Bryce Hopkins came off the bench to score a career-high 13 points, including 11 to fuel Kentucky’s 15-2 second-half surge, and Oscar Tshiebwe and Keion Brooks Jr. made late free throws to help the No. 6 Wildcats survive LSU 71-66 on Wednesday night.
The short-handed Wildcats trailed 36-28 just after halftime and needed offense besides Tshiebwe. Hopkins, a freshman forward, provided an immediate spark by muscling for baskets and drawing chances at the foul line during the spurt. His three-point play put up Kentucky ahead up 39-36 with 15:35 left and came seconds after Tshiebwe grabbed Hopkins’ missed free throw and created two chances ending with Hopkins’ tip-in.
His jumper made it 43-38 and Kentucky (23-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) built a 65-50 lead late before LSU rallied to 68-64 with 33.2 seconds left. Keion Brooks Jr. made two free throws with 20 seconds later, and Tshiebwe answered Darius Days’ layup by making a free throw with 3.1 seconds left to seal Kentucky’s second consecutive victory.