Louisiana State Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 21st 2024

No. 17 Kentucky and LSU, two teams that got their signature win of the season on Saturday, will face off Wednesday night in Baton Rouge, La.

The Wildcats (18-7, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) went on the road and never trailed during a 70-59 victory that ended then-No. 13 Auburn’s 16-game home winning streak.

The Tigers (13-12, 5-7) got just their second SEC road victory when they defeated then-No. 11 South Carolina 64-63.

With three weeks left in the regular season, the Wildcats can bolster their seeding in the NCAA Tournament if they continue to play as they did Saturday.

“I’m going to say it was (a win we needed),” Kentucky center Ugonna Onyenso said. “Coming into this game, nobody believed we were going to win this game. … So we came into the game with nothing to lose — that was the mindset we came into the game with.”

Kentucky held one of the better offenses in the country to its lowest point total of the season, just four days after the Wildcats held down Ole Miss in a 75-63 victory. The result against the Rebels ended Kentucky’s three-game home losing streak and a stretch of four losses in six games.

“We told ourselves if we really want this, we can get it. It all depends on ourselves,” Onyenso said. “The coaches can talk however long they want to, but if we don’t lock in defensively and play as one — if we don’t trust each other — we’re not going nowhere.”

The Wildcats suddenly look like a team that might go far if their recent performances are more of a turning point than just a temporary rise on a roller-coaster ride.

“The guys were energized before the game even started,” said Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves, who scored a game-high 22 points against Auburn. “I could see the energy shifted as we were in the locker room talking to one another, just hyped.

“So I was like, ‘OK, this is one of those games. We’re going to play good.’ “

LSU ended a three-game losing streak with its victory over the Gamecocks, putting the Tigers in position to move up in the pecking order as the SEC tournament approaches.

It was especially significant because the Tigers overcame a 16-point, second-half deficit and won in the final seconds after enduring three SEC losses by four points or fewer.

“It was time for us to beat a good team,” said Jordan Wright, whose two free throws with five seconds left made the difference.

The most recent heart-breaker was a two-point loss at Florida just four days before the win at South Carolina. Other close losses were by two at Georgia and by four at home against Texas A&M.

“We’ve been right there on the verge,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said. “We’ve been struggling to get over the hump. We really displayed the toughness and the grit and the togetherness we’ve been looking for as a team.”

Sophomore Tyrell Ward finished with a career-high 16 points for the Tigers, who are beginning a stretch of three consecutive home games.

“We’ve had like four or five heartbreakers,” Ward said. “I’m just happy for my team because it seemed like everybody was really counting us out.”

–Field Level Media

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