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January 28, 2014

O'Bryant, LSU flatten Cats in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The weather extended Kentucky's stay here, but it was LSU that ensured a long flight back to Lexington for the Wildcats.

The Tigers gave No. 11 UK an 87-82 thrashing Tuesday in the bayou, and inclement weather forced the Cats to stay in town after the beating, canceling their scheduled flight home.

Kentucky (15-5, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) was able to slightly close the gap between the two schools late in the game, but trailed the unranked Tigers for all 40 minutes in Tuesday night's thumping.

A quick start from LSU junior forward Johnny O'Bryant III -- who finished with a game-high 29 points and nine rebounds -- put the Cats in a hole they couldn't climb out of.

"When any team out works you, this is what it looks like," said Kentucky coach John Calipari. "It was amazing we were in the game. We got down 16 and it could've been 30."

Calipari didn't mince words in his brief postgame news conference, linking much of his team's struggles to a lack of mental discipline.

As the game inched closer to the inevitable upset, signs of frustration could be seen on nearly every Wildcat in the waning minutes of the night.

"(LSU) was just playing harder than us," said freshman center Dakari Johnson, who had a career-high 15 points. "They were hitting a lot of shots, a lot of open threes. (We) just broke down a lot defensively and they just played harder than us tonight."

Calipari said LSU's last-minute lineup changes threw him off guard as Tigers coach Johnny Jones decided to put a pair of forwards -- freshman Jarell Martin and senior Shavon Coleman -- into the starting lineup in the hopes of lengthening the Tigers' zone defense.

"I thought they'd play mostly man because that's what they play, but when they went big, I told the staff that they're playing zone," Calipari said. "Normally we're better against man than the zone, so it didn't bother me, but we weren't ready for the physicalness of the game, we weren't ready for the energy of the game, we weren't ready for the viciousness of the game."

Jones said he decided to make the lineup changes as the Tigers (13-6, 4-3) traveled home from last weekend's trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Calipari also took blame for not doubling O'Bryant earlier in the game, saying the potential NBA prospect "killed" the Wildcats after scoring 10 points in the first six minutes of regulation.

"I was just going at them and for some reason (Kentucky freshman forward Julius) Randle had an off night," O'Bryant said. "Our team played great defense with a great zone. That was really the first time we played zone for a whole game."

Keeping in tone with the majority of his team, Randle failed to muster any rhythm Tuesday night, shooting 3 for 11 in scoring six points. As a unit, Kentucky shot 43.8 percent to LSU's 50.8 percent.

Freshman James Young led the Wildcats with 23 points and seven rebounds.

"This team is a work in progress and I've said it's all about a process," Calipari said. "A process we're at now where we have the mental toughness to really breakthrough and be the team we want to be. We didn't show it today."

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