O'Bryant-Led LSU Leaves Kentucky in the Cold, 87-82

Thousands of fans braved frozen temperatures and closed roads to attend.
Thousands of fans braved frozen temperatures and closed roads to attend.
Steve Franz
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Director of Digital Media

BATON ROUGE – Johnny O'Bryant III racked up a season-high 29 points as the LSU men’s basketball team led wire-to-wire during an 87-82 victory over No. 11 Kentucky Tuesday sparked by a spirited student-led crowd at the Maravich Center.

The Tigers (13-6, 4-3 SEC) snapped a five-game losing streak to Kentucky (15-5, 5-2 SEC) which dated back to the 2008-09 season when LSU won the SEC regular season championship. It was LSU’s first win over a ranked UK squad since the 1999-2000 campaign.

Next Game: Sat., 4 p.m. vs. Arkansas | Ticket Info

For Johnny Jones, it was his second win over a ranked opponent during his LSU tenure. The Tigers defeated Missouri 73-70 last season. It also was Jones’ sixth win over coaches since the time that coach had taken a team to the Final Four. 

Defensively, LSU recorded a season-high 11 blocks. The last time the Tigers recorded double digit blocks was during a 75-58 win over Houston Baptist last season. The 87 point total was LSU’s highest point total against the Wildcats since 1996 and the most in a victory dating back to 1990-91 season.  

For O’Bryant III, he buried 12-of-20 from the floor. The 29 points were one away from a career-high when O’Bryant III scored 30 points at South Carolina last season. He tallied nine rebounds and two blocks over his 33 minutes of action.

Shavon Coleman turned in a solid all-around effort with 14 points coupled with a season’s best nine rebounds and a career-high five assists.

Jordan Mickey tacked on 14 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting. He also registered six rebounds and five blocks. It marked the eighth time on the season that Mickey has garnered five-plus blocks.

Anthony Hickey chipped in 11 points, six assists and three steals to give LSU four players with 10-plus points for the fourth consecutive game.   

Jarell Martin and Andre Stringer secured nine points each. The duo provided an efficient 7-of-11 shooting clip whereas Martin swatted a career-high three blocks.

Kentucky was fueled by James Young’s 23 points and seven rebounds. The Wildcats also received double figures from Dakari Johnson (15 points), Aaron Harrison (14 points) and Alex Poythress (10 points). Johnson’s 15 points were a career-high for the Wildcats. UK’s Julius Randle was bottled up for a season-low six points and misfired on 11 of his 14 field goal attempts.

As a team, the Tigers knocked down 32-of-63 from the field. The 50.8 percent was LSU’s highest shooting output since its 71-69 victory over Texas Tech on December 18. The Tigers canned 7-of-18 triples and were 16-of-26 at the foul line.

Kentucky came away with a 32-for-73 shooting performance which included a 9-for-20 effort from three-point territory. The Wildcats were 9-of-13 at the charity stripe.  

LSU charged out to a 22-6 lead during the first seven minutes of the contest. The 16-point hole was the largest deficit that Kentucky has faced all season.

The Tigers made nine of their first 12 shots. O’Bryant III drilled five of his first six attempts and used a multitude of ways to score which included a left-handed hook in the lane, a turnaround jumper and a step back midrange jumper.

Kentucky responded with 21 of the next 28 points to draw back to 29-27 at the 5:25 mark. Young led the flurry with 12 points aided by a pair of treys. Poythress finished the spurt with a traditional three-point play. It would be the closest the Wildcats would get.

With the 34-31 with 3:42 remaining, Hickey buried consecutive jumpers followed by a Stringer three-ball to vault LSU back ahead 41-33 with 94 seconds to go. The Tigers would take a 42-36 advantage into the locker room led by O’Bryant III’s 15 points.

Out of the locker room, LSU hit baskets on its first two possessions. Martin came off a double screen for a driving layup, and Mickey swished a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key to make it 46-36.

The Tigers stretched their back out to 15 points at 68-53 with 9:50 left after a Coleman three-point play. LSU was able to maintain its double digit lead until the final minute when Kentucky nailed five treys inside a 55-second span. Harrison accounted for three of the triples.

LSU continues its stretch of four of five games at home Saturday as Arkansas visits the Maravich Center. Tip time is on-tap for 4 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPNU along with www.WatchESPN.com.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.

For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/menbasketball.  Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball and @lsucoachjones on Twitter.



Opening Statement…
“First of all, I really want to thank our fans who had an opportunity to come out tonight with the weather conditions the way that they are. For them to take the time out of their schedule, taking a chance in leaving home to come out, support our basketball team and create that type of environment for us, it means a great deal to us. We are forever thankful for them. I thought it was a great college basketball game tonight. I thought our guys came out from the start and did a tremendous job making plays early on, building a lead on both ends of the floor. I thought we executed offensively and defensively in terms of setting the tone. I thought we closed out the half the way that we needed to and then opened up the (second) half with two quick baskets, putting ourselves in a position where we had momentum again. The great basketball team that they are; they weren’t going to go away. They continued to make their runs, but I thought our guys, as a team, did a tremendous job tonight on both ends of the floor.”

On settling his players down after getting out to an early lead…
“It wasn’t difficult. I thought when we got into our press, we were able to create some turnovers. With those turnovers, I didn’t think we made great decisions on the backside. We got in and took some low-percentage shots. It gave them an opportunity to get back out on the run, and they feed off of that. They feed off of bad decisions. We took long shots. They got long rebounds and got out on the break. Long shots like we took are like turnovers, and I thought they did an excellent job. We had to settle down and make sure that we are executing our offense. We had to force them to have to guard us that way and take high-percentage shots. I thought we got back on track after that.”

On the defensive strategy tonight …
“Well, we played a few possessions of man. When they called a timeout early on, I knew that they were going to possibly draw up some type of zone offensive attack to attack our defense at that time. We went man a few possessions to try to get them out of their rhythm again, then we were able to get back in our zone. I thought our length helped us on the perimeter with the great shooters that they have. They wound up burying some shots late, but the big thing was that we wanted to make sure that we were able to rebound the basketball out of the zone, which is difficult to do with them being the number two rebounding team in the country.”

On Johnny O'Bryant III's performance tonight …
“I thought his balance was good. I thought he did an excellent job of going inside. He hit a few jumpers outside, forced them to try to defend him a different way. Initially, they wanted to try and show him single coverage. Inside, he did a great job of taking advantage of that. When they doubled, I thought he did an excellent job being patient and passing out of it. In the second half, I thought we wound up leaving him in a little longer. He was a little winded. I thought he took a couple of jumpers that he possibly could've waited on. When we got him out, he settled down, got his wind back, and he went back at them in the paint. He drew a couple of fouls and scored near the basket.”

On the team's effort and execution …
“I thought the guys were excellent. I thought they made big plays tonight. Kentucky, being the great basketball team that they are, they're going to make their runs. I thought our guys were able to settle in, come back and execute, get rebounds, second-chance opportunities and put backs. I thought our offense executed well making plays, especially winning timeouts. When we had to come out of time outs, I thought we were able to execute. That's big for us.”

On what it means to beat Kentucky …
“I tell you it's great. Kentucky, with the history and tradition that they have in our league, being ranked in the top-15 or top-20 teams in the country, is a big win for us. To have an opportunity to come back in that type of atmosphere and that environment, that was a huge win for us. We know we have a lot of season left in front of us, but we certainly think that's a really good win for us.”


F Johnny O'Bryant III

On the mindset tonight…
“We wanted to come out aggressive. I think when I scored those first couple of baskets, the team really rallied around me. They just fed off my energy to begin with.”

On his game plan for this game…
“I really tried to attack them. I knew that they were young guys and I had an advantage in experience and body wise. I was going at them all night.”

On if they got worn down…
“I was just going at them and for some reason (Julius) Randle had an off night. Our team played great defense with a great zone. That was really the first time we played zone for a whole game. We played them tough.”

On starting out with a big lead…
“It was great to get those turnovers early and not look back. It really helped us gain momentum and we never looked back. We believed we could get the win.

On the energy before the game…
“We were very positive and we were focused.”

F Jordan Mickey

On the defensive game…
“It was all a team effort. We tried to limit them to one shot. We did a great job rebounding and getting the tough 50/50 balls. We hustled a lot and it was just a great team effort.”

On playing with their backs against the wall…
“We needed this game really bad. We went out and executed our game plan for the whole 40 minutes. Our crowd was great to come out in this type of weather. They brought a lot of energy to the team. ”

On the game plan…
“Well they are one of the best rebounding teams in the country so we had to limit them to one shot. We had to make easy shots and get a lot of layups. Also, not just settling for three pointers.”

On playing against some of the best freshmen…
“I tried to go out and do whatever I could. I think I had a pretty good game with scoring points and getting blocks.”


On adding Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress to the starting lineup…
“We are at the point right now that guys have to understand they didn’t come out and match the energy of the other team, and this is what happens. If Dakari (Johnson) plays like he is playing, he will play the most minutes, which is what he did today. Alex (Poythress) did some good things, but it was the breakdowns that killed us. When you get the game down to five or six and then have breakdowns that put you back down thirteen, you can’t win. That is the stuff we are talking about, mental discipline, which this team does not have.”

On what went wrong for Kentucky tonight…
“We are fine. We are playing teams that it means something to them to beat us, and we just think, ‘Well I’m ok individually’. When you watch it, we’re not fine. We will go from here. Johnny O’Bryant killed us. We started the game, and I didn’t want to trap. I wanted to see what could happen. That was probably a mistake on my part. We should have trapped from the beginning of the game. They played the zone. We were tentative. They offensive rebounded, and we didn’t. Alex (Poythress) is the only one going after offensive rebounds. They gated anything Julius (Randle) had. They sent two guys at him. They played good. You have to give them credit. They played well. We don’t have many teams that shoot 50 percent against us like this team did. We are a good defensive team. Not only that, they had 10 offensive rebounds and created 10 turnovers on us. Most of them were in the zone where they had hands in the middle of the zone. They did a great job. You have to give LSU credit.”

On what LSU did tonight to secure the win against Kentucky…
“They switched the starting lineup. I said they must be playing zone then. They went to a bigger lineup, but we didn’t know before. I thought they would play mostly man because that is what they play. The minute they went big I told the staff they are playing zone. Normally, we are better against a zone than we are man. So it didn’t bother me, but we weren’t ready for the physical part of the game. We weren’t ready for the energy of the game and the viciousness of the game. They beat us to every 50-50 balls from the beginning of the game to the end. That is why they won the game.”

On what Kentucky needs to do to improve…
“When the other team outworks you, this is what it looks like. It was amazing we were in the game. We got down 16. It could have been 30. We fought to get back in it. We got back to where we were fine. We came out the second half and did the same thing. I had to call an immediate timeout. This team is in progress. It is all about the process. The process we are at right now is will we have the mental toughness to break through and be the kind of team we want to be. We didn’t show it tonight. Now, we go to the next game and continue to work on what we need to work on for us. Us not doubling Johnny early probably got him going. The rest of it is you can’t let another team outwork you every ball, possession and free ball to win a game. Teams are too balanced, especially in our league.”


G/F James Young

On Jordan Mickey
Jordan Mickey is a good guy. It was really hard for us to score (on him). He kept blocking our shots. That is how SEC basketball goes.”

On how LSU capitalized…
“We made a bunch of mistakes and LSU really got on top. We tried to go out there and do what we needed to do. We had way too many penalties. We just have to get better.”

C Dakari Johnson

On the game …
“(LSU) was just playing harder than us. They were hitting a lot of shots, a lot of open three’s. They just broke down a lot defensively and they just played harder than us tonight.”

On trailing LSU …
“(I tried to) just to take shots and fight and get us back in this game. We got down early. I was just trying to help my team get back in the game.”

On competing defensively …
“I just tried to be physical, get on the offensive boards and try to get physical with Johnny O’Bryant (III), but he’s a good player. He was taking a lot of good shots. I felt like I needed to do better defensively. That’s on me. I could have moved my feet better. But he had a good game. He’s a really good player.”




Men's Basketball
'The Tribute' - Celebrating LSU Athletics Graduates
May. 11
Men's Basketball
Men's Basketball at Utah - Audio Replay
Mar. 19
Men's Basketball
Nissan #LSUTopPlays - March 13-18
Mar. 19