BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For the first time in nearly 40 years, the LSU basketball team has defeated a top five team on the road.
The Tigers have certainly beaten top five teams on neutral sites since then in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. But to march into someone else’s house, in particular, Rupp Arena and more than 23,000 Kentucky Wildcat fans, is something else entirely.
“It was high up there,” said head coach Will Wade. “The escape job at Missouri was good, but to come up on the road and beat a top five team like this, in this type of environment, was just phenomenal for us. We knew we had a good team and we wanted to prove it to ourselves in this type of environment and I think we were able to do that.”
“It’s a word that maybe hasn’t been said too much,” said Kent Lowe, senior associate communications director. “He cares. He cares a lot about his team, he cares a lot about his coaching staff, he cares a lot about his program, he cares a lot about LSU and the state of Louisiana. I think those are things you see all the time in everything he does.”
“I think they have the best eight players on any team in the country,” stated former LSU head basketball coach Dale Brown. “Now, they may not have the best player or the best five players, but I think they have the best eight players that play with tremendous, tremendous teamwork. They are tougher than heck, but they are multi-talented, they’re superbly coached, they hustle. They are as good as a team as anyone in the country and they have an excellent chance of going a long way in that NCAA Tournament.”
“I think they’re the most knowledgeable fans in the country. And I think it is the hardest arena to win in for several reasons. They’ve always had great coaching there, they have the most vociferous fans, and also Arkansas, but more so Kentucky because there’s 24,000. First of all, I think Will Wade has done a magnificent job. I think Will has given his best and as a result, they’re giving him their best, a pattern that great coaches follow. Players don’t care don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. They’re fun to watch, they play hard, they dive on the floor, they’re not intimidated, they’re having fun, they like each other, they’re well coached. All of the ingredients are there for a Final Four.”
“They did not let up at all,” said Rudy Macklin, former LSU and NBA forward. “They did not lose anything going to the bench and that was a big plus. Your bench has really got to come through and that team can go a long way when you have a bench. And then, crash the board. When things are not going well, you can crash the offensive boards and there are a lot of points on that board. I made a living doing it (laughs).”
“Yeah, a mini-me, okay. I like his game, I like his power, his passion for the game. Man, I love watching him play. I’d like to see him get the ball a little more in the post to see what he can do on offense, but he is another nightmare that scouting reports around the country are going to have to look at and say, 'Hey, this guy, he is a force to deal with,” Macklin said of Emmitt Williams.
The Tigers are now 20-4 overall and 10-1 in the SEC.
Only one of LSU’s final seven opponents of the regular season is ranked. No. 1 Tennessee comes to Baton Rouge a week from Saturday.