falling out of bounds, Wright had the presence of mind to collect the ball and throw it back toward the front of the goal. That is where LSU’s Tyrell Ward collected Wright’s pass and dropped the ball in the bucket for the game-winner just ahead of the final horn.

For Kentucky, which had rallied from 73-69 down with 1:04 left to take the lead, it was a crushing way to lose.

2. LSU “drives” a stake in UK. Down 42-27 to Kentucky with 19:08 left in the game, LSU rallied by driving the ball right at UK over and over and over.

As a result, the Tigers finished the game with 32 points in the paint — 22 of which came in the second half.

Unlike some games earlier this season when Kentucky’s defense seemed to offer little resistance, the Wildcats appeared to be battling. LSU just drove the ball at and over UK repeatedly and the Wildcats could not get enough stops.

Losing the second-half rebounding battle 22-12 was not helpful for the Cats.

3. Cats waste a Dillingham “heater.” At halftime Wednesday night, UK freshman guard Rob Dillingham had two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

The Hickory, North Carolina, product finished the contest with 23 points.

The 6-foot-2, 176-pound Dillingham almost single-handedly willed Kentucky to victory. Dillingham scored 14 of UK’s final 16 points, including the Wildcats’ final 12.

Had LSU not pulled the game out, Dillingham’s performance would have entered UK lore as an all-time memorable clutch performance.

Antonio Reeves (12) led Kentucky with 25 points Wednesday night and surpassed 1,000 points in his two years with the Wildcats. Silas Walker/
Antonio Reeves (12) led Kentucky with 25 points Wednesday night and surpassed 1,000 points in his two years with the Wildcats. Silas Walker/

4. The Antonio Reeves drive for 1,000. The Kentucky super-senior guard entered Wednesday night’s game needing 24 points to become the 62nd player in UK men’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in a Wildcats uniform.

Reeves did it, finishing with a team-high 25 points whle making 8 of 15 shots, 3 of 5 treys, and 6 of 6 free throws.

The 6-6, 195-pound super-senior from Chicago entered the UK 1,000-point club when he sank a free throw on the front end of the bonus with 8:26 left in the game.

Reeves, who scored 1,195 points in his three seasons (2019 through 2022) playing for Illinois State, is now a 1,000-point scorer at two schools.

Among players recruited to Kentucky by John Calipari, Reeves is the third 1,000-points scorer, joining Terrence Jones (1,064) and Doron Lamb (1,018). Billy Gillispie-era holdovers Patrick Patterson (1,564 career points) and Darius Miller (1,248) also played at UK for Calipari.

With 1,001 career points at UK, Reeves now stands eighth on the all-time scoring list among players who only played two seasons at Kentucky: 1. Bill Spivey 1,213 points; 2. Oscar Tshiebwe 1,117; 3. Rex Chapman 1,073; 4. Terrence Jones 1,064; 5. Bob Burrow 1,023; 6. Doron Lamb 1,018; 7. Ron Mercer 1,013.

5. Only one winless opposing SEC coach. Kentucky’s loss means the 2023-24 regular season will end with only one league head coach having never beaten the Wildcats.

LSU’s Matt McMahon is now 1-1 against the Wildcats since leaving Murray State to take the Tigers’ head coaching position before the 2022-23 season.

Mississippi first-year head man Chris Beard is 0-2 in his career against UK, having lost once this season to the Wildcats and taken a defeat from UK in 2019-20 when Beard was head man at Texas Tech.

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