(From UK Athletics/Photos SEC Digital)

Once again minus their starting backcourt, the Kentucky Wildcats got a lift from a player who’d been largely silent for the past few weeks, erasing yet another double-digit deficit and roaring back to beat LSU, 71-66 late Wednesday night.

This time it was Bryce Hopkins, coming off the bench to score a career-high 13 points, including 11 to fuel Kentucky’s 15-2 second-half surge. The Cats went on an 11-0 run with Hopkins scoring nine on a variety of jumpers, driving layups and putbacks.

Oscar Tshiebwe posted another double-double for the Wildcats in the win over LSU

The short-handed Wildcats trailed 36-28 just after halftime and needed offense besides Oscar 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 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.

Xavier Pinson had 26 points for the Tigers (19-9, 7-8) in their second straight loss.

Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds for Kentucky, which played its second consecutive contest without injured starting guards Tyty Washington and Sahvir Wheeler. Davion Mintz started again and added 13 points.

The Tigers shot 48% in the first half by making 5 of 12 3-pointers to build their lead, with Pinson setting the pace. But much like their 77-75 loss at South Carolina, they couldn’t sustain a double-digit lead and made just 36% after halftime and 37% overall.

Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Arkansas Saturday.

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