LSU basketball beats No. 17 Kentucky by one point after Tyrell Ward’s buzzer beater

LSU basketball prepares to take on Missouri in its regular season finale. PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

It wasn’t the play they had drawn up, but it didn’t matter. After Jordan Wright had the would-be last shot of the game blocked, he lobbed the ball back towards the basket hoping it would find a Tiger.

It did.

Tyrell Ward rose up to claim the ball and put it away right at the buzzer to give LSU (14-12, 6-7 SEC) another comeback win over a ranked opponent.

“I knew we were trying to get to the rim because we were only down by one point and the whole defense was going to collapse on Jordan so I just figured if I crashed I might get an open look and you saw the rest,” Ward said.

LSU beat No. 17 Kentucky (18-8, 8-5 SEC) 75-74 after trailing by 15 points just a week after coming back from down 16 to beat No. 11 South Carolina.

LSU looked poised for another upset win in the beginning of the first half, but Kentucky pulled away in the last few minutes before the break. After a Ward jumper gave LSU a 26-24 lead with 3:51 remaining in the half, Kentucky went on a run.

Reed Sheppard tied the game back up at 26 and a Trae Hannibal free throw gave LSU a one-point lead, but Kentucky went on a 10-0 run to head into the break with a 36-27 lead. LSU scored just five points in the final 9:43 of the first half.

LSU didn’t have an answer for Kentucky star Antonio Reeves. He finished the half with 16 points while shooting 70% from the field.

LSU struggled with turnovers in the half and had 11 compared to the Wildcats’ seven. Each team made four threes, but LSU made nine field goals compared to Kentucky’s 16. The Wildcats also outscored LSU 20-10 in the paint.

LSU’s top sorcerer of the half was Ward with 10 points. Wright and Derek Fountain each had five points.

Coming back from the break, it looked like Kentucky would continue to pull away from the Tigers. Kentucky scored the first six points of the half and extended its lead to 15 less than a minute into the second half.

But then, the momentum shifted inspired by three straight threes from the Tigers. LSU scored 11-straight to bring the score within two points.

Ward tied the game up with two free throws with 14:34 left in the game and Hunter Dean rose up to put away a lobbed pass from Hannibal to give LSU its first lead since the first half.

Kentucky struggled to stop the LSU offense with Jalen Reed driving to the basket repeatedly. Reed had just one point and one rebound in the first half, but he finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds. He put LSU ahead 69-67 with 2:01 left. Kentucky tied the game at 69 not long after, but a three from Will Baker gave LSU a 72-69 lead.

“I think we did a lot of things well,” Reed said. “I think we moved the ball well and better in the second half. I didn’t really play much the first half so I just was ready to play.

Reed grabbed a rebound after a missed shot from Reeves and sunk one of his free throws to give LSU a four-point lead with a minute to go.

Rob Dillingham had a circus shot off the glass while being fouled and made the free throw afterwards to bring the game within one. LSU called a timeout with 35 seconds left in the game and possession of the ball, but Wright had the ball stripped while driving towards the basket. Kentucky called a timeout with 20 seconds left.

Dillingham hit a jumper to give the Wildcats the lead with 12 seconds left. The final shot was for Wright, but it was blocked. Wright then grabbed the ball and threw it up for Ward to claim and finish right at the buzzer.

Fans stormed the court, and the Tigers went wild celebrating.

“Over the last week, we’ve seen the toughness we need to play with as a team,” McMahon said. “The last minute was not a work of art. That’s on me, but the guys found a way to win anyways. The atmosphere in in the PMAC was fantastic. I loved the energy and it’s a great win for our team and our program.”

Reeves was Kentucky’s top scorer with 25 points while shooting 8-for-15 from the field.

Ward led LSU in points with 17, including the game winner. Wright ended the game with 13 points and Hannibal had seven.

LSU’s next game will be against Mississippi State on Saturday. That game will start at 7:30 p.m.

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Will Nickel

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