No. 16 Kentucky’s four-game run of prolific offense and blowout victories came to an end on Tuesday night as the Wildcats lost 65-60 at No. 21 LSU after encountering injury issues at point guard. UK’s primary ball-handler Sahvir Wheeler left the game with 16:07 left in the first half after colliding with LSU’s Efton Reid as Reid set a legal screen on Wheeler near half court.
Kentucky coach John Calipari took issue with the fact that no foul was called on Reid, but replays appeared to show that it was a clean play. Wheeler needed assistance to leave the floor and did not return. The 5-foot-10 junior transfer from Georgia entered ranked third nationally in assists per game at 7.8. Without him, the Wildcats (11-3, 1-1 SEC) turned to TyTy Washington Jr. at point guard, but he fell victim to apparent cramps in the second half and appeared hobbled down the stretch.
With the Wildcats reeling offensively, LSU (12-2, 1-1) used a 21-2 run to take a 61-52 lead with 2:35 remaining before Kentucky mounted a final charge. Davion Mintz scored seven straight points for UK to bring the Wildcats within 61-60 with 27 seconds left. But a pair of late turnovers by Mintz doomed UK’s chance to complete the desperate rally and underscored the harm done by Wheeler’s absence and Washington’s limitations.
Washington finished with a team-high four assists for Kentucky but did not play in the final 3:55 amid clear discomfort that the ESPN broadcast described as cramping. Amid the lack of ball-handlers, Kentucky committed nine second-half turnovers. Tari Eason led LSU with 13 points, Xavier Pinson contributed 11 and Brandon Murray added 10. Mintz led Kentucky with 16.