Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

Skal Labissiere, Tyler Ulis shine as Kentucky Wildcats close regular season with romp over LSU

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- When March rings, one can typically count on Kentucky to answer the bell.

The No. 22 Wildcats followed their impressive win at Florida with a 94-77 romp over LSU on Saturday at Rupp Arena in the regular-season finale. 

Kentucky (23-8, 13-5 SEC) heads into postseason play with a share of its 47th SEC championship and newfound swagger.

"You gotta have a confident team going into that tournament," UK head coach John Calipari said. "And it can't be two guys. So now you look at Alex (Poythress) playing with confidence, Marcus (Lee) playing with confidence, Derek (Willis) playing with confidence, Skal (Labissiere) playing with confidence, the other guys playing with confidence... and now all of a sudden we got an empowered team that's playing with confidence."

For the second straight game, the Cats got double-figure scoring from five players, including the game of the year for Labissiere. The freshman center from Haiti went 8-for-10 from the field, scored 18 points, grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and blocked a career-high six shots to outshine LSU freshman forward and national player of the year candidate Ben Simmons, who finished with 17 points and six of his team's 12 turnovers.

"He was great," Calipari said of Labissiere. "Here's a kid that's taken a lot of grief and goes for 18 and nine and six blocks. Like he looked really good in that game, and he's getting better."

"I thought he was very competitive out there on the floor," added LSU coach Johnny Jones. "I thought this has been his best performance."

Kentucky also got 22 points from Jamal Murray, 14 points and a career-high 14 assists from Tyler Ulis, and 12 points apiece from Poythress and Lee. It was the final home game for Poythress, who was honored during an emotional "Senior Day" program before tipoff, and the fourth double-double of the year for Lee, who grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

LSU (18-13, 11-7) was led by guard Tim Quarterman with 23 points, but he was also plagued by five turnovers.

https://twitter.com/SECNetwork/status/706250919869095941

In this AW "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick hitters from the Cats' victory... 

KEY MOMENTS:

Kentucky had a number of small runs throughout the game as it gradually pulled away from the Tigers. UK had runs of 9-0 and 10-0 in the first half to lead by as many as 11 points. The Cats added a 7-0 spurt and another 10-0 run in the second half, leading by as many as 26 points with 3:45 to go.

GAME BALL:

Plenty of good candidates in this one, but it has to go to Labissiere, who has struggled to live up to the lofty expectations of being the nation's No. 1 prospect when he signed with Kentucky. He has accounted for 29 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Cats' last two games, giving UK a much-needed inside presence on both ends of the floor and alleviating some of the defensive focus on Ulis and Murray.

BY THE NUMBERS:

10th - Consecutive 20-plus scoring effort for UK's Jamal Murray.

13 - Undefeated seasons for UK at Rupp Arena.

26  - UK assists on 38 baskets.

30 - The rebounding turnaround from UK's game at LSU (-14) and today (+16).

94 - UK's season-high scoring total.

QUOTABLE:

"If there's a better point guard in the country, you gotta show me who he is, and I gotta watch tape. I told the team after, he's made their job easy. He's built confidence in big guys and how he's letting them play, and he makes my job easier because he's coaching that team on the floor." -- UK head coach John Calipari on sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis.

UP NEXT:

Kentucky heads to the SEC Tournament in Nashville as the No. 2 seed. The Wildcats will play Friday night at 7 p.m. ET against the winner of the 7/10 game. SEC co-champion Texas A&M will be the No. 1 seed based on the Aggies' head-to-head victory over the Cats in College Station, Texas, earlier this season.


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