LSU 77, No. 8 Kentucky 72

LSU guard Jeanne Kenney had endured a rough week, emotionally

and physically.

It began with the death of her grandfather, whose funeral she

missed when a snow storm prolonged a road trip. Then she was

diagnosed with a stress reaction in her left foot, leaving her

unsure if she could help LSU against No. 8 Kentucky.

Kenney managed to push all of that aside on Sunday, turning in

the finest performance in her three seasons at LSU on a day when

the upset-minded Lady Tigers could really use it.

She hit all five 3-pointers she attempted on her way to a

career-high 22 points, and LSU upset No. 8 Kentucky 77-72 on

Sunday.

”We needed this win. I was going to play,” Kenney said,

allowing for a slight, appreciative smile. ”I needed my team and

my team needed me.”

Kenney had to miss her grandfather’s funeral on Friday when a

major snow storm in the Midwest postponed LSU’s game in Missouri

from Thursday night to Friday afternoon. Unable to find a flight

home, Kenney went ahead and played Friday in honor of her

grandfather, Cliff Beaulieu, who used to attend all her home games,

and would often remind his scrappy granddaughter to hold her

follow-through on her shot and not take so many charges, because he

worried about her getting hurt.

But Kenney struggled in LSU’s overtime victory at Mizzou, going

1 of 6 from the field.

”My mindset was Missouri was going to be a dedication game, and

then I went in there trying to do too much,” Kenney said. ”So I,

honest to God, tried not to think about that (on Sunday), because

once you put emotions into it, I’m already an emotional person on

the court, and I just needed to do enough.”

Still, LSU went into pre-game warm-ups uncertain if Kenney could

play at all until she told coach Nikki Caldwell, who had already

decided against starting her, that she could give her at least

limited minutes.

Kenney saved the Lady Tigers (17-10, 8-6 Southeastern

Conference) in a reserve role, finishing 7 of 8 from the field and

3 of 4 from the foul line in 26 minutes, and hitting a critical 3

right after Kentucky had tied the game at 64.

”Jeanne responded like her grandfather would have wanted her

to,” Caldwell said. ”Today she was one of the most courageous

players that I have had an opportunity to coach. … Her presence

on the floor was definitely felt by her teammates.”

A’dia Mathies scored 20 and Jennifer O’Neill 15 for Kentucky

(23-4, 11-3) which saw its four game winning streak snapped.

”That was a terrific game. It’s a hard one to lose,” said

Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell, who remained one victory shy of

tying former Kentucky coach Terry Hall’s all-time school record of

178 wins. ”LSU just played a great game of basketball and executed

at critical moments. They had a really good day on offense and we

just couldn’t slow them down. I didn’t think we played

poorly.”

Theresa Plaisance recorded her fifth double-double this season

with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Bianca Lutley added 15 points

for LSU, which shot 52.9 percent (27 of 51) , including 7 of 11

from 3-point range.

Kentucky shot 44.6 percent (29 of 65), but was only 6 of 23 from

deep. LSU also outrebounded a Kentucky team renowned for its

defensive play, 34-32, en route to its second upset of a Top 10

team in two weeks (having beaten then No. 9 Georgia 62-54 on Feb.

10).

LSU did have a potentially significant setback, however, when

starting center Shanece McKinney left the game late in the second

half with an apparent leg injury that required her to get help off

the court. She had five blocks. Caldwell said she wasn’t sure

McKinney would be ready for LSU’s next game against Alabama on

Thursday, but expected her back this season.

LSU never trailed in the second half and led by as much as nine

in the final 20 minutes when Plaisance’s layup made it 49-40.

The Wildcats kept pushing back, with Mathies’ 3 cutting the Lady

Tigers lead to 62-60. Mathies later pulled Kentucky into a tie with

her reverse layup with 4:03 left, but LSU did not wilt, thanks to

Kenney, who drilled a 3 and a jumper in succession to make it 69-64

with 2:13 left. Kentucky never got closer than three points after

that.

”We did a good job fighting to get in our position, but I think

we just had some mental lapses at the end of the game,” Mathies

said. ”When you drop a play, you have to turn around and execute,

and that’s something that didn’t happen.”

The teams were within four points of each other through most of

the first half, with Kentucky taking a 24-22 lead on O’Neill’s

jumper.

That’s when LSU started a 21-6 run covering most of the last

7:10 of the half. It began with Lutley’s free throws, followed by

Kenney’s 3-pointer on her first shot of the game. Danielle

Ballard’s driving scoop and Adrienne Webb’s back-court steal and

quick jumper from the lane gave LSU nine straight points.

Kenney made all three of her shots during the first half, all

from 3-point range, and added a pair of free throws in the final

minute of the period, giving her 11 points in a span of 6:19 and

staking the Lady Tigers to their largest lead of the game at 43-30

before DeNesha Stallworth’s short jumper made it 43-32 at

halftime.