Baton Rouge, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Karl-Anthony Towns posted his fourth double-double of the season and hit a late jumper to help No. 1 Kentucky survive another stiff SEC test.
Towns tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds and the Wildcats overcame a furious second-half rally by host LSU to beat the Tigers, 71-69.
A near-miraculous 21-2 run gave LSU not only life, but a real chance at handing Kentucky its first loss of the season. Keith Hornsby, who scored 17 points, capped the flurry with a pair of layups.
LSU led 66-60 before Towns ended the run with a stepback jumper that jumpstarted an 11-3 UK run to close out the game.
Towns, one of Kentucky's heralded freshman, has averaged 15.3 points and 11.3 boards over his last three games after failing to surpass 12 points or four rebounds in his previous five.
"I just had to put my body on the line and do anything I could do to get this win," said Towns.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored 15 points and Devin Booker gave 14 for the Wildcats (24-0, 11-0 SEC), who are one win shy of matching the best start in program history.
"This is what you sign up for when you come to Kentucky," said Cauley-Stein.
LSU's dynamic frontcourt played superb on Tuesday despite the loss. Jarell Martin had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Jordan Mickey scored 16 points with seven rebounds and four blocks.
"I thought our guys played extremely hard," said LSU coach Johnny Jones.
The Tigers (17-7, 6-5) fell to 1-8 in the last nine matchups against Kentucky.
As it has so often this season, Kentucky struggled out of the gate. Martin's alley-oop from Tim Quarterman highlighted a 10-2 LSU run to open the game. Martin then lobbed one up for a Mickey slam, and Mickey dunked in transition just before the first media timeout to make it 14-6.
Kentucky trimmed the gap to one on Towns' jumper at 11:10 but played from behind until Dakari Johnson's three-point play at 6:08 tied the score at 28. A pair of Andrew Harrison free throws near the end of the half gave Kentucky its first lead.
Cauley-Stein had two poster dunks and a free throw during Kentucky's 14-5 run early in the second half. Harrison capped the surge with five straight points, giving the Wildcats a 58-45 lead.
At the juncture in the game when Kentucky usually pulls away, LSU took a timeout, regrouped, and flipped the script. Out of the huddle, the hosts embarked on the 21-2 run to take their first lead of the second half.
Towns, Booker and Cauley-Stein scored around a Mickey free throw to get the Wildcats within one. Mickey's layup at 3:52 pushed the lead back to three, but LSU turned it over three times after that and did not score another point.
Towns' hook shot at 1:30 put Kentucky in front, 70-69. After a shot clock violation at the other end, Harrison missed a runner but Towns muscled away the rebound and immediately kicked to Booker. He got fouled and split a pair with 14.8 to play, setting the stages for LSU's final look.
Out of a timeout, Gray swung to Hornsby, who put up an off-balance 3 from the left wing and missed badly. The buzzer sounded during the scrum for the rebound.
LSU scored 40 points in the paint. Kentucky entered the game allowing just 21 paint points per game ... Kentucky avoided being the first top-ranked Wildcat team to blow a halftime lead of four-plus points since Dec. 13, 1951 ... Harrison scored 13 points ... Kentucky's reserves scored 29 points to LSU's seven.